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.
Introducing our first guest post by Greg De Simone, a certified business coach at FocalPoint Coaching on the 10 keys of successful delegation. I love the way Greg’s points tie so nicely into improving the customer experience…
I recently read a post from a Kirsten Hodgson, a LinkedIn connection and a marketing specialist for professional service firms, titled, “Eight Questions Every Professional Should Ask When Taking New Work Instructions.” The pervasive thought that came through was that establishing expectations with clarity was mission critical when bringing on new clients. I couldn’t agree more. Cleary defined expectations agreed upon at the outset of an engagement or on-going relationship are essential if client retention is one of your key metrics.
Here are the eight questions Kirsten posed:
- What outcome are you looking to achieve?
- How important is this work to you/your organisation?
- What’s your deadline for this work?
- What are you looking for from us? All the options or our recommendation?
- What’s your budget for this work?
- Do you need to present the advice to anyone internally?
- Will you be our key contact on this matter?
- How frequently would you like progress updates and what format would you like us to communicate these in (e.g. face-to-face, phone, email)?
It also struck me how similar the fundamental concepts in those questions were compared to a delegation workshop I routinely deliver titled, “The 2nd Most Powerful Time Management Tool – delegation for the business professional.” The workshop summarizes the ten keys of delegation that I, as a Brian Tracy certified FocalPoint business coach, use to help improve my clients’ productivity and profitability.
Here’s a brief summary of the 10 keys to delegation:
- Focus on your high value activities
- Do what you do best….. delegate the rest
- Delegate based on demonstrated competence
- Define task clearly
- Set a deadline
- Establish milestones
- Agree on resources
- Agree on consequences
- Put it in writing
- Inspect what you inspect
Notice how clarity and expectation setting are woven into most of the key items. So, just as we want our relationships with our clients clearly defined with mutually agreed upon expectations, so do our employees when we delegate tasks, activities and projects. By following these steps (both Kirsten’s and mine) any professional practice can improve the performance of their staff which in turn will lead to improved client service.
What other things do you think are critical when delegating work/tasks?
Are there any other tips you’d add to Greg’s list?
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?
This is the second in a three part series about helping your firm increase its tender success rate. Last time we looked at how to evaluate tender opportunities. This time we cover what you can do to identify opportunities and position your firm before an RFP is released.
How do you know if a client will be putting work out to tender?
- If you are on an existing panel, make sure you have diarised when the panel arrangements will come up for review. Ensure everyone who works with the client knows. Using your intranet and/or client management space are great ways to do this.
- Talk to major corporate targets / government departments that either have panel arrangements, which you are not part of, or that have no formal arrangements, about how they procure legal services. Find out their future plans and what you would need to do to position yourselves to win their work in a particular area.
- Understand any thresholds or practices around tendering regimes that your targets/clients have (e.g. has to go to tender over a certain dollar threshold). Talk to them about what projects they have coming up, and what their objectives are.
What questions should you ask?
Irrespective of whether you are, or aren’t, a current provider, you should ask the same basic questions:
- What is the person, his/her team and the wider organisation looking for in a service provider?
- What is important to them? (from both a personal and company perspective)
- What are the decision making criteria likely to be?
- Who will be making the decision? And who will be influencing it?
And, if you are known to them:
- What you do well and what you could improve?
Or, if you aren’t a current provider:
- What are their perceptions of your firm, experience and people?
- What do their existing providers do well and what could they improve?
You should never assume you know why an organisation is going to tender. You should also keep in mind that what they tell you may only be a part of the story. Depending on how strong your relationship is, how well you know the organisation and how probing your questions, you may come away with more or less of the full picture.
How do you position your individuals/firm prior to RFPs being released?
- Having asked the questions, you need to respond. Work out what is important to the target/client and think about how you can demonstrate your expertise.
- Develop a plan! What work do you want, who will you target, what are the issues in their industry, how will you position yourselves and how will you get to know the key people within the target organisation?
- Make sure you demonstrate your expertise online and offline, thinking about the media the client uses/interacts with – for example placing relevant articles/thought leadership pieces in trade journals and newspapers, asking and answering questions and commenting on appropriate discussions on relevant LinkedIn groups (i.e. those to which the client belongs), Tweeting useful articles/other content both that others and you have generated, commenting on the client’s blog posts (if and when opportunities arise) and posting relevant content on your blog and website.
What else would you recommend firms do to increase their likelihood of winning RFPs?
How do you position your firm to win tenders before they have come in the door?