Most of us have had that nightmare where we’re in front a huge crowd of people just about to give a speech, and suddenly forget what we’re supposed to say. It’s almost as bad as the nightmare where you forget to put on your pants before going to work.
If you’re afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, you’re not alone. According to a Bruskin/Goldring Report, more Americans are actually afraid of public speaking than they are of death!
But what if you had a more motivating factor, a positive one that would make public speaking tolerable, or maybe even enjoyable? A factor that would far outweigh the fear? Would you consider it then?
Here’s the secret – public speaking is an outstanding way to grow your business.
I’ll tell you why:
It puts you in front of potential customers
Public speaking gives you the chance to flaunt your expertise in front of people who are interested in what you have to say, and build rapport with your audience. That’s the first step in the sales process.
If you choose your topic and venue carefully, you can fill a room of any size with a captive audience of potential customers. The key is to choose a topic that educates your audience rather than one that blatantly tries to sell them on your products or services. Chet Holmes does a great job of explaining how to do this in his book The Ultimate Sales Machine.
It positions you as an expert
You may not even realize that you’re already an expert. Think about how often friends, family and associates seek your advice on matters that you deal with every day, and you probably have an answer right off the top of your head. Could you do that if you weren’t an expert?
You have more than enough knowledge and experience to educate people outside of your industry. You can use that to position yourself as the go-to guy (or gal) which then leads to both media and potential customers seeking you out instead of the other way around.
It builds your confidence
Most people are deathly afraid of public speaking, and that’s exactly why you should do it!
When we take action in spite of our fears, it builds our confidence. Think about how you felt when you first learned to ride a bike without training wheels, or the end of your first day of school or resurfacing after your first trip off the rope swing at the lake. You were probably terrified at first, but afterward, you felt like you were on top of the world and couldn’t be stopped.
As adults, we tend to settle into our comfort zones because it’s the easy thing to do. We avoid taking risks and trying new things. The downside is that we rarely grow by any significant measure.
Change that today! Get in front of a crowd even though you’re scared as hell, and speak. Afterward, when the endorphins kick in, you’ll realize that you’re walking a little taller, looking people in the eye and are more sure of yourself than just a few minutes ago.
Remember, people like to buy from people they like and people they want to be like.
It improves your skills as a presenter
If you can speak effectively in front of a group of people and keep them engaged, imagine how much easier your one-on-one sales presentations are going to become! You’ll go from lots of “nos” and half-hearted “maybes” to lots of enthusiastic “yeses.”
You’ll want to pay special attention to reactions you get from the members of the audience. Anything you can learn from a one-on-one sales presentation, you can learn ten times faster speaking in front of a group of people because exponentially more reactions to learn from.
When you first start out, you’re probably not going to be very good at public speaking, but like a manager I once worked for said “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you get good at it.”
Practice until it becomes second nature. Then practice some more. Speak in front of any group can; at networking events, trade shows and anywhere else you’re given the opportunity. If you’re giving a particularly long speech, don’t be afraid to jot down some notes on index cards, or even use a teleprompter. And if you make a mistake here and there, don’t get to worked up about it – you’ll probably be the only one who notices. Just make a mental note and do it better next time.
It won’t take long before you’re an expert presenter, and that means more informed customers, a smoother sales process and of course, more sales.