How Public Speaking Can Help Your Grow Your Business

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Image by Sira Anamwong of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Public speaking can be a huge snag for so many business owners. Even experienced and successful business owners often freeze up in front of crowds. While public speaking may not seem incredibly important when it comes to growing your business, you may be surprised how it plays into your networking efforts.

There are numerous ways to help reduce your stress when it comes to public speaking, and likely help with your business growth.

  1. Always be prepared. The best way to make yourself nervous is to try to get in front of a crowd and wing it. Take notes on what you plan to say, and have them handy. Walk the fine line between prepared and over prepared, though. Sometimes too much preparation can stress you out even more.
  2. Be specific. Don’t try to teach people everything about your business in one pitch. Focus on just one or two parts of your business each time you speak on it. By being specific, you can dive into something that you know well and feel at ease just out of familiarity with your content.
  3. Use visual aids. They help more than you think. PowerPoint slides can help keep you on track, and handouts can help you make sure that your audience can take home important pieces of information.
  4. Remember that you are the expert. Nobody else knows your business as well as you do. Don’t let your audience rattle you with questions. They simply want to learn about what you do, so help them do so.
  5. Be creative. If talking to a large group makes you uncomfortable, try starting with a Q&A and working from there. There is no right or wrong way to present to an audience, so do what works best for you and for your business.

What are your tips and tricks for public speaking? Let me know in the comments below!

What’s in a Name (Tag)

ID-100397028All businesspeople know how vital a name tag can be for developing new contacts and presenting yourself professionally.

That said, there are a few cardinal elements of a name tag that can really make or break its effectiveness.

  • Name size. The whole point of a name tag is to allow people to see your name. Make sure your name is printed in a legible way – this includes making sure it is big enough for people to read!
  • Company name. You’ll want to include your company name, your position, or both, on your name tag so that new contacts can connect you and your business together easily in their minds.
  • We often recommend putting your name tag on your right-hand side, and high enough up to where it can be easily seen when someone is looking at your face, or chin. The lower you put your name tag on your shirt or jacket, the more awkward it will be when someone tries to strain to read it.
  • I’m not a huge fan of those sticky, cheap paper name tags. They have their uses, but I like to carry a plastic or laminated name tag with me at all times so I never have to use one of those stickers. They come off very easily, get wrinkled, and are overall unruly.

Equally important to the make-up of a name tag is when you wear it. I think many professionals tend to wear their name tag anytime it even seems mildly necessary, just to prevent uncomfortable situations arising when the name tag was needed but wasn’t being worn. Here are a couple times when you may want to leave your name tag in your briefcase:

  • During one-to-one settings. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often the name tag is put on for a group meeting, then is left on well after the meeting when the individual is meeting with someone one-to-one.
  • When on stage. First of all, your audience will be so far away from you that they likely won’t even be able to read your name tag – no matter how big your make your name. The name tag can also distract from you and what you are saying, and often when you are on a stage in front of a large group you are giving a presentation that requires the audience’s attention.
  • When on video. A primary reason for this is many cameras flip your image, so your name tag will be backwards, unreadable, and will very obviously be unnecessary to the individuals you’re speaking with.
  • When in an intimate group. The exception to this is of course if every other member of the group is wearing their name tag, because your lack of name tag will draw (negative) unnecessary attention to you. However, in general, when a group is intimate enough to where you can easily remember everyone’s name and profession, or where you already know all of the individuals in the group, your name tag is unnecessary.

What tips do you follow for your name tag? Let me know in the comments below!

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?

Lisa Nichols: Powerhouse Speaking to Build Business

In this short video, I’m joined by my good friend, master speaker and trainer Lisa Nichols, to talk about “Powerhouse Speaking.”  It’s nearly impossible to grow a business without speaking, which is why business owners around the world use speaking to increase their customer base.

The question is, what is the most effective way to build your speaking platform and hone your core message in order to create the most revenue and financially infuse your business?  How do you systematically move your audience to action?  Watch the video now to learn how you can become a Powerhouse Speaker, build trust and rapport with your audience within the first seven minutes of speaking, and increase your closing ratio from 10 to 25 percent.

In what ways, large and small, have you used speaking to grow your business? Have you joined a weekly networking group where you give a short speech about your business to your fellow networkers each week?  Have you made a habit of speaking to community service clubs such as Rotary or Kiwanis?  There are so many ways to use speaking to build your revenue stream and I would love to hear about the particular ways you’ve used speaking and what results you’ve experienced from it.  Please share your stories in the comment forum below and, as always, thanks so much for watching my video blogs and participating by offering your feedback–I absolutely love hearing from BusinessNetworking.com blog readers!

MotivatingTheMasses

For more information, be sure to visit Lisa’s website: www.MotivatingTheMasses.com/Powerhouse.

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