Public speaking? Who does that anymore? If you are a sales professional, you will be speaking in public again – and soon.
Public speaking has been relegated as one of those skills in which poor performance is widely accepted. How many presentations have you seen that immediately grabbed your attention, kept you engaged throughout its delivery, and left you wanting more? How often has a speaker communicated a few very crisp messages that you easily retained? If you are like most people, the answers are probably very few.
How much more successful could you be as a salesperson if you could deliver this level of stimulation, entertainment and knowledge? What if your customers, prospects, and partners looked forward to your speaking engagements? Here are five ways to do just that:
1. Join Toastmasters. When I graduated from college, I was a decent public speaker because I enjoyed it and was not afraid to be vulnerable. But I was raw – when I spoke, there were not many pauses, I was too worried about perfection, and I would wander into the rabbit hole of details too frequently. Luckily, a friend of mine recommended an organization whose purpose is to empower individuals to become more effective communicators – Toastmasters. To become a better public speaker, find a club in your area at http://toastmasters.org, and try several until you find one that fits your needs.
2. Master the opening of every presentation. When listening to a speaker, there is nothing better than being led by a confident presenter. One of the best ways to build self-confidence during a speech is to nail the opening. A successful opening can provide enough momentum to pull the speaker through multiple slow parts of the presentation. After an engaging beginning, the audience is relaxed and friendly, your confidence blows through the roof, and your delivery becomes more and more conversational. I recommend investing two to three times more time on the opening as you do on the rest of the presentation. If you master the opening, you will figure out the rest.
3. Tell familiar stories. Many speakers make the mistake of trying to look too smart. They use complex graphs and slides, share crazy data, and use words you have never heard. This type of presentation puts your audience to sleep, and worse, the speaker can they lose their comfort level and natural tone. The best speakers tell familiar stories that audiences love and speakers can remember. There is no need for copious notes and hours of memorization – just tell stories. Your audience will love you for it, and you will be glad you did about half-way through your presentation, knowing that you are cruising along without being a data-spewing robot.
4. Prepare as though you have less time to deliver your presentation than you do. If you have 30 minutes to deliver your presentation, plan for 20 minutes. Knowing that you are not rushed will enable you to pause, allow the audience to breathe, and answer questions in a conversational tone.
5. Remember: Virtually no one is good at public speaking. Most people think about Tony Robbins, Martin Luther King, or the latest TED Talk sensation when they are asked to deliver a presentation. Comparing yourself to one of the greats is unrealistic and unhelpful. Remember that most people are extremely impressed that you are standing up in front of a group. Once you realize that all those people looking at you are terrible speakers, there is a strange confidence that will engross your emotions, and off you will go!
Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (www.vectorfirm.com), a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/12361573.