Rabih El Khodr is an independent communication trainer and consultant, with close to a decade of professional experience spanning across the Levant, the GCC, and North America. He is the founder of a public speaking consultancy called Standup Communication, currently based in Beirut and Dubai. Rabih recently launched the Standup blog and self-published his first book “Public Speaking X: Tips to Unleash the TED Speaker in You” retracing his training experience with TEDxLAU, the first university-based TEDx event in Lebanon.
How did you start? What was your inspiration?
I’ve always been a communication enthusiast, interested in things like TV commercials and political speeches. That led me to work in advertising, marketing and PR for quite some time. But I had always felt that something was missing. I wasn’t really fulfilling myself. So it took a real low where I was unemployed to start my entrepreneurial journey and establish Standup. I guess it all started out of the necessity to be productive again, but also as the expression of a personal passion.
In your opinion, what is an example of a great public speaker and why?
A great public speaker is one that entrances you and makes you feel upset when they’re done talking… because you wouldn’t want them to stop! And let’s face it: al lot of us have been through meetings and ceremonies where the speakers make us want to commit suicide… just for the sake of stopping the suffering! Public speaking should be an enjoyable experience for whoever is at the receiving end of it… and for that to happen, great public speakers enjoy the process and look forward to standing in front of audiences. That’s what we try to do with Standup: instil the love of public speaking in people’s hearts.
What has been your most significant achievement to date?
Self-publishing my first book! Standup has been fortunate to be the speakers training partner for the last two editions of the TEDxLAU main event. Based on my maiden training experience with the speakers lineup of the 2013 event #TheCrossRoad, I decided to document it all in a book where each chapter provides a public speaking tip based on the actual performance of each of the speakers. This is how “Public Speaking X: Tips to Unleash the TED Speaker in You” was born. The book is currently available to buy on the Amazon Kindle store here.
What are your professional aspirations for the next few years?
Our mission at Standup is really simple: to bring out the best communicator in people, through an engaging and memorable training experience. We believe that anyone – and we mean anyone! – can be a great public speaker, and our down-to-earth approach to training makes for an enjoyable and memorable experience for individuals, corporate employees, high-level executives, and entrepreneurs. So I hope to be able to extend the Standup experience to the widest audience possible, starting from Dubai where I am currently based, and beyond – Beirut, Riyadh, Amman… and why not: even San Francisco!
Regarding the upcoming workshops at the Hub, what can participants expect?
To join a movement that has been empowering people throughout the wider Middle East, helping them conquer fear and embrace the public speaker within! The first session in February will be all about unraveling the basics behind public speaking excellence. The second session in March will focus on persuasion and the art of pitching. And the third session in April will be all about design impactful slides that engage the audience visually… so we’re in for a fun and rewarding ride!
Can you give us 5 tips to achieve great public speaking?
Let’s put it in practical terms: if you don’t have good listening skills, you might convey a certain defensiveness in your attitude – which is a big turn off for audiences; and if you don’t have a proper structure to your content, you might get into a rambling pattern where you’re no longer making sense. Those are two tips… the remaining three – and more! – will be shared in the workshop series at the Hub.