Introducing Yourself at Networking Events–Top Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .

When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later.  Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results.  One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do.  Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service.  Here’s the script sequence I recommend:

  • Your name
  • Your business or profession
  • Brief description of your business or profession
  • Benefit statement of one of your products or services
  • Your name again

Your name and your business profession are easy enough.  A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items,  but more often they are intertwined in your message.  It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service.  I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future” or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.”  These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”

In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time.  Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group.  If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.

Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time.  From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly.  If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times.  Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.

If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results.  If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comment forum below.  Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – please share your tactics with us.  Thanks!

Public Speaking–5 Ways to Ditch Your Fear for Good

In many surveys over the years, people have ranked the fear of public speaking as worse than the fear of dying!  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, networking for your business is going to involve public speaking.  You may find yourself giving a sixty-second elevator pitch at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The following 5 strategies are my top tips to help you lose your fear of public speaking and start winning over your audiences with confidence.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare!  Don’t wing it!  Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.  Use note cards, or type your remarks out on a piece of paper.  (Print with large handwriting or type in a large font–make it ridiculously easy to read so you don’t lose your place in the paragraph.)  Don’t over-prepare though; this can just lead to more anxiety.

2)  Be specific and talk about the things you know best.  At networking meetings, don’t try to teach people everything you do in one short pitch.  Think in terms of teaching the audience something of significance.  Focus on just one or two areas of your business–the topics you feel you understand best.  This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.

3)  Use handouts, visuals, or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation.  If you’re worried about stage fright, props such as books, slides, handouts, or gadgets will help you keep your mind on your topic, add a special element of interest to your presentation, and give the audience something to concentrate on besides you.  PowerPoint can be a great tool, but it becomes a noticeable crutch if you fall into the trap of reading from the slides.  PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation.  Read a few of the many books and articles available about how to effectively use PowerPoint.

4) Remember, you’re the expert.  It’s true.  In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say.  They’re eager to learn something from you.  If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible.  Believe in yourself and in your message.

5)  Be creative.  Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable.  Instead of talking to a group, engage them in conversation; or start with Q & A, and then answer at length.  Don’t be afraid to be different.  Surprise your audience.  Walk around the stage or up into the seats.  People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected.  Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy.  The audience will feel it and radiate it back to you, and before you know it, your anxiety is gone.

Here’s the deal . . . you can’t get better at something if you never practice it and the best time to start practicing is now.  So, start this coming week off by looking for opportunities to practice the above tips.  If you’re nervous, start small with your one-minute elevator pitch.  Make it a point to fill the entire minute exactly.  Work up to five-minute and ten-minute talks as you gain confidence.  When you feel ready, look for an opportunity to make a lunchtime educational presentation.  The program chairs of many associations and membership organizations are always on the lookout for speakers.  Position yourself as the expert; enjoy the satisfaction of educating other people.  When you remember to apply the tips in this strategy, we feel confident that it will alleviate much of your speaking anxiety.  One final thought: It’s good to be a little nervous.  Just convert that into positive energy, and you’ll have the audience in the palm of your hand.

I’m really interested in getting some feedback from all of you reading this blog, so please respond in the comment forum below to any or all of the following questions–and/or offer any thoughts related to overcoming the fear of public speaking. Thanks so much!

  • On a scale of 1 — 10,  1 being “not really afraid” and 10 being “more afraid than death,” how afraid would you say you are of public speaking?
  • What mental and physical manifestations of fear and anxiety do you experience when faced with having to speak in public?
  • What tools/strategies/tactics have you personally found to be helpful and effective in managing your fear of public speaking.  Alternately, what tools/strategies/tactics have you found to be useless or ineffective?

What Does ‘Overnight Success’ Mean to You?

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfv-fmNBLek[/tube]

During the course of the past two decades, I have had the privilege and honor of giving many keynote presentations and participating as a featured speaker at events across the world.  I have a great passion for public speaking and I feel very fortunate that organizations and associations continue to invite me to present at events internationally.

As a speaker, it is important to have a speaker’s reel video to send out to organizations who are considering you as a presenter at an upcoming event.  I recently enlisted Marrick Production Services to create my new speaker’s reel (click on the play arrow above to view it) and during the production process, I got to thinking about the different speaking engagements I’ve done and it struck me how many times I’ve heard people marvel at how amazing it is that I achieved such remarkable ‘overnight success.’

Every time someone says this to me, I reply with a chuckle and something along the lines of: “Yeah, it’s great . . . and it only took over two decades of hard work.”
😉

The thing is, I’m not sure there really is such a thing as overnight success. I know it happens in the movies quite often but, throughout my years of traveling and networking,  I have yet to cross paths with someone who achieved any kind of significant success without putting forth a great deal of hard work and dedication (speaking of hard work and dedication, a BIG thank you goes out to Mark Ellensohn and Chris Higgins for the hard work and dedication they put into creating this video for me!).

I’d really like to get some feedback on this–what does ‘overnight success’ mean to you?  Do you think a person can truly achieve overnight success, or do you think that the road to ‘overnight success’ is a long one that’s paved with plenty of effort and discipline?

Leave your comments and let’s get a discussion going! If you or someone you personally know is living, breathing evidence of overnight success, I’m particularly interested in that story (sometimes being proven wrong can make for very interesting content in speeches!). And, by all means, I’d also love to hear what you think of my new speaker’s reel!

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