Believe it or not, I know dozens of people who have put off completing a college degree because they were afraid to take the dreaded public speaking class. I have met business owners who have avoided opportunities to present their products or services to potential prospects because they were terrified of getting up there in front of an audience. When I hear that, I want to both hug them and shake them at the same time. It’s ok to be nervous, but one of the fastest ways to grow your business is by public speaking and avoiding it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s so simple to develop a great presentation. Once you get out there and present it a few times, you’ll see how great speaking can be to help you get more people wanting to do business with you.
If you are the person in the front of the room sharing important information that your audience wants to hear, they will be excited to learn what you have to teach them. You have instant credibility just by being the person asked to speak as an expert on a particular issue. Further, when you’re finished, many in your audience will want to hear more. People will line up to talk to you because they want to know what you think about their personal story. Or they have an example they didn’t want to share in front of the group. What a perfect opportunity for you to begin developing a business relationship!
Not sure where to begin? Here are some tips to consider as you develop a presentation that will wow any audience and get them interested in doing business with you.
1. First, start off with something powerful that makes your audience sit up and think, “This is going to be good. I can’t wait to hear what’s next!” Known as an attention-getter, the first words out of your mouth are crucial to getting your audience interested and engaged with you right away.
2. Next, know and address your audience. Who is there? Be sure you’re speaking their language and addressing the topics your audience wants to hear. For example, if you’re a parenting coach be sure you share stories of your kids or kids you have known or parents you have helped. If you’re a computer or technical expert speaking to a room full of non-tech people, make sure you avoid any language that will confuse your audience and speak “plain English.”
3. Have no more than three to five main points, regardless of how much time you have to speak. This will help your audience follow along with you. If your topic has a lot of areas to cover, think about how you can combine several areas, or sub-points, under one main heading so that you still end up with three to five main points. Be sure to guide your audience through your speech using transitions, clearly moving from one area to the next as you present your information.
4. Make it interactive. Come up with a way that you can involve your audience in your presentation. One simple way to get the audience’s involvement is to asking for questions in between main points, which will also serve as a nice transition. Here are three questions to try: (1) “Before I move on to my next point, what questions do you have about my first main point?” (2) “Is there anything you were wondering while I was presenting that information?” (3) “What else would you like to know about my first main point?” You could also ask a question and look for a show of hands and then ask someone with her hand up about her experience with whatever it is you’re sharing.
5. Finish strong. After you’ve completed your final main point, review what you’ve presented and remind your audience of a couple of important details you shared. Now is the time to tell your audience about your product or service. Have a sign-up sheet (I always have multiple sign-up sheets) and offer to send anyone who signs up a free article, report, or e-course about your topic. People love free stuff and this is a way for them to continue to learn what you have to offer. After you make your offer, tie your final remarks back to your attention-getter. This will give your audience the feeling that you have taken them full-circle, you’ve shared all the important facts about your topic with them, and you’ve brought closure that makes sense.
While knowing how to put together a great speech won’t necessarily make you less nervous, that’s ok. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Once you take your show on the road a few times and you see for yourself the great results that come with giving a well-prepared, powerful presentation, you may even begin to like public speaking– and start to look forward to your next opportunity to excite an audience. By following these tips as you prepare your presentation, you’ll be well on your way to seeing more business from your next public speaking presentation.
About the Author
Felicia J. Slattery, M.A., M.Ad.Ed., is a Public Speaker, Author, and Communication Expert with more than a decade of experience teaching people powerful communication skills in order to achieve their happiest and most successful lives. In addition to helping people put together public speaking presentations, she offers a free e-course at her website: http://www.TransformativeJourneys.com. Sign up now!