Are you apprehensive about public speaking? If so, this guest post by Cath Vincent, an amazing and inspiring motivational speaker and executive coach, is a must-read.
Jerry Seinfeld once joked that at a funeral most people would rather be “the one in the coffin” than “the one giving the eulogy”. It seems that public speaking is the number one phobia – but if you’re in business it could be costing you dearly.
It’s been said that there are two types of presentation: the one we gave and the one we wish we’d given. Or put another way, every person has two personas – the one who speaks confidently to a standing ovation, and the one who secretly doubts our own credibility as a presenter and wonders whether anyone is really listening.
Now be honest for a moment, when you stand to speak, which voice comes out?
The bad news is that if you are not supremely confident every time you speak, you’re probably not winning all the business you deserve. The good news is that it is simple to make massive improvements and there are lots of good reasons to do so. Here are just three…
3 business reasons to be a better speaker
- Because it’s considered natural to be nervous, most people never take the simple steps needed to fulfill their potential when speaking. If you invest just a little effort in this essential business skill, you will stand head and shoulders above your competition.
- When you find speaking in public effortless, there are heaps of FREE marketing opportunities such as network meetings where you can make your mark and become known as an authority in your field
- People listen to confident speakers. There is no better or more cost-effective way for your business to get noticed.
5 easy tips to being a more confident speaker
- If you slave over your preparation and getting the words just right – don’t! Think of it more as a conversation you might have with a friend than a formal life-or-death situation. In fact, verbal communication accounts for only 7% of the impact you can make. Allow yourself the freedom to ‘talk around’ your subject knowing that the impact of the actual words is very small. That way your personality will shine through too.
- If you do worry about forgetting your words, your message may be too complicated to remember. Boil your message down to just 3 key points. The audience can’t process and remember more than that anyway.
- People often tell me “I’m OK when I get onto the middle part” – you have to be compelling from the moment you start speaking. Whilst the body of your presentation can be free-flowing, you should learn your introduction and ending so you feel unwaveringly confident in delivering those two pieces. More time spent on these will pay dividends.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. Allowing a pause shows confidence and gives the audience time to process what you’re saying. You can afford to speak a lot more s-l-o-w-l-y than you think!
- Your job is to make it fun. Humour goes a long way in capturing audience attention. Clients often tell me “I can’t make legislation / technical specifications / annual accounts/ health and safety information fun”. You have to get excited about presenting your material. Energy is infectious. The audience will feel what you feel. If you’re uncomfortable, bored or uninspired, that’s how they feel too. If you’re excited, they’re excited!
A final word to encompass these tips: Don’t Learn It, Love It!
What do you think of Cath’s tips?
Have you found that you perform much better in speaking/presenting situations when you have a positive mindset?
For those of you in Auckland Cath, along with motivational speaker John Shackleton, is running a 1-day workshop to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking on Monday 5 September.
Why do professionals need to credentialise themselves?
Clients have a choice – they get to decide who they engage on particular projects, matters, cases or deals and who they spend their money with. According to research conducted by BTI Consulting in 2009 into the top ways clients select lawyers, personal recommendations are key followed by online searches (I assume this would be similar for selecting other professional advisers).
I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive but think it likely that, if someone recommends a professional to a prospective client, the prospective client is then likely to do a web search on that person prior to contacting him/her (although there will undoubtedly be lots of instances of people finding professional advisers online).
If a professional has sought to credentialise himself/herself then evidence of this will appear online – both on the person’s website, via their social media profiles, blog or third party sites (such as journals/newspapers/conference organisers). This all helps prospective clients to choose to do business with someone – it makes them feel good about their decision.
How can advisers credentialise themselves?
- Produce case studies outlining the client’s problem, what you did, and the results you achieved
- Obtain client testimonials talking about the benefits you delivered
- Speak at, and attend, relevant conferences/seminars and follow up!
- Run seminars at a client’s premises
- Run webinars and record them for attendees and those who couldn’t make it to view later
- Sell in article ideas to relevant publications
- Get to know relevant journalists and position yourself as a commentator
- Set up a blog and post regularly – if you hate writing consider a video or audio blog
- Produce guides, tips, or how-to’s and share these with your target audience(s)
- Host roundtables on topical issues
- Bring together clients with mutual interests and facilitate discussion
- Produce thought-leadership pieces
- Produce video-alerts or news-alerts on topical issues and the key things your clients need to consider
- Author an eBook or other book
- Initiate and comment on discussions on social media networks and on blogs
- Re-tweet or share good articles/blogs written by others that will be of interest to your target audience
- Ask and answer questions on social media networks
- Seek to demonstrate your expertise and capabilities through your bio – both hard copy and online
While this seems like a long list of ‘things to do’, we recommend selecting one or two subjects or topics and leveraging your interest and knowledge to credentialise yourself using the various channels (e.g. conferences, seminars, blogs etc). This will help you to build profile in a specific market or grow your standing as someone with particular expertise.
What other ways do you think professionals can/should evidence their abilities?
There have been some great blogs lately about the importance of creating and sharing good content. Late last year Great Jakes even predicted that 2011 will be the year that content marketing becomes king. And I think they’re right – particularly their prediction that websites will become publishing platforms.
However, I believe compelling content alone is NOT king. Here’s why:
If you want to position yourself as a thought leader and to generate work as a result of sharing your compelling content, then two other components are vital:
Ideally you want to be the person who brings an issue to your target audience’s attention, or who provides them with great, thought-provoking information about a topical (or upcoming) subject.
However, I regularly interview clients of professional services firms who say:
“I received X’s newsletter/alert on the new [employment law changes]. It was really interesting but we had already engaged someone to help us with that. Had X called us to give us a heads up before the changes occured, and then followed up with some brief information about the changes and what they might mean for us when the [new legislation] came out, they would have got our work.”
I’d say a lot of professional services firms miss out on work because the content they share, while valuable, is often poorly timed or sent out via only one channel when a multitude of channels would be better. If you’ve done the work, make sure you share it with those who will benefit from it.
- Make sure you are the one to bring an important subject/trend/development to your clients’ attention and then keep them informed as and when necessary.
- Use a variety of channels to share your content with your target audience and to engage with them – both offline and online (face to face is always the best form of contact with key clients and targets followed by phone, and then email and online).
- Leverage issues – pick an issue and make sure you’re all over it, or know enough to ignite discussion, inform clients or ask pertinent questions.
- Ensure your online content is readily accessible on your website or blog and that you notify your clients of updates.
- Direct people to your online content using social media, email etc. but think about when the best time to do this might be. If you are posting on Facebook then most people tend to be online during the evenings and weekends. If you’re using LinkedIn then during working hours is the best time to post.
When you’re thinking about what content you’re going to share, also think about when and how you’re going to share it – it might make all the difference between winning work and missing out.
What do you think?