Question: I am starting to break into public speaking to increase awareness for my business. What public speaking tips do you have for newbies?
Question by: Lalita C.
Connect with Your Audience—Literally
"Do research before you speak and find out as much as you can about the crowd; asking the person who is hiring you to speak is a good start. Arrive at the space a little early and start to mingle and shake hands with people. You are building rapport, which will come in handy when you are on stage and looking for a friendly face."
Ditch the Formal
"We are taught that formal speaking is more "professional," yet as audience members, we're bored to death by formal, buttoned-up speakers. Ditch the dull Powerpoints and corporate jargon and speak as though you're talking to a friend. You'll make a much greater connection with your audience and keep them engaged throughout your talk."
Deliver Useful Content
"Provide useful, actionable content, ideally in the form of personal stories and experiences to make yourself stand out. If you can tell your audience something truly useful and new that makes a positive impact, you'll be remembered, so make sure you have something truly valuable to say before you even get up on stage—don't just waste people's time to promote your business."
Tell a Story
"The best public speakers in the world are the ones who have stories to tell; simply explaining tools, strategies and case studies doesn't keep an audience interested or entertained. Weave stories into the mix and keep things as relevant to your content as possible. Make sure your story is unique and relatable, and try to crack a joke or two as well!"
Exhale for Extra Long!
"When you're nervous, you tend to take really shallow breaths. And when you're in front of a crowd, it's easy to keep breathing in (after all, your brain needs oxygen!), but you may forget to breathe out. I try to consciously breathe out and exhale for longer than I think I need to. This helps even out my voice, and also slows down my heartbeat."
Pauses Are Powerful
"You may think that you need to say as much as you can possibly fit in the time you have to speak, but that will limit your effectiveness. If you watch President Obama speak, you'll notice he uses pauses between sentences with tremendous impact. When you pause, it gives your listeners time to soak in your brilliant points and helps pace your speech."
Prepare a Physiological Pattern
"It's easy for new speakers to work themselves into a frenzy right before going on stage: nerves kick in, palms start sweating, and your hands and voice feel shaky. To channel the adrenaline effectively, take long, even and deep breaths, and try clenching your fists in short 10-second bursts. This will give your adrenaline something to do so you're ready to rock!"
Speak Now and Speak Often
"Speak to anyone and everyone who will listen. Repetition is the mother of skill, and the more you speak to groups, the better you get. You will also find out what works and what doesn't work; you'll find out what questions people have and what they are looking for. When you are out speaking, amazing people will show up in your audiences and want to do business with you!"
Quality over Quantity
"When I started my first business, I jumped to speak anywhere and everywhere that I could, thinking it was helping my business. The reality was I wasn't always speaking to the right crowd. If you're selling social media services, you don't really need to speak to social media consultants. Your focus should be on getting in front of your best potential customers. Efficiency is key."
Consider Barcamps and Unconferences
"I got my first speaking gigs at BarCamps, WordCamps and other unconferences. You won't know you're speaking until the day of for most events, but you can still prepare in advance. Going with this approach can give you ideas of what people want to hear about right off the bat, and sharpen your ability to speak on your feet. It's not always comfortable, but it's a great way to get experience."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.