I know many of you are immediately anxious at the idea of getting up in front of people and speaking. Of course, there’s a name for that, glossophobia. This fear of public speaking is a very common phobia and one that is believed to affect up to 75% of the population. At the same time, it is one of the best ways for you to market yourself and your business. In presenting valuable information to an audience in a professional, entertaining way, you can go far in getting people to know, like, and trust you and that is at the heart of marketing.
Getting comfortable with public speaking is, for the most part, a matter of just getting up there and doing it. With time and experience, it gets easier to do. Here are some simple tips to get started (and it’s not about picturing your audience naked):
- If you can, take a public speaking class and/or take an improv class. Improv is a great way to get confident in your ability to “come up with something” in front of an audience. It also allows you to throw in humor in a natural way, in the moment, and not sticking in a planned joke that rarely works. When you can do that, your anxiety level will be much lower.
- Plan a short presentation. Getting up for 5 minutes is a lot less daunting than for an hour or more.
- Make it about something that you are passionate about, something you’d be excited to share with others.
- Start with a “safe” audience. Friends, family, and colleagues are less likely to make you feel nervous and can make for a great initial audience.
- Whether you are using notes or doing a Powerpoint presentation, don’t script it. Bullet point the information you want to address, but know the topic well enough that the bullet points simply keep you on track.
- Tell stories when you can. People find stories that make your case more engaging than a straight up list of facts.
- Look for new opportunities to speak. Maybe it’s doing a short presentation in front of the local Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, PTA, etc. (i.e. Pecha Kucha is a form of presenting that is 20 presentation slides (usually very visual slides) that are up for 20 seconds and then automatically move to the next slide. The whole presentation is less than 7 minutes and can be a fun way to get started speaking in front of strangers. See if there are any taking place near you.)
- Make sure that your topic is something of interest to that particular audience.
- Start to seek out more opportunities to speak. Again, the more you get in front of an audience, the easier it will be.
- Create opportunities to speak if none exist. Hold talks or workshops or classes and invite your target audience to attend.
- Lose your worry. Ha! That sounds simple enough, right? The truth is that we are nervous mostly because we believe we are going to be judged and judged harshly if we screw up. The truth is that most people know that getting up in front of others is challenging and will always give you the benefit of the doubt… as long as you provide content that is of interest to them.
Imagine that you go see a presenter. She delivers great content on something you were interested in and she did it in a professional way and made you laugh. Wouldn’t this take you a long way in knowing, liking, and trusting her? If you needed the service or product that she offered, wouldn’t she be the one that you would go to? This wasn’t one on one either. She made everyone in the audience feel that way and that’s why getting skilled at public speaking can be so great for marketing your business.
Now go. Start your journey on becoming someone who is confident addressing the masses.