Public speaking, especially to an audience of potential clients, can be one of the most effective ways to build your business and professional reputation. There are several advantages in mastering public speaking skills, including:
Much more effective final stage interviews/presentations
If you are comfortable and skilled in speaking in front of an audience of 25, 250 or even 2,500 people, you’ll be certainly much more at ease when you are in the final selection interview/presentation on a shortlist presentation. You’ll have mastered the timing, relevance, and interactive skills required for effective speakers.
One on many, yet one on one, interactions
Traditional business development and building processes require you to connect one-on-one with prospective clients. This is hard to do, especially if you need to cover a large geographical area, or reach individuals who are truly busy. Meanwhile, traditional one-on-many (mass) marketing, by its nature, disconnects you from direct interaction with your audience. You can produce written and video materials that may be seen by hundreds or even thousands, but you aren’t there for immediate response/reaction.
Credible leadership — the power of the stage
A speaking presentation, done right, elevates your status as an expert and thought leader. You’ll “own” the minds of your audience far better than any other approach.
While it is important to know your audience and adapt each presentation to the specific group, the speaking themes don’t need to be reinvented every time. As well, your speaking presentation can be converted to follow-up video/blog posts, articles, and even books, all adding to your effectiveness.
These points are good, but how do you manage to succeed at public speaking?
Matt Handal has published a simple e-book that outlines the basics: Speaking gigs made easy: Your guide to finding, booking and crushing them.
He wisely points out one of the best ways to get started is to join a Toastmasters group in your community. You’ll learn practical speaking tips and get plenty of practice opportunities in a healthy environment, and the costs are insignificant. Then you build from the base, and develop your reputation.
Is great speaking a magic bullet in every situation? Certainly, I’ve enjoyed some significant business success/results with successful speaking gigs, but I’ve also had my share of disappointments. As an example, I was invited to give a presentation last November at the Construct Canada trade show. I followed the book, and prepared and rehearsed and made sure the content would be relevant. But even with some help from me in marketing/promoting the event, the audience, was to say the least, very thin.
At another extreme, I once had a large audience but (gulp) failed in my preparation. I wanted to try some new technical tools to give the speech a more interactive/communicative engagement, but failed to rehearse enough to get the timing right and be comfortable when the inevitable bugs occurred. It was a disaster.
There’s a hard fact with speaking engagements. If everything doesn’t come together well, it can turn out badly. However, again, you can prepare and do exceptionally well. Even though my last gig “failed” for lack of audience, at least I didn’t trip all over myself and I certainly gained from the experience. Take a step-by-step approach, and you will find speaking can be one of your most effective marketing resources.