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Perfect Public Speaking

I love TED Talks!  I will often click on ‘surprise me’ on my TED Talks app and watch something I’ve not considered before.

Few people willingly commit themselves to speaking in public even though it is one of the most powerful, persuasive and cost effective marketing tools for small business owners.  Whilst not all of us will even make it to a TEDx, there are many opportunities to speak locally.

In order to speak effectively in public we need to have the desire and motivation to speak, to understand and overcome the fear factor and to practice to be a perfect public speaker.

1 Having the Desire and Motivation to Speak

When you do a public presentation, you can broadcast your sales message to a wider audience than a coffee catch up with those you have met on the networking circuit.

Imagine an audience of potential prospects, a starving crowd wanting to see if they like what food you’re offering! You do, of course, need to speak at a venue of hungry people who have a ravenous appetite for your business offer. Do therefore ensure your talk will be relevant and valuable to them. By being the speaker and addressing an audience, you immediately raise your ‘worth’. Providing you make a reasonable presentation, people will hold you in high regard. They will see you as a font of knowledge and wisdom in your chosen area. You become the information guru. 

The great thing about public speaking is that you immediately know when you’ve had some semblance of success. People from your audience will approach you after your talk to engage with you in conversation, do take the opportunity to get feedback for further improvements. 

Often you will get requests for further meetings to discuss a problem or issue that individuals are facing because their trust in you is elevated.  You have become the preferred choice instead of your competitors. This does wonders for your confidence. The more talks you give, the more your confidence increases, your energy rises and you see improved business results.

2.  Understanding and Overcoming the Fear Factor

The root cause of the fear factor is that of being embarrassed or looking foolish. These thoughts are usually linked to something that happened in our past. We continuously remind ourselves of these experiences and ignore the numerous positives that have happened since.  These internal thoughts are so strong that they transfer into physical symptoms. Nervousness, agitation, heart palpitations and shortness of breath are some of the symptoms. Controlling our fears and feelings prior to speaking is the biggest challenge.

When we feel nervous our bodies produce the same chemicals as when we are excited. Now that you know this, instead of telling yourself you are nervous, remind yourself that you are, in fact, excited! Excitement is a prerequisite for public speaking. Nobody wants to listen to a boring, monotone speech delivered by someone looking half-asleep. Excitement and enthusiasm is much more likely to engage the audience. Therefore feeling nervous is a positive condition.

If you are prone to a shortness of breath, you can overcome this by taking a few breathing exercises. Shortly before you’re due to speak, take three deep breaths. As your diaphragm moves out, imagine you are slowly expelling the nervousness bugs.

You wouldn’t take on any type of physical activity without first warming yourself up. It should not be any different when you make a speech. The key to success and overcoming your fear is to make adequate preparation.

3.  Training to be a Perfect Public Speaker

The final and most important part of being a perfect public speaker involves the delivery.  The content of your speech needs to be relevant and appropriate for your audience if you’re going to deliver any value.

Start the process by preparing your content. It might be useful to prepare your speech by writing it in advance. You can then crystallise all the points you want to make and how you are going to make them.  Ideally, you want to organise your speech into three parts. A start, middle and ending.

       The start should explain what your speech is about and its purpose. This prepares your audience for what to expect and helps you deliver a structured speech.

       The middle part has the meat and the key messages.

       The conclusion summarises what has been said and finishes on a high with a strong call to action.

Use PowerPoint sparingly (and have a contingency in case of Murphy’s Law!). There is a tendency for people to use PowerPoint as a crutch. This diverts the attention away from the speaker and inevitably dilutes the performance.

There are many tips and techniques that can be used. When you are talking with your audience you can make your speech much more rewarding by making eye contact with members of the audience. Scan whilst you speak so that you are not speaking to just one portion of the audience and if you linger for a few moments with individual members of your audience, it will feel much more personal.

You can also employ engaging tactics with gestures, expressions, vocal variety, speaking rate, volume and use of pauses. All of these tools do need to be practiced before they can be incorporated into your speeches.

Summary

Public speaking is one of the most powerful, persuasive and cost effective marketing tools small business owners have at their disposal.  It helps you deliver your sales message to a wider audience; whilst you position yourself ahead of your competitors as the preferred information guru.

In order to speak with confidence in public, you need to overcome fears. You can overcome these by training yourself to think and act differently. You need to warm yourself up with physical breathing exercises and be well prepared.

A good speech needs to be of value and appropriate for its intended audience. The speech needs to have a beginning, middle and an end. The delivery of the speech can be enhanced using various methods including eye contact and stance.

To become a perfect public speaker you need to continuously fine tune and practise your skills. You can do this over a period of time in a trusting and fun environment such as Casterbridge Speakers.  These Toastmaster clubs provide an excellent training ground if you are interested in using public speaking to grow your business. 

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PS if you are not local to Dorchester then check out Toastmasters UK or Toastmasters International for one close to you.

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