TRUTH … if you’re a coach or consultant and you aren’t out ‘speaking’ about your business; you’re halting your business growth!
If you had told me this 4 years ago, I have argued with you STRONGLY because I couldn’t stand in front of a group of 10 for 20 minutes without my knees knocking, stomach turning and my notes rattling! With some training, coaching and persistence, I’ve moved past that. Now I regular speak about my business (3-4 times a month) and get clients; and I host my own live events. Who would have thought?
Speaking is a skill that you can learn and master. Speaking is also one of the most powerful marketing strategies to increase your visibility as an expert. However, just going out and talking about your business may bring you compliments and visibility but be sure that it’s bringing you clients!
Here are some secrets that helped me overcome my fear of public speaking:
1. Start small to build confidence.
Your first speech doesn’t have to be a commencement address or a keynote. There are tons of local networking groups always looking for educational speakers (especially if you are a member of that group). Speaking to 5 people in your living room counts! So does being a member of an organization like Toastmasters (which is how I started and how I recommend my clients start).
2. Be yourself
A confident speaker is one who shares their message …. from the heart. It’s not about visualizing the audience in their underwear and memorizing your words. It’s about speaking with passion about what you do and how you can help!
3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
This is where I could tell you tons of funny stories of things that have happened when you aren’t prepared (but we don’t have that time here).
However, if you’ve ever competed in a sport or played an instrument, you know that in order to become a master at something, it takes practice and preparation.. The same is true of public speaking. But what kind of preparation?
i. know your audience and craft your message to them. A talk needs to address your audience’s concerns not just yours. If your message is clear and it resonates with them, you will feel that as you speak and it will make you more confident and comfortable.
ii. anticipate objections/resistance and prepare to meet it. Find the mostly likely objections to your message and know how you are going to answer those objections. If you anticipate those objections, being able to address them reinforces your total mastery of what you are presenting.
iii. focus on the great content, not the length. Your talk is about quality, not the length. In fact, it is more difficult to give an effective 10 minute talk than to ramble for 45 minutes. That’s one of the many reasons that I teach my clients what’s known as a ‘signature talk’. A signature talk is one that you can give in 10 min or 90 minutes on the same subject with the same effectiveness. It has a specific structure to ensure that you get clients, not just compliments AND because you give it over and over again, you become a MASTER at it’s content and delivery.
iv. practice. Practice in front of the mirror, out loud, on video or to a colleague. I stand at the foot of my bed and talk to the pillows. Another tip I use, because I’m often driving for long periods of time, is to record my talk on my phone or ipad and then listen to it. You’d be surprised how much you want to change your talk after you’ve listened to it several times!
v. know your space. Always arrive early and get comfortable with the room set up and this will make you much more comfortable. I’ll share a funny story here ….. I went to Toronto to speak this spring for 40 minutes. I had a slide presentation and a print out of my talk (thank goodness). Now I’m used to giving talks with power point and having a computer nearby to check the upcoming slide. When I arrived, I checked out the stage but there was no projector to be seen. I asked the organizer and she said “Oh we have it all set up at the back of the room – you just need to signal the person at the back to change the slide”. Really? I had to raise my hand each time I wanted the slide changed!!!! Not ideal but I made it work. Ask in advance about the room set up!
4. Be kind to yourself.
It’s hard to be at ease and be masterful when you’re feeling tired stressed or forgetful. So don’t self sabotage by not getting enough sleep or arriving stressed out.
After your speech is done, take some time to reflect but be kind. Remember if you left out a section or forgot a word, the audience won’t know! Just ask yourself, what you could learn from that experience!
5. Prepare for things to go wrong!
The longer you have been a speaker, the more you’ll realize that things will go wrong and you’ll have the experience to stay relaxed. Things will go wrong — microphones stop working; batteries die; power goes out; computers black out (because you forgot to plug them in) and on and on. It’s all normal!
6. A great speaker wasn’t made overnight or by themselves.
Earlier I told you how bad a speaker I was 4 years ago but that changed only because I invested time, training and coaching to improve. Through each stage, I welcomed feedback and continue to hone my skills. Having feedback helps you gain more confidence. An athlete has a coach who gives him confidence; so does a musician; so do great speakers. Ask someone to help you become a ‘visible expert’ and watch your lead generation skyrocket!
1. If you aren’t speaking now as part of your marketing strategy, ask yourself why not?
2. If fear is stopping you, what tiny step could you take to decrease that fear? Could you join Toastmasters? Hire a coach?
3. If you are speaking now, are you getting enough leads from those opportunities or are you just getting compliments not clients? Perhaps someone could give you some feedback to increase the clients you are getting from your efforts!
Speaking in your own backyard as the Visible Expert is an amazing marketing strategy. It doesn’t have to be to large groups (although it can). Speaking takes many forms including guests on podcasts, interviews, webinars, facebook lives, etc. Be creative and have fun!
BE UNSTOPPABLE this week….