“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” – Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian
Public speaking is scary. You stand up there in front of an audience and everyone is staring at you. What if you say something wrong? What if they laugh at the wrong places? What if they don’t laugh at all. What if you’re not wearing pants!?
First of all, put some pants on. Secondly, public speaking doesn’t have to be the adrenaline-charged, thrill-seeking, extreme-sport that it’s often made out to be. Not only is it a simple matter of ‘practice makes perfect’, public speaking is also a great way to get brand recognition and increase/improve your brand reputation. By speaking at conferences related to your industry you can quickly establish yourself as an authority in your respective field. This creates a resonating call among peers and consumers with a clearly stated message saying “this guy/girl know what they’re talking about.” This in turn creates trust. Trust leads to business interactions, business interactions lead to . . . you get where we’re going here, right?
First you need to find the right places to speak . . .
- Have you tried Google? No joke, search ‘top conferences’ and you’ll find a list of conferences and events within your scope. You can then sort based on your schedule, how valuable the conference will be, projected attendance numbers, location, etc.
- It’s likely that you have some favourite internet resources, blogs, sites, Facebook pages, etc. that relate to your business or industry. These are all great places to find speaking opportunities within your field.
- Networking with other individuals and speakers within your field is a great way to discover speaking opportunities and maybe even get invited onto industry panel discussions. Don’t be afraid to ask what they think are the best conference and how you can get involved.
Plan Your Presentation . . .
- Speak on what you know. If your area of expertise is brand awareness, don’t talk about microbiology or the mating rituals of elderly gibbons. Build your presentation around your knowlege base.
- Consider opening with a story, interesting statement, or statistic. Something that grabs people’s attention right away. Make sure your message resonates with your audience. Using storytelling throughout your presentation will help the flow of the information you’re delivering.
- PRACTICE! It’s an old and over-used adage but practice really does make perfect. Rehearse in front of a mirror, then in front of other people whose feedback you trust. See where you can make changes to improve your presentation, get rid of that joke about the monkeys, and tighten up your conclusion.
Things to Remember When Presenting . . .
- If you can use examples from your own business, it increases your credibility and acts as free advertising for your product and/or service.
- Make sure you brand your presentation with your logo. Increasing your brand awareness should be a major focus of any public speaking event. Be sure to include your contact information, web site, and social media links at the end of the presentation and encourage people to follow up with you.
- Don’t be afraid to show your personality. People may have seen your picture or read your opinions on your social media posts but personality is a very hard thing to deliver online. Now is your opportunity to show people who you are.
- Engage with your audience. Make eye contact when you’re speaking and move around the stage. Don’t just stand there like a high-functioning statue, move your arms. Include your audience in your presentation by dropping them into the story. Encourage interaction where possible.
- Don’t underestimate the power of this face-to-face medium. Public speaking allows people to recognize you and seeing you in person humanizes you in the best way possible. It proves you’re real and that they can trust you.
Staying Calm . . .
Public speaking is not comparable to death. But it’s a big step for many people who will be stepping outside of their comfort zones. Remember to breathe. Understand what you’re delivering is something of value to the audience. Run through your presentation in your mind. Don’t fear failure. Rush towards embarrassment rather than be afraid of it. Be irrationally optimistic and . . .
Above all else . . .
Enjoy the experience! Take every public speaking opportunity as another chance to improve your skills, find new ways of delivering information, advertising your business, and increase your brand awareness.
Stop fearing public speaking, just get out there and do it and you’ll be surprised at how easy it will become.
Then you can get back to fearing rational things, like death.