You may not be a natural born speaker, but as a small business owner this skill is important. Therefore, let’s share several tricks of the trade for those of you hoping to improve.
Public speaking can be difficult for anyone. Whether you are addressing crowds, small groups or even a handful of employees, it’s important to have the skills necessary for keeping your audience’s attention and engaging them as well. And as simple and easy as this may sound, it takes a certain amount of finesse to not only accomplish, but to do so successfully.
Below are 6 Steps to Becoming A Better Small Business Speaker published on The National Federation of Independent Business’ website. These steps and the advice provided are from experts in the field, including one of AccelaWork’s principals Robby Slaughter. Read thoroughly and thoughtfully; keeping in mind your own speaking engagements both past and present. Think about how you can utilize these tips in the future and how they will affect your overall goals. We’re certain they will not only help you improve, but will contribute to you becoming a more effective speaker!
Become an Expert
“Focus consistently on one topic and truly become an expert in that topic,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute. “Become known for something. The more niche, the better, so that when people are looking for speakers on that topic, you stand out.”
Tailor Your Message
“Get to know your audience—and their level of knowledge and interest—in advance,” says Timothy Wiedman, a retired associate professor of management and human resources at Doane University. “If most of them are novices, they will become bored and confused by a highly detailed, in-depth presentation—especially if you use industry jargon or unfamiliar terminology. Some folks will be perfectly happy with a broad overview, while other groups may want a great deal of detailed information. As an expert on your topic, you need to be flexible enough to deal with either extreme. Determine what the audience wants, and deliver it.”
Anyone can become a better public speaker by changing their mindset from relaying facts to telling stories, says Robby Slaughter, principal of AccelaWork, a firm offering insourced speaking, consulting, and coaching on business improvement.
“The word ‘storytelling’ should inspire a business owner to think in terms of a beginning, a middle, and an end; about describing conflict and resolution; and about having characters and settings,” Slaughter says.
Develop a Pre-Speech Routine
A “pre-game mindfulness routine” can get you in the zone for your speech, says Jennifer Davis, a leadership coach. “This could be a three-minute meditation where you just breathe and imagine a time when you had a big success, a power pose to allow you to feel confident and strong, or even a five-minute dance party in the bathroom to your favorite song.”
Engage the Audience
“Engaging your audience can mean telling stories with which they can identify, using stories that engage all their senses, asking reflective questions, using ‘you’ language rather than ‘I’ phrasing, polling the audience on opinion questions, telling hero stories about someone in the audience, and so forth,” says Dianna Booher, CEO of Booher Research Institute, member of the National Speakers Association’s Hall of Fame, and author of more than 45 books on leadership and communication.
If you’re serious about improving your speaking, consider hiring a coach and attending a Toastmasters event, says Callista Gould, a certified etiquette instructor. Toastmasters, a public speaking organization, allows you to practice your speaking skills, test new material, and receive peer feedback. Gould also says she thought she was a good speaker, but hiring a coach made her a better storyteller and a better writer.