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How Becoming a Great Public Speaker Helps You Achieve Your Business Goals

Public Speaking Business Goals

When it comes to public speaking, your small business might seem like a safe zone. You feel very comfortable in the presence of your team, and whenever you have important news to share with your customers, you do it through email newsletters and other content marketing efforts. There’s no need to stand up in front of total strangers and endure those butterflies in the stomach and sweaty palms that affect so many of us, right?

In fact, there are many reasons to get out of your comfort zone and develop your skills as a public speaker—and that’s especially true for business owners. Here’s why public speaking can help you achieve your goals as a business owner, and how to start building confidence in your own speaking ability.

How Public Speaking Skills Make You Better at Doing Business

1. Speaking Skills Help You Develop a Personal Brand

Let’s look at a TED talk as an example: “Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work” is one of the most popular talks among business owners. The speaker, Jason Fried, is a business owner himself. When you listen to him speaking, you get the impression that he is intelligent, charismatic, and most importantly, knowledgeable about his business speciality—workplace collaboration and productivity. This talk contributes towards Jason’s personal brand as a thought-leader on the nature of work, and as a result, it generates interest in his project management software company.

A good speech establishes you as a subject matter expert and raises your profile in your industry. It doesn’t need to be a widely-shared TED talk, but if people hear you speak at a local business conference and come away with a good impression, they’ll be more likely to seek out and trust your insights in the future.

2. Being a Good Speaker Helps with Networking

Public speaking appearances open up a world of networking opportunities. Potential business partners will approach you after your speech to make connections, or suggest ways that your businesses can join forces. In short, public speaking helps you meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have, and gives you the confidence to make the most of those interactions.

3. Practice Improves Your Self-Confidence

Public speaking is not the most comfortable thing in the world. For most people, it’s a scary situation. For some, the mere thought of public speaking causes intense anxiety. There’s even a term for that state —glossophobia.

If you do work towards becoming a great speaker, however, you’ll notice a huge improvement in your self-confidence. That’s a transferable skill, which will help you become a better business negotiator, too.

When practicing for a speaking appearance, try recording a video of yourself delivering your speech or doing it in a mirror. You might pick up on distracting quirks and tendencies by watching yourself that you would never have seen otherwise.  

Practical Tips: How to Become a Great Speaker

The benefits of developing public speaking skills are evident. Every single small business owner has something to gain by becoming a confident, compelling speaker. The question is: How do you do it?

Here are a few simple tips that will help you become a great speaker.

1. Start With the Right Script

Writing a public speech is completely different than writing something for print or online publication.  A speech is not simply a piece of content that you read in front of an audience. It must trigger interaction between you and the audience. You will ask questions. You’ll tell jokes. You’ll wait for the audience’s response.

The foundation of a great speech is a topic that you’re an expert on and passionate about. What do you find yourself getting excited about when you’re having conversations at work? Your expertise on the subject matter will help you feel more comfortable when you get up in front of an audience, and your passion about the topic will keep listeners engaged during the speech.

The content itself has to be thought-provoking, clear, and attention-grabbing. If you have a great script for your speech, you’ll be more confident to get out there and perform.

Most business owners need help with this part. If you can’t get the script perfect on your own, it’s important to rely on a talented writer from your team. If that’s not an option, you can hire a professional writer or editor to do the heavy lifting.

2.  Don’t Memorize the Content

Memorizing is an instinct for most people when they prepare for a speech. However, it’s not the right thing to do. When you memorize the content, forgetting a single word will throw you out of balance.

Do this instead: Write bullet points that summarize your speech and use them to practice. It’s important not to miss any of those points, but you can allow yourself to improvise along the way. That will add more character to your speech and will make you look and sound natural.

3. Mind the Visuals

A speech without a great visual presentation may be boring. The audience needs something to grab their attention, and good-looking slides will do that perfectly.

The slides should clearly be related to the points you’re addressing. They should not be too elaborate; there’s no need to write the entire speech on the slides.

By the way, “visual aids” can incorporate so much more than Powerpoint slides. Visual presentation can mean props, gesturing with your hands and body, and moving across the entire stage. If you want to see a masterful example of a speaker using physical movement to create visual excitement, check out this video of Bobby McFerrin explaining the pentatonic scale at the 2009 World Science Festival.

4. Focus on the Audience

People are afraid of public speaking because they constantly think about the way the audience will perceive them. “What will they think of me? What if I’m silly? What if they don’t like me?” That’s not the right mindset to have.

You should still focus on the audience, but in a different way: “What can I do to make this interesting for them? How can I give more value?” That’s the kind of mindset that makes the experience good for the audience.

5. Don’t Just Speak, Communicate!

You want to connect with the audience during the speech. Make eye contact with specific people and use your body language to emphasize important points. And be aware of your pacing: Novice public speakers almost always speak too quickly, which can convey nervousness and make the speech hard to follow. The trick is to speak slower than you naturally would, and include dramatic pauses to keep the audience on the edge of their seats and give them time to digest important concepts.

Take the communication further by inviting audience members to participate. You may ask a question that requires them to raise a hand if they agree. You may even include a member of the audience in the presentation (as long as they’re comfortable with it).

Are you ready to start presenting yourself in the best light? Working on your public speaking skills takes time and tons of effort, but the results are priceless.

Author Bio:

Howard RobsonHoward Robson is a blogger from Melbourne. He enjoys traveling, photography, computer games and meeting new people. So, feel free to join him on Twitter and Facebook.