Strategies from a public speaking expert

Spotlight! We have a special treat today. I had the opportunity to interview Victoria Lioznyansky, an experienced entrepreneur and educator who teaches other entrepreneurs and business professionals how to overcome their public speaking anxiety. Aurelian Coaching’s focus is to adjust the mindset we use to approach our challenges, and Victoria has an excellent way to teach her students to bring a different mindset to public speaking. Read on…

If you had to name 1-2 most efficient tips for a successful public speaking engagement, what would that be?

There are lots of tips for public speaking, but this one is an absolutely must. And if you remember, internalize and apply it, you will be millions of light years ahead of everyone else. Are you ready? Love your audience! That’s it. Very simple. It’s the cornerstone of the framework I teach my students on how to become an amazing public speaking. You have to shift your focus entirely from you to your audience.

Forget all your insecurities, forget your imperfections, forget your fears. It’s not about you at all. It’s about them. It’s about your presentation impacting and enriching their lives. It’s about how your talk can make a life-long impact without you ever knowing. It’s about seeing them as friends not as strangers.

When you shift your focus from “talking” to “giving”, that’s when you become a great speaker. Instead of thinking, “What will the audience think of me?”, or “What if they judge me and think I am a fraud?”, try “How can I impact them in the most profound way?”, and watch the magic unfold.

Some people have concerns about their content being too “dry” and therefore losing the audience’s interest. How can the speaker get the audience engaged?

Sometimes, the content of your presentation is dry. Sometimes it’s a mandatory training you are holding, and your audience doesn’t even want to be there. Sometimes, you are giving your talk in an empty room with just three attendees. Should you still try to get your audience engaged? Absolutely!

And here are few ways to do it:

  1. While you might not be a stand-up comedian (let’s face it, most of us aren’t), you can still prepare a few jokes ahead of time for your opening. Just make them sound spontaneous. Try to make your audience laugh or at least smile. The first few seconds of your talk are crucial because that’s when you establish the connection with your audience.
  2. Keep eye contact with your audience at all times. So often we see a presenter standing half way towards the screen reading of the slides. Big no-no! You want to be facing your audience at all times. Also, your eye contact should be meaningful and impactful. The way you do it is by focusing on one person at a time. Spend 3-7 seconds speaking to just that one person in the audience, like you would speak to a friend. Then look across the room at another person and speak to that person for a few seconds, and so on. Build a meaningful connection with each person you look at. Forget that you are speaking to 500 people, just speak to one person at a time.
  3. Smile! It relaxes you and it builds a connection with your audience.
  4. Ask audience questions that require show of hands or showing thumbs up/thumbs down. People love to get involved and voice an opinion, so let them.
  5. Talk to your audience. Don’t talk over them, talk to them. Very often, unexperienced speakers think that their job is to deliver a presentation. And it’s not! Your job is to connect with your audience, educate your audience, impact your audience, and transform your audience. Imagine that they are your close friends and talk to them as such.
  6. Tell a story! If you want your audience to get engaged and relate to you, you must tell a story. Include lots of examples. And any time you give an example, you may want to ask, “Give me thumbs up if this is you” or “Show of hands, who had that experience before”.

We’ve all seen dynamic speakers. If a speaker does not have an extroverted and energetic personality at the podium, what strategies can they use to avoid feeling like they’re boring?

If you are more reserved and quiet, rely on connecting with your audience and on telling a story. Don’t feel like you have to be jumping up and down the stage to bring excitement to your audience. It’s all about you loving your audience, being passionate about your topic, and focusing on giving.

Sometimes, we are called upon to speak in front of others extemporaneously! When we are asked to speak in front of others on the spot, what should we keep in mind to do well?

Isn’t it the scariest thing ever to give an impromptu speech? Particularly in front of a large audience you don’t know? But guess what, all the previous points still apply. Think about your audience and how much value you can give them even though you aren’t prepared. Start with a smile and eye contact for just a few seconds. That relaxes you and gives you time to get your thoughts together. Continue by telling a story, for example, an instance in your life that somehow relates to your presentation. Keep your audience engaged by asking questions. Keep your presentation short. End strong with a sentence
that either summarizes your main point or gives your audience a call to action. Smile and sincerely thank your audience in the end.

Are there any additional tools or resources for your clients that you recommend?

I would recommend tuning into TED talks. Just find a few talks on the subject of interest to you and watch them. As you are watching, ask yourself questions:

  1. Did I like this speaker and why?
  2. How does the speaker engage with the audience?
  3. Am I able to follow along?
  4. Were there points in the speech where I got lost?
  5. Am I educated and entertained at the same time?
  6. How did he/she open the talk?
  7. How did he/she close the talk?

You would be amazed how much value you can get just out of watching a talk and then answering these questions. TED Talks has some of the best speakers and they are all very different. Some are extroverts, some are introverts, some are flamboyant and all over the stage, and some are reserved and quiet. But what you will discover, it doesn’t matter what type of personality you have. Regardless of who you are, you can still captivate your audience and make a huge impact with your speech. So go out there and
speak! Good luck!

ByVictoriaL-PhotoVictoria Lioznyansky ( is an experienced entrepreneur and educator who teaches other entrepreneurs and business professionals how to overcome their public speaking anxiety and transform into confident, compelling, and captivating speakers. After moving to the US more than two decades ago with limited English and crippling fear of public speaking, Victoria built several businesses, taught in a variety of industries, and spoke in front of audiences ranging from 10 to 500 people. She has appeared on Fox News, and has been featured in numerous publications, including CBS Houston and BizWest Media.

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