Afraid of public speaking? My unscientific research proved the fear of public speaking more common than the fears of spiders, heights, darkness and flying. Learning to speak well is a surefire way to boost your business.
First, you’ll have to promote yourself as an expert in your field. I started out speaking and presenting to small, city- and county-based lawyer Bar associations, in front of as few as 4 attorneys. My pay was prestige, and I used these early events as currency for larger, more regional opportunities, such as my recent seminar at the State Bar of Alabama’s Annual Meeting & Legal Expo.
In your market, there are countless organizations welcoming new presenters and speakers. Volunteer whenever you can. Most won’t or don’t have a significant budget for paid professional speakers. They’ll be glad to have you, and you’ll get valuable experience (not to mention making great business contacts).
Once you get to speak in public, make sure you know your material. During one seminar, the person manning my laptop not only disconnected my slideshow mid-stream, but then skipped over my most important slide! Since only I knew it was missing, I kept going, shaken, but not completely off track. If it wasn’t for my preparation, and for rehearsing over and over again, I would have been sunk.
Here are a few more tips to get better at public speaking:
- Smile and make plenty of eye contact with members of the audience
- Show your passion and enthusiasm for the material
- Move around purposely on stage, instead of pacing nervously back and forth.
There are so many benefits to better public speaking — recognition from your peers and potential clients being just a few. Public speaking even helps you conduct better sales and client meetings!
Photo credit by neosiam.