Are you one of those that hear the word speaker and run for the hills?
If you can overcome that fear and use speaking in your business, it will do wonders for your confidence, offer opportunities for growth, and mark you out as the expert in the room.
Your comfort zone will kill you…….so here’s how to be a better speaker:
Get out of your own way
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Do they want to watch you on stage dying of embarrassment and being too nervous to deliver your message? Imagine what that experience would be like for them. They will feel uncomfortable on your behalf, and your message might be lost.
That may sound rather harsh, but if you are able to get out of your own way and think about the experience of the audience listening to your message, it really does help overcome some nerves.
Think about your speech in terms of the need to share your message. Why not give the audience the best chance to hear what you have to say and benefit from what you have to offer?
Fake it ‘til you make it – act more confident than you actually feel, and you may just find yourself feeling far more confident in the process.
Study the experts
Pick someone you admire who speaks from the stage and watch them intently. What is it about their delivery that really speaks to you? How does their delivery method work and resonate with the audience? Can you notice any tricks they employ to keep engagement and interest?
Ted Talks are a great place to study the greats – Brene Brown is a personal favourite of mine. Don’t despair or think you can never achieve such levels as those on Ted, use it as a learning opportunity and something to aspire to.
There are plenty of courses on offer too should you wish to invest in training.
Tell your story
Stories really sell, people are interested in other people, what bought you here, what do you have to share about your journey to get there.
You may think it’s insignificant and other people might not be interested, but it makes it real and human and will definitely resonate with someone (if not many) in the room.
Weave stories into your business, anecdotes, something funny, real-life examples of how your product or services has impacted your clients.
This will make you and your business far more memorable in the minds of the audience.
Don’t read from autocue or cards, this is not a corporate presentation where you have to stay on message. That’s totally boring and never interesting for the audience.
This is you, your business, your way with your personality and that is what makes the experience unique.
Yes, you have to bring more energy and life than a conversation around the water cooler, but you are still you.
Try and be as natural as possible.
Fake a little confidence (to yourself) until you start to feel that confidence grow.
Once this happens, you will notice how you are able to play with the room a little. Suddenly you are able to access that wealth of information you hold in your head, even banter with the room as you are able to ditch some of the nerves and start to enjoy the experience (I promise).
Have some tricks up your sleeve
Bad luck, they gave you the graveyard slot (after lunch) and everyone has had a slump in energy. You feel you are losing the room.
Keep your own energy up.
Have you seen Tony Robbins? He bounces around on a mini trampoline before hitting the stage.
What can you do to change the energy? A show of hands, standing up, changing places, high-fiving your neighbour? Judge the room, it can easily be over-done and become a bit too cheesy (I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of a very American-style vibe, which was just too much).
Here’s something to help if it feels like it’s all going wrong.
Know your stuff
Once you have decided what you are going to say, practice, practice, practice.
If you are comfortable and confident with the content, it will help your delivery.
People are giving up their valuable time to come and listen, you owe it to them to give it the best shot you have.
If you have not taken the time to study, practice, understand your audience it will show.
By standing at the front of the room, or on the stage, you are seen as the go-to expert.
That’s a powerful position for you and your business and is a great opportunity to gain credibility, increase awareness and if relevant, make some sales.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale
If there is an opportunity to sell from the stage, take it.
Keep the energy and language in the same tone, stay upbeat. Don’t suddenly start to falter or stutter because you are about to ask for money.
Get really comfortable with your sales pitch and really make it sing.
You may lose some of the room if they are not in the mood to buy, but don’t be afraid to mention what you have to sell confidently, if appropriate for the speaking gig.
I was petrified of speaking.
My only previous experience was from the corporate world, I disliked it and considered myself rubbish at it.
Once I started my own business, I decided that I was going to tell myself a different story about speaking. I wasn’t following someone else’s script anymore, and I decided to bring my personality to the stage and get better at it.
Now I speak lots, in fact, speaking is an integral part of my business. I still get nervous for some speaking events but know those nerves are good. Nerves help keep you on your toes and focused as to what you want to deliver.
I absolutely love it; the buzz, the energy, the ability to influence, help, guide and support a group of people through speaking is just great.
Start with small events and gatherings and work your way up to larger audiences.
Say yes to speaking opportunities when you don’t feel ready or comfortable and challenge yourself to get better at it. Decide you can and will do it, and see what you can achieve through observation, practice, and experience.
I’ve had people fall asleep while I’ve been presenting (very off-putting – but it was in a care home and after supper) and made people laugh or cry as I’ve touched a nerve and resonated with them.
It’s an honour to have the opportunity to speak to an audience and will reap benefits for you personally and for your business. Good luck.