Calling all introverted (even terrified) entrepreneurs and business professionals – yes you! You can absolutely become a dynamic and confident speaker (which will build your authority – and business). “Small Business Stacey” interviews Victoria Lionznyansky to get the framework you can use to become confident whether on stage or on video. #ASmallBizLife #WhereMarketingMeetTechnology
Stacey: Hey everybody. Did you know that more than 75% of all people rank public speaking their number one fear behind death? The number two fear of all people is death more so than the fear of public speaking. We’re going to talk about it today. I’m “Small Business Stacey” and I have a very special guest with me today who is going to help you overcome that number one fear so you can get out there and share your brilliance with the world. My guest is Victoria and I’m just going to say L because I think it’s Lion Scouse Ski or something. She can say it much better than I can, so welcome to the show Victoria.
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Victoria: Hi Stacey. Yes, Lion Ziz Nyansky. There’s going to be a test in the end. You’ll have to say it, but yes, it’s one of those last names that is originally from Russia just like me that nobody can pronounce. I’m very blessed as to say it three times fast.
Stacey: I’m so glad you’re with us today because small business owners, they really struggle when it comes to public speaking. I’m really curious about your backstory because did you just grow up saying, “I want to be a professional public speaker and teach people how to do the same?”
Victoria: Well, quite the opposite actually. I grew up saying that I never ever want to see a microphone in my entire life. I grew up in Russia and if you know anything about the Soviet Union, the rest of the rules where if somebody asks you to do something, you don’t say no. You basically say yes, thank you. And when I was about nine or 10 years old, I was asked to recite a poem on stage in front of about a thousand people all by myself. And they only gave me that poem three hours before I had to do it. And it was pretty long. I have a good memory. I’m blessed with a good memory, and I thought I kind of learned it, but when I walked out there on that stage, I felt exactly how everybody feels who is afraid of public speaking. I felt nauseous. My heart was pounding, my legs were shaking, and I wish I could tell you I was brilliant.
I wasn’t. I was standing there. My mind was completely blank. I couldn’t say a word. I completely forgot, not just a point. I forgot everything about the poem and people started giggling in the audience. You know your worst nightmare where you don’t even have to wonder what they think of me. They kind of tell you what they think of you. And I just ran off stage in tears and ever since then I was absolutely not a fan of public speaking. In my early twenties I started a business and it was a web development business. And I realized, I mean you have to think it was, you know, 25 years ago or so, I had to go out there and actually speak to people because that was before the internet became really, really big. You couldn’t hide behind your computer.
You had to go out there in real life. And I realized I had to overcome this fear and I tried. I was brave enough to go and try and do it. But the more I did it is the more I realized I’m useless and that I don’t have or just thought I don’t, I don’t have a talent just like everybody else thinks. Right? When you are afraid of public speaking, you blame it on talent. But I’m not telling them this. I said people are, I’m not. And I’d practice, I’d practice and I’d practice and I wasn’t getting any better, which is again, I think what a lot of your listeners can understand because they’ve gone through the same thing. I practiced and practiced, but was only getting marginally better and they’re still not enjoying it at all. And so what I realized eventually, fortunately, I didn’t give up, but what I realized eventually is that I’m making so many mistakes.
I’m approaching public speaking all wrong. And that’s when I started making the shifts. And I will talk about what changed. I will talk about it. But what I want to say is that once I made those changes, once I changed my mindset, and that was the first thing I did, once I changed the way I approach public speaking, every scene has shifted. And in the last 20 years, I’ve built several businesses. I’ve grown one of my last two businesses, which you can see behind me, it’s 90 scientists of Houston. I’ve built it in five years to be the number one franchise in the United States among all us and 90 scientists franchises largely due to me going out there and speaking. And if you’re on live TV, I mean I’ve done so many things, I’ve spoken in front of audiences and once you overcome your fear, it never comes back.
It’s amazing and I don’t think a lot of people realize it, but it’s like learning to ride a bicycle, which I’m actually not good at anyway. But once you overcome your fear, the curtain lifts and you’re like, I got it. I understand why I was scared and I’m no longer scared. It never comes back to you. And I really, really want to help your audience today. That’s the first step though. It’s all about addressing their fear. And so what I’ve done with my personal journey as I was building a business, as people were coming up to me and saying, “Oh, you are natural, you’re so talented at public speaking.” And I’m like, are you kidding me? I was horrible. I was terrified through it. And then I changed things. I thought, you know what, what I’ve learned on my personal journey was probably going to help a lot of other people with their public speaking journeys. I sort of am very left brained. My background is in it. I sort of deconstructed everything that I’ve done for myself. And there’s built frameworks and systems around what I’ve done. And I’ve created brilliance because of my Academy program where I teach my students how to go from scared to enjoying the spotlight. So that’s kind of my story in a nutshell.
Stacey: Okay. Scared to transformation. That’s where I want to get my audience to as well. That was an amazing story that you shared from being nine years old, having to speak in front of a thousand people. That’s impressive in and of itself. Would you say it’s almost like a baby where you look at how a baby goes through life, they can’t walk, they don’t come out of the wound walking and they fall down every single time as they’re learning to walk, but they get back up and do it again. Would you kind of relate that kind of analogy to learning how to do public speaking?
Victoria: You know, somewhat. There is a way where I think it’s very relatable and then one way it’s not. So the way through relatable is when you’re in front of your audience, and it doesn’t matter what kind of audience, if it’s live on stage or if it’s camera podcast – it doesn’t matter and you make a mistake and you start blaming yourself, “Oh, I’m so horrible. I’m so worthless. I’m not an expert.” Whatever. My audience now thinks I’m a fraud. If you make a mistake and you don’t get up and walk again, if you don’t get up back in front of the audience, it’s going to make you even more scared. Don’t let mistakes stop you in your tracks because mistakes will always happen. And it’s not about making the mistake, it’s about how you handle it. And just a quick tip here. If you are in front of an audience and your presentation is really good though, your talk is really good and then you make a mistake, guess what?
Your audience will not only forgive you for that mistake, but they will like you even more because of that mistake, because that mistake just made you human, right? All of a sudden you’re a lot more relatable. You’re no longer that creature on stage that’s so far out there. All of a sudden it’s like, Oh that that lady is, that gentleman, is just like you and me. Oh, we just made a mistake. And the main thing is to laugh it off, right? Laugh it off. Correct. Keep on going. Or if you make a mistake and your audience didn’t even notice it, some don’t even mention it. You know, just keep on going. So as far as comparing public speaking to a baby falling, just keep getting up.
But where I think this comparison won’t work is a lot of people do what I did. They think that practicing more is a solution, but it’s not. It’s practicing the right things. That’s a solution. If you are making the same mistakes that I was making when I was trying to do it, and you keep on practicing and practicing, but you just making exactly the same mistakes, you’re not going to get any better because you’re practicing the wrong things. So I think everybody wants to know what is the right thing, what is the right way? So let me give you one of the biggest mindset shifts when you are on stage, but again, it could be anything. You could be on live, on video, on podcasts, live stream, summit, online, whatever it is. Whenever you are in front of your audience, the very first thing you usually think about is what do they think of me, right? That’s where the fear comes from. You in front of your audience. All of a sudden you’re overwhelmed because all the eyes are on you and the first thought in your head is they’re judging me. They’re thinking I’m a fraud. They must be thinking I’m a fraud because I’m not an expert. I don’t know anything, right? That’s where our mind goes immediately. Even though you could have achieved so much in your life, your mind immediately goes into that space where you believe that you are an imposter, that famous imposter syndrome, right? But here is what you should do when you are in front of your audience. Instead of thinking, what do they think of me? You need to immediately shift to how do I want to make them feel?
How do I want to make them feel? You shift the focus away from you and your fear. Because public speaking is not about you. You may think it’s about you when you’re in front of the microphone, but it’s not about you at all. Public speaking is about your audience and how you make them feel. What changes, what transformation they go through from the beginning of your presentation. It’s all about that journey. It’s all about the transformation and when you step on that stage thinking about your audience and knowing that everything that you’re going to say is for their benefit and completely focused in on your audience and nothing else, then you won’t be able to go back into the space of “who am I to be here?” Because our brain can only focus on one thing, right?
I mean, think about it. At any point in time, our brain can only focus on one big thing and if that one big thing is you thinking only about the benefit for your audience, then you can’t think at the very same time of them judging you. It’s not about judging. All of a sudden it’s about you giving, right? It’s all about giving, not receiving. The best public speakers are givers say not receivers, and so when you step on that stage with the mindset of I am a giver and this is all about them, it’s all about my audience and all I’m going to care about, all I’m going to focus on is how I can benefit them.
Stacey: That’s such a great takeaway and as I’m listening to you say this, whether it’s for public speaking or just even one on one conversation over coffee, right? It’s all about positioning. You’re talking to a lead having a business meeting. I just did a video on this the other day. It was called The No I Challenge, not “eye” but the letter “I”. Stop talking about yourself. Think about the other person.
Victoria: Right. This is so chill, like what you said about sales meetings. So right on, because if you think about it, a sales meeting is still public speaking, right? It’s still public speaking. And I think what made me so good at sales is that I can walk into any room and apply my sales, my public speaking skills and mindset during that sales meeting. So next time you’re trying to sell somebody, think of it as what we just discussed about public speaking. How can I be giver? How can they turn it around and make it for their benefit? Because whenever you think about benefit to others, you usually get equally as much back in return. But this is a really, really, really important mindset. So going back to practicing, if you go out there and you practice and practice and practice some more, but you approach public speaking from a place of fear and judgment, of I’m not enough, then you can continue practicing until the cows come home.
You will never be truly good at it. But if you go out there and you practice not from the state of fear, but from the state of love, from a place of love, from a place of giving, then you’re practicing the right thing, then you’re practicing will actually take you so far and you’re going to become truly great. So do yourself a favor. Next time you turn on that camera, you step on that stage, you go on the podcast, go there and approach it from a place of love and a place of giving and you’re going gonna see how magically your fear is going to subside and how magically things start becoming so much better for you.
Stacey: Great, thank you, Victoria. Where then does a small business owner start? If they are thinking, okay, those were some really great tips. How can I use public speaking to help grow my small business?
Victoria: Where do they start? And if we’re talking offline, if it’s a regular, local brick and mortar business, then the first thing you want to do is you want to find some networking groups. It’s very, very simple. It’s very easy and those have been around for decades. Nothing has changed. You’ll find a local networking group. For example, over here where I am, we have local business entrepreneurs. I called them up and I said, Oh, I would like to present. Now know what I just said. I didn’t say I would like to go and promote my business. No, I would like to present because I have something very interesting that I think your audience will enjoy. I want to teach them blah, blah, blah. Right? I want to teach them. So if you are a doctor, if you have a business, every sales shop, what can you teach that would benefit that audience and you go out there and you structure your whole presentation again around the benefit to your audience.
There is no, “I don’t think I can help you with it.” No, it’s not about I can help you. This is what you should do so that your life is better, your business is better. This is how you structure it. It’s all for them. It’s all for the audience. And if you go, and now those networking groups are very nonthreatening. So this is probably a really good place to start practicing public speaking. Once you do it, you’ll see – you’re going to feel a lot more confident. Remember, we approach it from a place of love. You start feeling a little more confident, and then you may start reaching out.
Who is my ideal client? Right? And you go where they are and you figure out how to reach them. For example, just to give you an example of my local business right here, we do science shows in the summer. It’s very, very lucrative, very profitable. So I’m trying to book as many science shows as possible. Like last summer we had close to 200 signs shows from June to July. What I’m thinking is, okay, how can they sell? Not just the one school, but how can they sell to many? So here’s what I thought of. I thought, Hmm, let me go. Not to just one library but let me reach out to the library at a higher level and see if I can present it to their children librarians. And so they brought me into a meeting where there was every single children librarian responsible for the summer program.
They brought me in there. So that was together with some other vendors so that we can tell them about our program. Of course, I went there exactly how I teach. Not all, let me tell you what kind of shows we do. It was all about, let me tell you what we can do for your families. Let me tell you how we can inspire your kids. The kids will come to your library to fall in love with science and then of course I brought up my way with all the science experiments, but this is how you do it. You figure out where you can get clients and then you go out there and you present and you focus on the benefits. But the easiest place to start if you don’t want to do like a true real big sales presentation is the easiest, the safest place to start are those little networking groups. They’re always looking for speakers. And you can go there and volunteer to speak about some teaching moments. Something that you can teach, something that you can share that would benefit the audience. And then they see you as an expert, that’s when they’ll come to you. Right?
Stacey: Absolutely. And so as you were talking about that, I was thinking about the public speakers that I can most remember, right? What made them memorable? And it was the stories that they told. I can’t remember much necessarily about the facts or the figures and the boring stuff or reading the slides, but it’s the stories. And so I’d love to hear your take on this because I would think that a small business owner, they have so many stories to tell why they started their business, how it helps other people, the before and the after, like the whole storytelling. And I would think that that would make somebody more comfortable talking about it because if they know it, they’re passionate about it versus just reading gobbly gook from a slide. What is your take on that?
Victoria: Several things here. Number one, if you’re using slides, try to use them as little as possible. Try to talk. It’s a conversation. It’s not a lecture. As soon as you start using slides and bullet points and all of that, if you don’t do it correctly, it becomes a lecture. Nobody wants to be lectured. Everybody wants to have a conversation. And as a part of that conversation, yes, storytelling is so important. But what you have to remember here, and I want to caution you that when you tell stories, those stories have to be very relatable to your audience. Okay? If you are being self-indulgent and you are just telling a story even about your life, and it could be even the main story, but if you’re just being very self-indulgent and that story has nothing to do with the audience, they won’t truly feel like they get to know you.
They hear your story. It doesn’t enter the heart, right? So to speak. Their heart doesn’t really move just because they hear a story. When you make a story relatable to them where they can relate in some way to what you’ve gone through and they can relate how they live, it could be very similar to that. That’s when stories work. So number one the stories have to be relatable. Number two, you always want to inspire. So stories not just to educate, but inspire. Those inspirational stories works the best. That’s why you know the stories about you may work really great if they’re relatable and if they inspire your audience to go and do the same. That’s why I wanted to tell you my story, how I failed terribly. You’re probably very lucky if you’ve never failed like this. I had failed terribly, but I am speaking now to you.
So I was able to overcome that fear. I want that story to inspire you to do the same in your life. If I told you a story about how I was nine years old and one day I met with my friends and we did something that wouldn’t be an inspirational story or relatable to my audience. So it was the audience and when they find, it’s funny, they laugh about it but they don’t walk away feeling like something changed inside of them. And again, we’re going back to the transformation. So stories have to be relatable, and ideally transformational where you create that journey for your audience. But even if your story is not about you, you should try to tell a story. It could be a story of your client, it could be a story that has to do with the topics that you’re discussing because audiences love stories.
Everybody loves to listen to stories because as soon as you start telling your story, it becomes a conversation. So as long as you structure your story, just like we discussed right now, you will get so much further with a story than with just narrating in facts. Nobody likes dry facts, everybody likes stories. Try to insert your own personality into your presentation and that’s why you’re telling stories. Try to insert jokes and anecdotes from your life and some moving stories. But the main thing is if you think of any speaker who you enjoyed, the main thing is to be yourself. If you are trying to pretend to be somebody you are not, your audience will pick up on it. The audience is very savvy. The audience knows where somebody is trying too hard or has their own agenda instead of actually presenting, right?
Or when somebody is trying to mimic someone they may respect, but they’re not being themselves because you cannot keep the pretense for too long. And so that whole idea of fake it till you make it. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think you should ever fake it. And again, if you think of your favorite speakers, like one of my favorites is probably Gary Vaynerchuk, right? Why do we love him so much? Because he doesn’t pretend. He’s never fake. He’s 100% real. You like him or you don’t. He’s real. And it’s very important you guys. When you are genuine and you are going to your audience and you’re talking, you may repel somebody, but you know what? It’s better to repel them now than when you start working with them, right? But you’re going to attract a lot more people based on who you are then if you’re all just going and faking until you’re making it and you attract a whole bunch of wrong people for your business, somebody wants to work with you because of how cool you are.
Give them that gift of knowing who you are and not pretending to be somebody else. And it’s so much easier when you are not pretending it’s going to be so much easier when you’re out there. You know, being yourself and telling your story in the way only you would tell it in it’s going to be easier to talk to that audience versus when you are trying to be as polished and perfect and rehearsed. A person will forgive those little mistakes that you make but what they won’t forgive is you being a fake.
Stacey? Absolutely. Thank you. You’ve provided so much great value. In talking about public speaking, I’m thinking that the beginning and the end are probably the two most important parts. What is your take on that?
Victoria: I look at it this way. I look at the beginning and the end as very important and that’s why I always recommend my students to actually memorize both for sure because particularly when you are still not very comfortable with public speaking and you go out one day on stage and everybody’s staring at you, learning your opening by heart is going to be very important. But speaking about the actual content, yes, you don’t have that much time to make that first impression. And when you waste those first few precious seconds on, hi, I am so happy to be here. Oh, and by the way, I’m so sorry because I’m actually nervous and I’m not that good at public speaking. So if you don’t like it, I’m so sorry. You do not spend the first 20 seconds doing that.
Stacey: Oh, I’m so glad you said that. So many people do that. Right?
Victoria: Particularly saying that I’m so sorry, but if I look scared, I am scared. So forgive me. Don’t ever say that. Don’t ever start your talk with this. You know why? Let me tell you why. Because they would never guess. They would have never guessed that you were scared unless you tell them. So why would you tell them? They are watching this for you. For them. You are already the authority because you are out there and they are here. It doesn’t make sense. And because you’re already in authority, unless you tell them, Oh, I’m so scared and I’m so unsure and I’m not an expert. I’m so sorry. Unless you tell them that they would never think that. So don’t say it. Don’t start with that. But as far as the actual content of your opening, try to start with something that could be even unusual. You can start with a question that makes them ponder. Questions that lead to your conclusion. You can start with a joke. A lot of people start with jokes. Of course it has to be relatable. Don’t start with something completely off the wall. And it has to be a nice joke. Nothing bad out there in front of the audience cause you just don’t know. Everybody is a human. So be on the safe side. But what I really like to do is I like to start with a story and you don’t start by saying, let me tell you a story about blah, blah, blah.
Right? You don’t do it like that. You just go with a story, you’ll like literally begin telling a story and that story leads into your whole presentation. It could be something like my client recently told me and dah, dah, dah, dah, whatever you want to say. So you can start with a story. You can start with a joke, you can start with a question. You can start with a statistic. For example, if you were a nutritionist and help people lose weight. You could start with some really interesting quote. I’m not in that sphere, so it’s hard for me to come up with something. But something like 50% of people don’t eat right, and that would make them become obese late in life, whatever this, but you could find, you could start with a statistic that jolts your audience.
Not something that everybody knows, but something that’s unusual. Like for example, Stacey, you started with that. You started with a statistic. More people are afraid of public speaking than those who are afraid of death. That’s an interesting statistic, right? You could have started with a funny quote. There are a lot of really funny quotes about public speaking, so that could have been another really nice icebreaker, particularly when you’re on stage. So there are a lot of ways to start, but again, whatever way you choose I recommend you memorize it. Not the whole thing, but just that first five sentences. Whatever you are opening because if it’s memorized, you can just get it out of your system and then you’re on the roll, right? You already feel comfortable. You are thinking about your audience, they’re smiling at you, they’re looking at you. You are not thinking, who am I to be on this stage? You’re thinking, I have so much I want to share with them. I have so much goodness. Some of them are going to walk away forever changed because of me. And that’s a mindset that you are going with the rest of your presentation.
Stacey” What about closing? Any tips on closing it out?
Victoria: Sometimes memorizing the closing is also a good thing because you want to close strong. What happens often is that, you have a killer opening and then you have a really great presentation and then you kind of don’t finish it. You’re kind of like, well that’s it. How many times have you heard that? And folks, that’s it for today or Andy, thank you so much for having me. That may not be the best close.
Maybe a quick summary but not a boring summary allowing me to go over everything we’ve talked about, but something inspirational like go out there and do it, whatever you have. We talked about implementing this and you’re going to be so successful. Something inspirational always works really well. And then you say thank you but don’t just cut off abruptly when you are at the end of your content because that feels unfinished. So finish strong. Finish with something that your audience will remember because they remember the very last things that you said and still make it very, very strong. So here’s an example. You know Marie Forleo, she’s a very famous influencer, a founder of B-school. I’ve gone through her school, she finishes every one of her video shows with the same phrase, right? And those of you who’ve watched it, you know which one I’m talking about.
Stay on your game because the world needs that special something that only you have. She finishes every single video with that same phrase, and she’s been doing it for 10 years at least. So I’m not saying you need to finish up with the same phrase every time, but what I’m saying is that you finish your speech, that you put the bow on it, you finish with something that regardless of what your presentation was about, you want to inspire them. But do not cut it off to not just leave it hanging. Don’t just say, Oh, well thank you so much for having me. I hope you enjoyed it. That falls flat and you know it falls flat because it falls flat on you as well.
Stacey: Okay, well let me try and summarize this cause we are up against the clock. Let’s see. So what I’ve learned today is we, as small business owners should definitely be leveraging the power of public speaking. They’ve got to get their mindset right. You showed us how to do that. You also explained how to structure your public speaking from the opening, the content itself, knowing your audience, and closing it out strong. What parting words of advice do you want the small business owner to take away so that they can put that into action right away?
Victoria: Well, let me do some inspiration for you guys go out there. Don’t let your fear stop you in your tracks. Don’t let your fear prevent you from sharing what you have inside of you with the world. Because even if there is only one person in that audience whose life you’re going to change forever, it’s all worth it. So don’t rob your audience of your wisdom or your experience. If you don’t go out there because you’re afraid you’re being selfish. So don’t be selfish. Think about your audience. Think about how much you can impact them, how much you can transform them, go out there and be your best, genuine self.
Stacey: Love it Victoria. For people who want some help, perhaps with public speaking, you have training, coaching programs, you’re such an inspiration to them. How can people get in touch with you to learn more?
Victoria: You can reach me on my website I also have free training there. You are more than welcome to grab it at www.byvictorial.com/training and again it’s absolutely free. You’re gonna get a lot out of it and it’s just a 12-minute video. So do yourself a favor, go grab that short training and you’re going to walk away inspired and ready to take action.
Stacey: Okay, everybody, you heard it from Victoria, she is challenging you. Take action, pun intended, and go out and start public speaking. This is Small Business Stacey, your Get-It-Done Marketing Specialist here to help you ditch the CEO title . . . Chief Everything Officer . . . so you can #GetItDone. Bye bye, everybody.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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