It wouldn’t be embarrassing if you were to admit that you dread the phrase “public speaking”. So do, or have done at some point, 80% of the people out there. It is quite alright if the words ‘public speaking’ make you cringe, I can understand that myself too. It probably brings back painful memories from early experiences where you had to give a presentation at school or at the college and all you could feel was your heart racing, hands shaking, face blushing and voice trembling. I think we can all relate to that.
Yet, the importance of public speaking has been growing progressively over the last 10 – 15 years. In fact, business would be unthinkable without it today. And not only for key position, CEO and Management professionals but also and especially for entrepreneurs or a small business owners. In fact, a number of professionals today find business solely through showing up at events and engaging in public speaking.
If you hold a key position in a large corporation, you will inevitably be up on stage at some point. However, it is not uncommon for business owners and professionals, including freelance professional, to be invited to give speeches at panel discussions, conferences, meetings and various other events nowadays.
And while some of us are well used to presenting and eager to be in the spot light at another of these events, others struggle being torn between this being a great opportunity for their business and their anxiety from standing in front of a room full of people.
If you are one of the latter, still hesitating whether to accept another invitation for a speech, let me tell you: this is, without a doubt, a wonderful opportunity indeed and this is what you should focus on. Forget about the anxiety, it is something that can be overcome and is overcome as you gain more experience talking in public. You might need to push yourself at first, but sooner or later you will feel comfortable and confident enough.
And here is why it is worth doing it:
- Public speaking will make your brand and business more personal
Giving presentations and speeches will make your brand and business much more personal. The people in the audience may or may not have heard of your company. Either way, chances are they know nothing beyond the logo or the name of it if you are lucky. Now they will not only hear about your business but this is your chance to establish a positive reference too. Once you’ve made your audience laugh or at least smile, you’ve established a rapport with them. This means that the next time they hear the name of your company, they will think of you and the nice experience they had listening to you. This you can never achieve through blogging, Social Media or traditional advertising. Regardless of how good your ads or blogs are, there’s nothing like the face to face contact with people.
- Public speaking will boost your credibility
Stemming from the previous point, giving presentations will boost your credibility. If you manage to establish rapport with your audience, you have grabbed their attention and if you’ve grabbed their attention, they will listen to you. This is your place to demonstrate your knowledge, to talk about what your own experience has taught you, to give advice. When you are up on stage and people like you, you have certain authority. Remember, if you got invited to the event it is because you are the expert on the respective topic or in the respective field. All you need to do is share your knowledge with the people in front of you. It will build up your reputation and consequently the reputation of your business. People tend to trust you much more easily when they consider you an expert.
- Public speaking generates leads
Showing up at events as a speaker will help you generate leads. If you are proactive and you look for events where to appear yourself, you will probably only select those events where you could find your target audience or potential partners. However, never underestimate the audience. Even when you’ve been invited and you think that the people in the crowd aren’t of any interest to you, you never know. People will probably walk up to you with questions, you will meet them after the event at the informal part, you will exchange formalities, LinkedIn profiles, email addresses, etc. Your network will grow and sales often start increasing as a knock on effect of that sooner or later.
- Public speaking will help you educate your clients
Through delivering presentations and engaging in public speaking, you have the opportunity to inform and educate your current and potential clients. If you’ve been invited to talk about your business, remember that the people sitting in the room are there because they do want to know more about it. This is your chance to answer questions, explain concepts, give them a better idea of what you are all about and basically draw a picture of your business the way you want it to be seen. And if you’ve been invited to talk about a different topic, people will still expect to hear who you are and a brief introduction to what you do. If that’s the case, don’t get carried away talking about business, there’s nothing worse than a hard sell. People would hate it thinking that they didn’t sign up for that. However, if you make the introduction about what you do compelling enough and if it ties well with the topic, people will inevitably want to know more about your business too as they will look up to you. At the very least, you will have mentioned your company and if you gain your audience’s trust and respect it can only benefit your business’ reputation.
There are many benefits of public speaking for your business, from creating more and more personal publicity for your brand to expanding your network and making more sales. For this reason indeed, public speaking has become one of the main marketing tools for all sorts of businesses, especially for the small ones. And for a number of entrepreneurs, from psychologists to business consultants, to market experts to writers, etc., public speaking has become an exclusive marketing outlet for their services.