World of Speakers E.103 Laura Sicola | Mastering the 3 CS
Ryan Foland speaks with Laura Sicola, a speaker, coach and leadership communication expert who helps people hone their Vocal Executive Presence.
In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Laura talk about the importance of mastering the three C’s — that’s the ability to Command the room or the screen, to Connect with the audience and to Close the deal.
Tune in for an interview full of ideas and tips on slowing down and have an emotional impact, a cognitive impact, and a behavioral impact on your audience.
Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.
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Here’s your host, Ryan Foland.
Ryan Foland: Ahoy everyone.
My name is Ryan Foland.
Yeah, no wait, Ryan Foland, that’s my name and I’m here with a very special guest who I will credit to be somebody who has helped me understand how to say my name.
And sometimes that simple, first step is what will set you up in the moments that you have to make an impression.
I’m excited to announce that we have the one, the only, Laura Sicola, that’s just like Pepsi Cola but without the pep, because she is the pep, she’s bringing the pep here on the World of Speakers.
Laura, welcome to the show!
Laura Sicola: Thanks, Ryan. It’s great to be here.
Ryan Foland: I’m being cheeky with my tonal inflection, but it is inspired by Laura because she’s not only the founder of Vocal Impact Productions, she’s the author and host of the book and podcast named Speaking to Influence.
And she has a TEDx talk with over 6.5 million views, and I’m pretty sure I’m responsible for a few thousand, if not more because I bring Laura’s TEDTalk in my pocket, in a lot of the trainings that I do.
It’s a fun exercise to start with how people say their name.
So Laura, just for fun, how do you say your name?
Laura Sicola: You did a great job of modeling yours and mine.
It’s Laura Sicola.
And the key to that is that most people make three really big mistakes when they introduce themselves in a way that makes them forgettable.
And as speakers, that is the last thing we want to be is forgettable, especially from the minute we open our mouths.
So we go too fast. We blur all of our words together.
And we tend to introduce ourselves like, we’re asking a question.
So people will say things like, “Hi, I’m Laura Sicola, I think.”
Ryan Foland: Yeah, excuse me?
Laura Sicola: Right by the time you even realize they were speaking, you already missed it, their brains did not have time to catch up with their ears.
So number one, slow down.
You may have said your name a million times, but they haven’t heard it a million times, and even if it’s something as simple as Joe Smith, it’s not predictable.
So say it in a way that feels awkwardly slow, it will not sound awkwardly slow to them.
You’ll let their brains catch up with their ears and they will thank you for not asking you to repeat 75 times.
So, that’s number one.
Number two, if you’re giving your full name, which unless you’re somebody like Madonna or Cher or something, you probably have more than one, the first name and the last name, so we want to make sure that you separate them- Laura Sicola. Ryan Foland.
There are two pieces.
There should be that little break in between, especially if your name is something that’s perhaps less intuitive, your parents got a little creative or if your name comes from an ethnic background or from a language that is not commonly shared by whoever your audience happens to be, they may not be able to identify necessarily where one ends and the next begins.
So give them that little break so their brain understands, “Okay, data point number one received, prepare to receive data point number two.”
And then the third part is the tonality. It’s the pitch.
So, Instead of slurring it like a giant question like Laura Sicola, blah, blah- like you’re not sure but you think it might be.
Ryan Foland: Can you say that again?
Laura Sicola: They are thinking as a listener, “I will tell you what, you don’t really sound sure if that’s your name or not.
So how about you figure it out and then come back and let me know when you’re totally clear and then I’ll bother paying attention and I’ll try to remember.”
So instead, we want to declare it, we’re stating our name, we own our name, we’re proud of our name, even if you don’t like it, you don’t want anybody to know that.
So your first name goes up, it’s like saying I’m not done yet, there’s more.
Then you have that little break and on your last name, you go down.
It’s like a vocal period saying and now I’m done.
So, it’s Lara Sicola. Up, pause, down. Ryan, pause, Foland.
And, and if you have a middle name or a third name, or you’ve got a hyphenated last name, it’s up, hold, and down, but you still want to have those little breaks in between each one.
You put those together and you’d be shocked, especially even on the phone.
How many times you will no longer have to repeat yourself 75 times and then they go, “Sorry, what?”
Or otherwise, just you know you don’t understand them and I understand that you’re watching and you’re listening on audio, you’re not seeing the podcast but you know what I’m talking about when I say when you get the smile and nod response.
Ryan Foland: Hmm. Even a little mmm.
Laura Sicola: Yes, exactly.
I lived in Japan for three years and the Japanese have a fabulous expression for it.
They call that the know-nothing smile, that blank,
“Sure, whatever you just said, okay, we’re going to move on because I don’t want to tell you that I still have no idea what you just said, so I’m going to smile and nod and keep talking.”
So we don’t want that. We want them to go, “Oh got it. Ryan Foland, nice to meet you, Ryan.”
That’s what we want.
Ryan Foland: Well that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. That is a podcast for today. That’s it.
Because hopefully, this will get six million listens now or maybe more.
But a great example of how a powerful piece of advice can be packaged in a short amount of time and in three steps, my favorite number.
So to recap, slow down.
Number two, take a break in between, and give them a little bit of a break in between.
And then third is that when you have melody, you’re more memorable.
Laura Sicola: Yes.
Ryan Foland: And that last one is something that Vin Giang has taught me.
I took his class and he’s been on this show as well.
He’s a fascinating speaker who talks about showmanship and we’re talking about this here is like how do you showmanship of your name and it’s a game-changer.
And the final thing I’ll say, and I’m having this realization now like a total a-ha moment- people call me Roland all the time.
People somehow take Ryan and Foland and somehow mesh them in together as Roland.
And I’m recognizing that I might need to take responsibility for that because I might be like, oh, my name is Ryan Foland, and then like they here Roland.
So, I’ve been cured, I’ve been saved.
Laura Sicola: You have to come back and let us know what happens the next handful of times that you have to introduce yourself to somebody.
Let us know, are you getting less of that Roland piece? Because people do-
Ryan Foland: I will do a Roland tracker. Yes. My goal from this point moving forward is to slow down when I say my name and give a break between Ryan and Foland.
Honestly, they hang out so much together, they need a break. And then thirdly is to create a little bit more melody and become memorable.
So my name is Ryan Foland.
Laura Sicola: Yes, beautiful. You can even stretch that F out a little bit more if you wanted to, just to extend that Foland.
Ryan Foland: Ryan Foland.
Laura Sicola: Yes.
Ryan Foland: Interesting because it is hard.
It’s an F and I usually say Foland just like Poland, but with an F because I have to almost come back and correct it.
So a little bit more on the F.
Laura Sicola: Yep. And I’m a linguist by trade so that’s something that is important for me. I’m not an actor. I’m not a trained singer.
Ryan Foland: I’m an actor. I’m a traditionally trained actor and I have a degree in dramatic arts. So this is stuff that I just eat up. I just eat it up.
Laura Sicola: And we don’t realize how much those little details make such a huge impact on the brain, on the audience, on their experience.
Because everything that you do, everything that you say, everything that you deliver is going to have three levels of impact and we can discuss this a little bit more later on.
But on your audience, consciously and unconsciously, you’re going to have an emotional impact, a cognitive impact, and a behavioral impact.
And starting with the way that you say your name, even things like do you stretch out that F a little bit more so people don’t miss it.
It’s a fricative, it’s voiceless, it’s a continuance, it’s not an obstruent.
There are all sorts of linguistic terms I won’t bother explaining any of those, but there are reasons why that F gets swallowed and where they don’t hear it.
And since the O is the biggest stress point in your name that Oland, then that’s why they’re going to take that R at the beginning and just stick it on and cut out or elide the part in the middle.
So yeah, all this stuff, there is science behind it and it all does matter. Do not omit those small details.
Ryan Foland: Okay. So a couple of things.
One, you get a bell and this is a very special bell, this is a bell given to me by Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey who are the Genesis of us connecting and when they travel around the world they collect these bells, and when we have dinner everybody gets a bell.
And when somebody says something, or you want to acknowledge somebody or you want to thank them, you give them a little bell.
So the dinners are usually full of bells so you just got a bell for that whole like that was like episode number 2, we’re going to split this into two episodes now.
Laura Sicola: Oh wow. Okay.
Ryan Foland: And I’ve also decided that a stretch goal for me is going to get a Ph.D. in linguistics because it really does fascinate me.
Laura Sicola: That’s just going to take a couple of weeks. I’ll help.
Ryan Foland: Okay good, good, good.
Yeah, this might land you another client here pretty quickly. Okay. If not me and me, not if, but, and all of our listeners.
So we’ll let them know how you can help them in the end.
But I would say let’s start, but I feel like we’ve already started. Let’s not start, but let’s continue with, and I want to know a story that shaped you.
I’m not going to read your bio because people can go find it, they should go watch your talk. But if you had to pull out a moment in time that shaped you, what would that moment be?
Laura Sicola: For me as a linguist, part of the genesis of my fascination and obsession with speech and language, and communication and all of that, which is, a rather winding road into the world of executive coaching and leadership communications coaching, etc.
But my grandmother, I’m mostly Italian.
But my one non-Italian grandmother was actually born in Chile.
And when she would come to visit us, usually for a couple of weeks over Christmas, I remember as a little kid, we’re talking kindergarten or something, remember watching her on the telephone talking with her siblings back in Santiago, and mind you I’m 5 or 6 at the time, and it was like grandma had this superpower.
I didn’t understand how she could do it, but she could make all these crazy sounds and somebody else got it and they could do it back.
It was like this secret code something, and it pissed me off that I was excluded from that circle, that I wanted that superpower.
And I think that was the first goal that I ever kind of unconsciously set for myself, that someday I want to have grandma’s superpower.
I want to be able to do what grandma does and to be able to talk in that secret code and have that exclusivity.
And that was my obsession.
My mother likes to say I was the only kindergartener she knew who had mastered Pig Latin, it just became this need to speak other languages and that was the beginning.
And I was obsessed in high school with learning Spanish and had our exchange students and spent some time abroad.
I did Japanese in college later on and one thing sort of led to another and it just became this obsession with understanding, being understood, and being able to connect with people through different aspects of speech.
And it has just led me to where I am.
Ryan Foland: Interesting. What a cool story. And it made me think of that moment of Ralphie who got his decoder ring.
Laura Sicola: Yes, and the Red Ryder BB gun.
Ryan Foland: And he’s trying to figure it out and there’s like this youthful excitement, the voice in the back and like oh this is going to be good, we’re going to figure this out, and then obviously, he finds out just to always drink his Ovaltine.
Laura Sicola: The Ovaltine advertisement.
Ryan Foland: Big, big, big letdown, but it’s I think what stood out to me is that childhood fascination with something that you just don’t necessarily understand.
But, you know you have enough interest to chase it down.
Are you the type of person that you have that for more than one aspect or has linguistics dominated?
Were you a super competitive athlete and then you were super over here?
Are you the type of personality that dives into a lot of things or dives really deep into one thing?
Laura Sicola: Probably somewhere in the middle.
I have a few really deep hobbies and passions, certainly depending on time and availability in the stage of life and kids and all that kind of fun stuff allows for certain exploration, more deeply than others.
But I would say one of the other areas that I’m really passionate about for a while, I began pre-children was, I love to dance.
And I didn’t, I never considered myself a dancer. I always said I was a musician because all my rhythm was from the waist up.
But once I hit 30 I started doing swing and I loved swing dancing, Lindy Hop, all that kind of stuff and I was teaching it for a while, I just absolutely love dance.
Moved to the suburbs, lost the community of that and the opportunity to do it, but my other one is food. I am a foodie, I love to cook, I love to eat.
I love any excuse to buy a new ingredient that I’ve never tried before, some new foreign condiment. I love reading, recipe magazines, and all that kind of stuff.
And I think it started back in after college when I realized I really wanted to eat all that food, but I couldn’t afford to go out to all the restaurants as often as I want to do.
So my only other option was to figure out how to make it for myself.
So that’s been a lifelong obsession and I’m fortunate that my kids are picking up on that trend as well so we have a lot of fun in the kitchen.
Ryan Foland: Interesting, for the dancing.
Do you think that part of the passion was the communication that you were doing, that you’re expressing physically, instead of vocally?
Is that, do you think that that was part of it?
Laura Sicola: No, you know, I think what I liked about that most, it’s started, I used to play the alto sax.
That was my for 10 years back in school.
Ryan Foland: What is an alto sax?
Laura Sicola: Saxophone, you know what a saxophone is?
Ryan Foland: Yeah.
Laura Sicola: So the alto is just one of the two smaller ones as opposed to the big tenor or the ginormous bari sax, the baritone. So, it’s one that mortals can carry without toppling over.
Ryan Foland: Without sax neck, right?
Laura Sicola: Well, you get that anyway, but yes, that definitely happens.
So it led me to discover jazz and that kind of big band era music, which is a lot of fun, and you can’t listen to big band music and not just feel compelled to dance.
Even if you have no idea, there’s just something about the energy of it that just makes you want to get up and do it.
And when I was 30, I discovered a local place that would teach some lessons and I thought, you know what, I just need to do this and I fell in love with it.
And what I learned to really appreciate it and it bothered me at first, which is kind of ironic that in partner dance traditionally the man leads and the woman follows.
That’s not how I’ve lived my life. And that was stuck in my craw in the beginning and then I realized it was a gift because the dance floor is the one place where I don’t have to make one decision, none.
I mean, you know, there are opportunities for me to stylize and to do whatever else, not that I have that much skill, but just not having to make a choice.
He has to do all the thinking and as long as he’s a decent lead, I can interpret what he wants me to do and it’s just a purely physical experience, get lost in the music, get lost in the motion, and turn off my brain.
It’s the one place I get to turn off my brain, and that is a gift.
Ryan Foland: That is very cool. Now, this makes me think of a couple of other questions, and then we’re going to move on. I’m just fascinated with this stuff. So if you’re listening you’re like, “Come on, get to the next section.”
Laura Sicola: “What the heck is he talking about? Who cares?”
Ryan Foland: Slow your roll, this all has to do with this. So this idea of jazz is very impromptu and not very structured.
What you just talked about with dance, is that you have sort of these boundaries that you can work within.
But then you have a freedom of just like movement and flow.
As we transition here to getting advice on how you dance the talk and how you play the speech, is this idea of off the cuff and impromptu and just with your ability even to sort of throw spices together and things, do you think that that because that’s what I see is your mastery, is being able to take all these words and all these things linguistic wise and use them as like spices and recipes and put them together in certain ways that resonate, resonate, emotionally, resonate cognitively and resonate behaviourally.
Maybe give me some more of that food.
And so do you see sort of your superpower as knowing the details, the nitty-gritty, every single spice, and learning the moves so that you can have that flow?
Or are you the type of person that really needs that structure?
You need the dance moves and when you have that structure, then you’re in the flow?
Laura Sicola: From the metaphorical perspective, as far as connecting it with speaking, I think the former is a really good way of looking at it, I think it’s a great analogy that part of the mastery and that balance of art and science is having the experience, having enough experience and enough skill development that’s become second nature where you understand the nuances of this hot pepper versus that hot pepper.
You understand the difference between brown sugar and white sugar or between soy sauce and tamari.
Ryan Foland: Or saying your name fast or putting a break in between or carrying the F out a little bit more, right those nuances?
Laura Sicola: Right. Exactly.
So when you understand those nuances and you’ve learned the skill that that 10,000 hours of sorts worth of how many free throws do you have to practice?
You know, guys in the NBA still practice their free throws.
Because it’s the mastery part of it that you can always just get that little half percent better.
So, the more masterful you become at the science, the more you’re allowed to use the art, to play with it more.
And I’ll say a lot in with even foreign language learning, you can’t break a rule until you know how to use it correctly because then you know how to break it in a way that has the desired effect.
You know, if you’re going to just, I’m going to throw in a random example, but if you’re going to use a grammatically, a prescriptively incorrect phrase, like, “He don’t want this,” or, “He don’t do that.”
I used a phrase in a training once that I was doing and I said, “Oh no, he don’t.”
And naturally, the way that I speak, that’s not a standard phrase that would come out of me.
But understanding that, I “broke the rule” because I wanted it to have an effect.
I used it deliberately, but someone who’s going to regularly use that particular grammar pattern is going to have a different impact.
Who is your audience?
Does that resonate with them or does that not resonate with them?
Does it stand out to them and as a distractor, or it know that the way we normally speak, and so you should say that because it sounds more like you and more like us and we connect on that front.
But if you are learning English as a second language and you use that pattern, it’s just going to sound like oh you haven’t learned English very well yet.
So you have to understand do you have mastery of the fundamentals at which point then you can choose when to break them artistically for the best impact.
Ryan Foland: Artistically, breaking the rules. Awesome.
And you transitioned into the second part of the show, which tells us the science and the art of speaking from your perspective.
Now, we don’t have, you know, 17 days because I bet you we could talk that long.
Laura Sicola: I was going to say, that’s kind of a big question.
Ryan Foland: So I’m saying, we can’t cover it all and that’s why I want you to pick one of these off the shelf, 2 of these off the shelf, maybe 3 at the most- but what are some of the things that you think could get the simplest piece of advice or pieces of advice that can move people forward the most? And one of them is how to say your name, right?
We kind of covered that already but that type of nuanced, tell us some of the rules or something that we can do to break it artistically up on the stage.
I’m fascinated to know what is percolating in your mind right now.
Laura Sicola: I think the first one is the important variation that whether you’re giving a five-minute talk or an hour-long keynote or something that’s virtual or in person, the ability to vary your delivery much less your content is incredibly important.
We’ll go back to the musical analogy.
In any given song, there are going to be louder points and softer points, there are going to be sections that are faster or slower.
There’s going to be your andante and there’s going to be your presto and all those kinds of dynamic words.
There are going to be parts that you punctuate and are much more staccato with breaks between, and there are going to be other parts that you want to have a lot more fluid to them, even though that was grammatically terrible phrase, you know what I mean?
Ryan Foland: Be more fluid. But, you know, we were right there with you.
And that was a situation where whether, we talked about breaking rules, whether you break something without knowing, like the context and everything was still there, still made sense. So yeah.
Laura Sicola: It’s about even your pitch and your energy level, you and I have been talking in a more dynamic way, I’ve certainly been a little more on the high energy so far but there’s a time and a place to bring it down, slow it, make it softer, it’s no less intense. It’s still there. It’s still holding you and holding the topic in your hand.
Do not lose focus on what we’re talking about right here.
But then you up it later on again and that’s different. It’s the shift. It’s when everything is all one-note, if everything is all loud and all high energy and all the super-fast, then you just feel like you’re yelling at me and after a while, nothing stands out because everything is so loud.
Similarly, if you keep everything on the softer, slower, and lower energy component, then you just want to say bueller, bueller, anyone, anyone and that is not the impact that you want to have on your audience, but there’s a time and a place to bring it down.
Because that when you bring it back up again with each shift that you do. even shifting from the up to the down that captures people’s attention, they need the variation, they need the constant shift because it’s like on a roller coaster, you want to know, “What’s the next curve? Is it going to be a loop-de-loop? Is it going to be a corkscrew? Where’s the drop? I can’t see where we’re going, what’s next, what’s next?”
As opposed to if you’ve seen those little “inchworm roller coasters” at the boardwalk at the beach, little ones for the toddler’s that just go around and around up and down, and up and down, and up and down, and up and down, that monotonous, sure for them it’s enough and some adults probably still want to throw up on those kinds of circular rides, but nobody wants to listen to a talk that’s that constant.
There’s nothing interesting to captivate my attention when nothing stands out, then your attention wings.
And that’s really important to be able to maintain the audience’s attention. Everything that I teach is about being able to master what I like to call the three C’s and that’s the ability to command the room or the screen, the stage, etc, to connect with the audience and to close the deal.
And closing the deal just means getting to yes. Kind of thinking about those impacts that you want to have, a behavioral impact the response, the reaction that you want people to have after they’re done listening.
Command the room, connect with the audience in close the deal and you cannot command the room, much less connect with he the audience, or close the deal if you are very one-note through the entire piece.
You have to have those transitions, you want to make people smile and have that brow furrow of concentration, focus and interest and intrigue and curiosity, and whatnot. And you want to make them laugh and make something go right to their heart.
And you want the more emotion you can deliver to them and help evoke from them.
The more they will feel like you have done number two, which is connecting with the audience, that feeling like I understand you and I feel like you understand me.
You don’t know me from Eve, you’ve never talked to me before, we’re not interacting, I’m just listening to you on stage or on the podcast.
But somehow I feel like you know me, and I feel like I know you, we’re getting each other. That’s powerful. Variation is key, to being able to do that.
Ryan Foland: I agree. So let’s think of some practical things to help our listeners know how to implement this because I think you have commanded the point.
I think that you’ve connected with us through the real-time examples that we are listening to how the changes and what it is we can hear. So really great live example.
You’ve got me to the yes, I’m good with it. But what are some of the ways people can actually implement it? And what I find, in some of my clients is that when they just get excited it all that goes out the window, or when they get nervous it all goes out the window.
One thing I tried to share with people and Vin Giang actually turned me on to this super simple concept of- if it’s not that important, it’s okay to be at a normal or faster pace and like, you know, if it’s just contextual than it’s okay, you can be excited, you can speak about it.
But once it starts to get important, that’s when you slow down. And so that’s like an easy trigger of like, “Is this really important what I’m saying right now?” “This is important. I need to slow this down right now.”
So are there any tips or tricks for people to they like the idea but like when the moment happens, when they get handed the mic, what are some of the ways that they can trigger these actions?
Laura Sicola: Part of it is starting with the end in mind, thinking about what is in this section of my talk versus some other story, or some other statement, some I’ll call it your mic drop moment, your big boom A-ha, oh my gosh, that’s the moral of the story, that’s the lesson to take versus the context, as you mentioned for each of those points, what emotional state do you want people to be in?
And what do you want them to feel? To think? And again, to do? What do you want them to do with what you’re sharing?
If you want to go on a journey, you’ve got your GPS, you can’t just say, “Hey GPS, or hey, Siri give me a route.”
They’re going to say, “Plug in your coordinates first. Where do you want to go?”
Where do you want to take them?
Ryan Foland: I’m a sailor. You got to know where you’re going to actually get there, especially since your headed in a few different directions, tacking them back and forth, so it’s like I like that. Okay.
You need to set your GPS points so that then it’s not a matter of remembering to do this tactic, it’s the fact that the tactic is what gets you to the destination that you’ve decided.
Laura Sicola: Correct.
Ryan Foland: Okay.
Laura Sicola: And most people don’t start with that. They think, “I want to talk about this. I want to share this. I want to say-”
Well, okay, what do you want them to think, feel and do as a result of it? That’s the key.
And that’s what a master of TEDTalk will do, that’s what a master of the keynote will do. Because it’s one thing if you get people to think something, that’s nice.
If you get them to feel something, they’re much more likely to connect with it, and ultimately can you get them to change their behavior somehow, to take an action, click on a website, read a book, and be more patient and empathetic with somebody, to explore?
Whatever it happens to be? What is your call to action?
As a speaker, do you have a call to action?
Because if you don’t, then you really don’t have a destination. You should always have a call to action.
Ryan Foland: This comes back to influence.
So I teach classes on influence, I’m passionate about authentic influence and one of the things that you said there sticks out and the definition that I like the most when it comes to influencing, I love to ask people, influence is ______ (fill in the blank).
And I have this game where nobody can say the same thing twice and so even at a class of 20 or 30 people, you get all these variants, and yeah that’s all influence.
But my favorite definition is two parts. It’s the power of persuasion, one element is that you have to get people to change the way they think. And the second is you have to get them to take action.
Because one or the other, it’s not a full influence, if that person doesn’t recycle their can the next time but you convinced them that they should do it and they do it in front of you, it’s not influence.
And so I think at the end of the day, what I like about this piece of advice is that you’re looking at the end in mind and it’s not a matter of like some tactic or gimmick of slowing up or speeding up or slowing down, it’s literally what will get you to the result that you want as a result of being up on the stage in the first place.
Laura Sicola: Exactly.
Ryan Foland: Brilliant, all right. Variation, that’s it. I think we just nailed that. One thing that I sort of heard you say, but I’m pulling out and sort of paraphrasing, is when everything sounds the same, nothing stands out.
Laura Sicola: Yes.
Ryan Foland: That’s it. And so change it up. Now, you could change it up in a number of ways, not just vocal variety. You’ve got volume as you talked about, you’ve got pace, you’ve got tone, you’ve got all these things.
Laura Sicola: Which to me is all the vocal. That’s all vocal variety. There are many components, not just pitch.
Ryan Foland: Well, let’s pitch onto the next section and I want to know some of the things that you’ve done from a business perspective.
I mean, you’ve got this podcast, you’ve got a TEDx with 6.5 million views, probably 6.6 million views after this podcast.
But from a business growth or building business perspective, what has worked for you or what’s working with you now in this sort of new environment?
What advice would you give to somebody who is either starting or just wanted to improve their business of speaking?
Laura Sicola: It depends on what stage you’re in, but I think one thing people are often very hesitant to do that they really shouldn’t be hesitant to do, is to ask.
So if you are on a podcast or you are talking with someone else who is, it has been on a particular stage or screen or show or something along those lines, ask them, what stage should I be on, or what referral can, who could you introduce me to?
I do a lot of coaching, I do a lot of training and at the end of a session or at the end of even my own podcast and I don’t interview experts like this, I interview executives, but I’ll ask them when we’re done with the actual episode recording, now that they know me, they know my topic, they know my style and my energy,
“Are there any conferences where you think I’d be a good speaker?”
And you’d be surprised who says yes or what boards they’re on or what conferences they regularly attend, because my work in leadership communication, it’s not industry-specific.
So whether you’re asset management or you’re in cyber security, or you’re in whatever it happens to be in it, I may or may not be your keynote, if you’re looking for a keynote who is industry-specific, a big name in the space, but maybe one of the talks that are going to be in your day is not industry-specific, but something that will still help everybody else is that much more excellent and more successful in their career, in their roles, and being an effective communicator, and a more inspiring leader can only help everybody.
So they never thought about that before. But they’ll say, “Yeah actually you know what? Let me introduce you to this person or that person.”
You have to ask, don’t be shy. It’s not about being arrogant or imposing, just see what they say and maybe they’ll say, “You know what, let me think about that.”
Okay, that’s fine. And they may or may not get back to you, and you may or may not choose to follow up, but at least plant the seed.
Ryan Foland: Never ask never get.
That’s one of my favorite things that I remind myself of. I just have a big event that’s going on tomorrow that I’m putting on and we realized that we might have needed heaters.
And so the person in charge of ordering all the catering, all the food, and all the stuff from this big rental company, they’re like, “It’s too late, it’s too late, we can’t ask.”
I was like, “Never ask, never get, send the email, like why not?” And guess what. We asked. They said no.
And then the next option was like, okay, let’s see if Home Depot has them. But it’s like there is I think that fear of asking.
And I think part of it is that you don’t want to come across as too aggressive or too forward. And what I noticed about your approach here, this isn’t just like, never asked, never get like, “Hi, my name is Ryan Foland,” that was too long on the F, I felt it. “What stage should I speak at?” Like, you didn’t start with that.
You built some strategy, you got them to know your energy, you gave them the information you provided with them with value, and as a side note like, oh, hey, BT dub, do you think that is there anything that comes to mind?
And I think that’s a key part of this because never ask, never get on its own is maybe like, yeah, you just become the person nobody wants to introduce to other people because you’re always trying to get something from yourself.
So, I think that’s interesting. Now, you gave that example in a podcast, could you think of some other opportunities that arise and to what level that initial rapport building value giving is? Do you have certain rules outside of because not, everybody has a podcast, right? But maybe play some other situations where that plays out.
Laura Sicola: Well, one thing that you can do is a social media live, a Facebook Live, a LinkedIn live whether you have 10 people or 50 people or 100 people who are on there’s nothing that says — you with a friend or just you by yourself, but usually a conversation is better.
A solo act people may or may not choose to jump on each and every time but if each time you say much like we’re doing here with the podcast, you’re going to introduce somebody else whose work is interesting to you, whose work is related to yours, where together you give value to the other people, you create that shared experience, then you get to bring together, your various fan bases as it were, whether you have 5 or 5000, or however many.
And you introduce this other person to your fans and they hopefully have also marketed this a little bit promoted it, they bring their fans to listen to you.
Now, you’ve expanded your reach and at the end of that, hey, those people who are listening may refer you to somebody else, but also you can talk to that person and ask them where they’ve had success if they’re able to introduce you to somebody else.
For me, I’ve been doing weekly LinkedIn lives, Facebook is not really where I’m going to find most of my people. I mean, I had a Facebook account, but it’s not a primary-
Ryan Foland: Preach to me, preach to me, I don’t know when the last time was. I’ve almost thought about canceling Facebook a few times and I didn’t because of the connections and whatever else.
But yeah, if you’re listening to this, do not find me or follow me on Facebook you can find Laura on Facebook but she’s not going to shoot you, find her on LinkedIn.
Laura Sicola: Well, I mean, I’ll be completely transparent. I only opened a Facebook account, maybe two or three years ago and I have never personally accessed it.
My people said Laura you’ve got your LinkedIn down, we’ve got your personal LinkedIn, and your business LinkedIn.
We’re creating for you an Instagram account and a Facebook account. They want to talk about twitch and whatever else I’m gonna, whatever.
Ryan Foland: You’re on Twitter, right?
Laura Sicola: I am on Twitter but I’ve had Twitter for a long time, but again, I don’t, my people post stuff for me, I’m not doing a whole lot on that myself.
LinkedIn is my space because again, my audience, my ideal audience is business leaders, are executives.
I’m not looking for, I mean, I love working with entrepreneurs, I love talking to all sorts of different groups but that’s not who’s going to pay me the real fees that I want to command.
So you have to think about that.
But I realized that my podcast is an opportunity for me to engage my ideal client but LinkedIn live is a very different space for me to talk with people like Ryan.
So Ryan, if you and I want to come on and we could do another conversation like this and talk about strategies for effective public speaking.
People would love that and you and I as co-experts could just provide that much more value to the masses.
And, you know, then we can talk about it because they have more experience together and other ideas of where we could cross-refer.
And that’s a different kind of experience. If you don’t have a podcast, I mean, LinkedIn live, yeah, you have to apply for it and it may take months before they get around to saying yes and giving you access but Facebook, I don’t think it takes anything.
So there’s nothing that says, you can’t get out there and get people to know and learn to like and enjoy the consistent value that you provide, when you show that you are interesting enough to listen to, you provide Great Value, and you’re consistent, in all three of those people trust you. And that’s the kind of person they want to refer to.
Ryan Foland: Boom. I think that was very well said. And my mom always told me that Ryan, it just takes one person, and you never know who that person is. And in our case, that one person was Michael Houlihan.
Like there are certain connections that happened, just with an audience of one, you had them on your podcast as an audience of one, and that sort of matriculated to where years later he thought, “Ah, Ryan, you and Laura would have fun talking together.”
So I just want to reinforce if this is something that you could ask a specific audience on a specific platform, knowing your GPS destination in mind, right?
So you’re not just blatantly asking everybody that you know, but it could take. I mean when did you have Michael on your podcast? Do you remember?
Laura Sicola: Almost two years ago.
Ryan Foland: Two years ago Ago. Now, this sort of power of one, power of shared experience, power of just putting yourself out there is actually connected, right? And who knows what’s going to happen here?
So, here’s my ask to everybody.
Knowing Laura’s energy, knowing my energy, knowing that a way to build business is to make an ask, I’m asking all of you, if you know of a stage that would be great for Laura, give her a ping, not on Facebook, not on Twitter, but on LinkedIn, find her on LinkedIn and, you know me and if you can think of a stage that needs high-energy ginger to bring it, then you let me know, right?
So there, practice makes perfect when you actually, practice it, right? So, I just practice it for us.
Laura Sicola: Yes. And here are 2 little tips on that too.
Number one, if you do reach out to somebody on LinkedIn, don’t just hit the generic request connection button, give one line, just say,
“Hey, I heard you on the podcast with Ryan, thanks for the information, I would love to connect.”
Then at least I know why you’re reaching out to me.
Because, as you do get better known, there are some weirdoes out there who just want to connect for inappropriate reasons.
Or frankly who just wants to sell to you over and over and over.
So many people who promote podcasts or do this or that, I’m not interested in being pitched by two out of three people who try to connect with me every day, so delete, delete, delete.
I don’t want to miss a scribe and accidentally delete yours.
So let me know that this is a real connection and great, I would love to connect with you. I think that’s important.
And the other point is that, if you are someone who’s like, “Ooh, Live Video, Facebook Live.”
Sorry, as a speaker, aren’t you live? So if you’re somebody who has that mental head trash about being on camera and doesn’t like the live stuff, I have 3 words for you- Get over yourself.
Ryan Foland: Yes.
Laura Sicola: You need to be confident in front of any audience and this is a way to build your followership, start doing more live videos. It doesn’t have to be an hour, it can be 10 minutes because then when you’re done the archived version goes into your feed and people can always watch that later on.
Also, I did one last week on adding humor to work and life with somebody who’s both a leadership trainer and a trained stand-up comedian.
And so she was fabulous. It was hard-core content, but fun at the same time and we had like 5,000 hits within 72 hours, that’s great!
And with that one, there was an hour-long program, it was 56 minutes before the first person, dropped off the call.
That was a record, 56 minutes in before anybody.
And that person actually put in the chat an apology for the why they had to leave, and because it was getting close to the end of the hour and I was like, dude, you’re free to go.
But, you know, thanks for letting us know that you really didn’t. That’s the difference between a captive audience and a captivated audience.
Most audiences at best are captive. They can’t leave but they really want to.
A captivated audience has the freedom to do anything they want. And they choose to stay and listen to you. That’s what you want.
Ryan Foland: That is fantastic. And I say something tangential to that, I talk about how people are paying attention, that they’re physically paying with the opportunity cost of spending time with you, they’re paying, not real dollars but time and time is sometimes more important than dollars.
So, if you want somebody to pay attention, then give them something.
So, I love this. And I just imagine everybody trapped in a room without the ability to leave, right?
And the digital world has given us all that leave button down there at the lower right-hand corner. This is fascinating and true to what we’re talking about.
I want to interview that person you’re talking about. I haven’t even heard of her, but you convinced me, you’ve convinced me to say yes, for me, after the show.
I’m not going to tell everybody now but I will ask you for that introduction and there we go. This is how the magic happens.
Well, Laura, this has been like my verbal cup of coffee for the day. Probably going to go watch your TEDx talk again, just for fun. I’m going to be practicing my name.
I’m going to be changing it up, reminding myself that I need to figure out where I’m going, speed up, slow down, and all these other vocal variety GPS buttons to get there.
So I just want to thank you, thank Michael, and thank just, you know, the opportunity to spend time with someone who is not necessarily in the same room, but feel like we really, I’ve gotten some value, so selfishly I think everybody else did.
Tell us about how you can help people, and tell us about yourself. We know we can find you on LinkedIn and let’s come to a close on this before anybody jumps off because everybody is just still here.
Laura Sicola: I love it and thank you for the opportunity, Ryan, this has been a great conversation and lots of fun.
For people who like to follow up, of course, as I mentioned before, you can find me on LinkedIn and follow me, follow my company Vocal Impact Productions.
Check out the website, Vocal Impact Productions.com, or go to speaking to influence.com for my book and for the podcast, and there are all sorts of links there for whatever platform you prefer, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.
So any of those would be terrific. Please do follow up and would love feedback. So drop me a line and let me know if you heard this, what your biggest takeaway was, your A-ha moment that you said, “From now on I got to do this”.
Ryan Foland: Look at that connecting, giving an excuse for people to reach out to you without asking, and then you’re going to connect with them and then you’re going to size them up if it’s a good connection and then eventually you’re going to build rapport, you might have them on your podcast and then who knows.
After that podcast, you might ask them for a stage and then that’s how you continue to build and grow your business. And It can be that simple.
Laura Sicola: Absolutely.
Ryan Foland: All right. Remember, simple is not easy, at all.
But what is simple is a platform called SpeakerHub and they are a proud sponsor here past our 100th episode and I love their platform.
So if you were a speaker and you need a home base if you don’t have your website or even if you do, go to Speaker Hub.com and you can set up a speaker profile. Just think of it as a landing page.
They also have a search engine too where you can find it scrapes the internet of all kinds of calls for speakers and you can set up actually preload some of the talks that you have and the takeaways and drag and drop and make applying for things easy.
That’s if you want to go that route and you combine that route with connecting, with adding value, with speaking to people’s emotions, to their cognitive cells, to influence their behaviors so that you can command the room, so they are not captive but so that they are captivated, helping you to connect.
So at the end of the day, they say yes.
Laura Sicola: 100%.
Ryan Foland: I feel like I’m up on stage right now, but I’m feeling the pressure because I have my favorite linguist who’s listening, but I’m over myself at this point.
This is just about learning. So thank you so much, Laura. I’ve had a blast, it’s been a lot of fun.
Laura Sicola: So have I, Ryan, thank you so much. This is a great opportunity.
Ryan Foland: All right, thanks, everybody.
And if you want to find out more about me, Ryan, and if you want to find out about me online, then all you have to do is go to Ryan. online.
Laura, how is that? I haven’t applied the name thing to my URL.
Laura Sicola: That’s interesting. So it’s Ryan. online. That’s the website?
Ryan Foland: Yeah, that’s it.
Laura Sicola: That’s fine. Just like it was a first and last name, Ryan. online.
Ryan Foland: That’s it.
Laura Sicola: Okay, got it.
Ryan Foland: There’s no .com. You go on your browser, you go, Ryan. Online, but I haven’t really, I’m now thinking about how to play with that space, where, you know, do I need to go, Ryan, bring it up, and is the dot pause still up and then bring it down for the online?
Laura Sicola: Yeah I would do it like that. And what’s interesting is that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a URL that ends with online.
So I’m expecting a .com something else after it, and it wasn’t there which is why I was like wait for it what’s missing?
Is there an at, is there something else, some other form of the syntax that is missing? So that’s interesting.
Ryan Foland: So did I surprise you or confuse you?
Laura Sicola: Both. Because it wasn’t part of my pattern that I knew how to plug something into, but love it.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. And that’s why I try to have this set up. If you want to find out about me, Ryan online, then just go to.
So it’s a little education like to be cheeky and then Ryan Ryan. online, going down, kind of thing.
Laura Sicola: Yeah, you know what’s interesting? I wonder if because it only sounds like a piece of a URL and people expect at least 3, like w w w .something.tag at the end.
Ryan Foland: Oh yeah, I could, I could go to www.Ryan.online.
Laura Sicola: Yeah, that sounds complete, then it’s like, oh, that’s interesting.
That’s the tag. I forget what the little suffix part of the URL is called the.com or the dot, whatever else.
I mean I’ve got some like my online course which is all about how to take your in-person experience and bring it online and be as good in the virtual world as you are in person and it’s Virtual Influence. today.
Ryan Foland: Hmm. What about this? What about Virtual Influence. online?
Laura Sicola: Which is interesting, right? And I’d never thought about that before. So, that was I think because it was your name. And then I’m sort of waiting for what does that mean?
Ryan Foland: No, I’m gonna add the www and also for you and everyone listening, get your pen ready.
I’ll send it to you, though so you don’t have to write this down. But if you go to Ryan.Online/dotonline, it brings you up to the Dotonline search engine.
And if you find a URL like Vocal Academy or whatever you want.Online, you can use a codeword Ginger and you can get 90 percent off your first year.
Laura Sicola: Interesting.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, I love the Dot online, technically speaking, there’s no difference from searchability or an engine perspective or anything like that.
Technology doesn’t matter. We’re just getting over this lexicon of everything has to be a .com, but you can also have .fund, .tech as you said, like .live, all these different things. Ryan.online/dotonline, use a codeword Ginger.
And that’s my little treat to you. If the code doesn’t work, then just send me an email. Get this, my email.
Laura Sicola: Yes.
Ryan Foland: Ryan@Ryan.online.
Laura Sicola: Perfect.
Ryan Foland: I’m gonna have to practice this.
This is fascinating, we started with the name, we ended with the website, good stuff. Laura.
So I appreciate all that you’re doing and I’m excited for this to be another connection point. We’ll see where it goes.
Laura Sicola: Looking forward to it. Thanks again for the opportunity, Ryan.
Ryan Foland: All right everybody, go check out SpeakerHub. Go check out Laura, go check out Ryan. Wait www.Ryan.online.
Alright peace out, everybody, we’ll see you next episode.
A bit about World of Speakers
World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voice, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.
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This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.