Both business owners and marketers very often find themselves out at networking events, pitching for projects, providing training, leading creative groups, making sales and creating promotional videos. Whilst these are not typical public speaking engagements, they can still be incredibly daunting. For many, YOU are one of your chief marketing materials and it is essential that you can communicate in a clear and confident manner.
Channel Your Fear into Positive Energy
Even the most accomplished public speakers and leaders admit to still getting nervous before facing an audience. The key is not to see it as a negative or as a barrier to what you are doing. Teach your mind that those butterflies in your stomach are caused by excitement and try and remember all the positive and exciting things that could come out of this opportunity. This TED tallk discusses how to make stress work for you in high pressure situations.
“Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive”
Don’t Read Verbatim
You know and understand your products, your business or your sector so thoroughly that there really is no need to read off a script. If you were having a chat with a friend over coffee you would just use your natural interest in a subject to lead the conversation. You would talk openly and with animation, expressing your own views and opinions. This is what you need to carry with you into your presentation or pitch. You may think that reading it word for word is a safety net that will protect you from going wrong but in actuality it will make the whole thing feel stunted and lack personality.
Time Yourself & Cut Out the Fluff
This morning I was reading this post about ‘how to be the most interesting person in the room’ and one of the best tips was to be brief and to the point.
“We’re all terrible at realizing when we bore others because, well, we all think we’re just fascinating. The number one tip for never boring anyone comes from Scott Adams: Be brief, be positive. If you’re always to the point and stay upbeat, it’s extremely hard for anyone to accuse you of being poor company.”
Set yourself a strict time limit and then practise speaking as though you were actually recording that video or selling that product there and then. Cut your speech or presentation down until it fits into your time limit. You will find that this will cause you to cut out the dross and leave you with the gold of what you want to say. It will also help to reduce the chances of people becoming bored or switching off because you ran over and are now eating into their lunch or home time.
For (eh hem) cheery old me, this is something I really have to force myself to do. Stress and discomfort will show in our faces and body language. We need to be putting our audience at ease and not passing on our tension. I always try to have a good look at the audience, smile and say ‘good morning everyone’ (or other appropriate greeting) when I start a presentation. I then think it is good form to introduce yourself and your talk. This is low pressure info and will give you a chance to settle into what you are doing. If you have notes, don’t be afraid to write yourself little reminders to smile throughout the talk. I like the following sentence from this Psychology Today article “it turns out that when I smile, the world smiles back’. This will build trust and create a positive association with you and your brand.
Vary Your Content
Different people respond to different styles of communication. Some people love facts and figures whilst others will respond well to personal success stories and so on. If your target audience is wide ranging then varying your content will help to keep your presentation dynamic and broaden its appeal. This infographic will help you to identify the different learning styles.However, you may be addressing a very specific set of individuals who are looking for information packaged in a particular way. Do your research and tailor (or vary) your talk accordingly.
As a marketer, being able to communicate clearly, put people at ease and build trust is an essential skill. I hope that these tips have helped. I am going to go now before I start sounding too much like Dale Carnegie!