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By Michael Sterling
Fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, is believed to be affecting 75% of the world’s population – that’s more than those who fear death. Despite research which shows public speaking builds confidence and strengthens your ability to get your point across, there is one thing we forget to acknowledge: public speaking is the cheapest PR games any business can play.
#1) “You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.” – John Ford
If it’s not honest, the message is never going to land. The beautiful thing about speaking in public is it gives you a chance to show the true colors of not only your business, but for you as a leader. Good leadership, as we all know, is one of the main qualities investors look to.
It’s important not to be a used car salesman, and by that I mean a stereotypical con artist who tells people what they want to hear. Trust me, this isn’t the 1950s anymore. Customers can smell disingenuous people from a mile away. One of the greatest things attributes you can hold as an effective speaker is to deliver a true and marketable message.
#2) “If you don’t know what you want to achieve in your presentation your audience never will.” – Harvey Diamond
The key here is authority and expertise. The greatest reward from speaking on a panel is the image you create. If you aren’t well prepared or don’t have an answer to an easy question, you sold yourself as a phony. Trust your expertise as a leader. It may be something different than what other panelists may or may not say, but that’s the point – to get a fresh perspective.
A new perspective births intrigue in an audience. More often than not, it also gives you more opportunities to network since there is clear information to share. If you tell them something they don’t care about or give them an impression that you’re untrustworthy, no one will be interested to know what you’re about.
*Tip: to grow networking potential, apply for panels like South by Southwest. Not only do they have multiple events that are sure to fit your field, but it brings some of the most innovative business owners from around the world. Even if you don’t speak, it’s a good idea to meet people inside your industry.
#3) “If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.” – Warren Buffett
In a revealing interview with Levo Legue, Warren Buffett shared his experience with public speaking. As a child, he was terribly frightened to talk in front of people. Once he realized that this fear was preventing him from expressing his ideas in an articulate and effective way, he decided to face his fear by taking courses.
What he gained was the ability to manage fear. When someone has “no fear,” in most cases, they’re less engaging behind the microphone. Fear can be the springboard to passion, articulation, and brain power. We think on our toes when we’re more nervous. All we have to do is learn how to control it.
#4) “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest” ― Winston Churchill
A speaker who rambles and doesn’t try to hold the audience’s attention will fail to make a strong impression. One thing to consider is to watch public speakers on YouTube. See how their cadence changes, their tone, rhythm, gestures, etc. Body language is almost as important as the material itself.
Take note on certain equipment you might need. Will having visual aids shine light on your point? Sometimes, a Powerpoint presentation can speak for a million words, instead of you going on a 3-minute boring description. Become your own director. Less is more.
*Tip: Powerpoint shouldn’t replace your speaking. People are more likely to remember you, not the machinery. Also, limit the “death by Powerpoint” situation. There’s nothing worse than having a slide freeze in the middle of your speech. If you insist on creating a bullet list, make them appear at the same time, not slide by slide.
#5) “There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” – Dale Carnegie
It’s normal to forget something during a speech, only to remember it later on. Relish in these mistakes, because you will always learn something from it. Keep in mind, we usually are much more worse in our heads than we were on stage.
One way you can rid yourself of regret is to record all your sessions. Watch them afterwards and take notes of the things you liked and didn’t like. You just might surprise yourself. There’s a huge chance you weren’t nearly as bad as you thought. But still, there’s always room for improvement.