Speaking to organizations such as chambers of commerce, service organizations and university classrooms can be great opportunities for small business owners to market their business. However, the fear of speaking may prevent individuals from taking advantage of this powerful tool.
Statistics show that three out of four people have some form of anxiety around public speaking. But that anxiety doesn’t have to stop you from sharing your expertise with others. Here are some tips for preparing for a public speaking event.
Know who your audience is and what your purpose is. If you’ve been asked to share information about your company’s financial impact on the community to the local chamber of commerce, your speech will be much different than one where you accept an award. It also helps to know who the friendly faces will be in your audience.
Know your time limit. I’ve worked with speakers who always talk less than the time allotted. There are others who improvise and take longer. Know your style and plan your speech accordingly. If you are apt to take more time than the average bear, write your speech for 20 minutes when you know you have 30. No one gets mad at the guy who speaks for less than he’s allotted. The speaker who takes too long, however, is not given the same regard.
Don’t use too many visual aids. If you are already nervous about getting up in front of a crowd, do you really need to be fumbling with additional equipment? Visual aids are great if they help forward a story. However, they are not good for hiding people’s nervousness. Really think about whether a PowerPoint is necessary. If you are sharing lots of statistics and photos, maybe it’s useful. But a PowerPoint as a screen to hide behind can backfire.
Use your natural style.