Public Speaking for Business
I pride myself with being an observer of the human condition. By this I mean that I watch people regularly to see what works best and what does not work at all when they interact with others. Specifically, I observe what business owners and entrepreneurs say and do that wither helps or hinders their business efforts over time.
It came to my attention some years ago that the most successful business people seek out opportunities to speak publicly on any topic they are knowledgeable and experienced in. Being thought of as a public speaker raises you to another level in that others look up to speakers and tend to think of them as thought leaders, innovators, and those who are more intelligent than the average person. This can do wonders for your business if you are willing to refine your speaking and improve your delivery. Public speaking for business owners just makes sense.
My public speaking was awful when I began in 2006. It was the Santa Clarita Rotary Club that encouraged me to speak and helped me to overcome my fear. Within a year of speaking regularly in my city I was being asked to speak all over the country on various aspects of the topic entrepreneurship. Now I host my own live events twice a year and have spoken in several countries on three continents. But my business is predominantly on the internet. What I am suggesting here is that local business owners look for new opportunities to speak within the community and finally in a wider area for exposure and business growth.
Start with your own company. Provide yourself with situations that require you to create a short presentation on one of the topics you know well. Experiment with this to see if it goes over better with a PowerPoint or Keynote slide presentation, utilizing handouts, or just speaking from the heart. It will depend upon your topic, and remember there is no right or wrong way to speak to others. The key is to practice what you will say over and over and over again and to be open to constructive criticism and feedback so you can constantly evolve as a speaker.
Once you feel like your presentation is ready for a wider audience, contact local groups and organizations such as Rotary and ask to speak to the program chair. The best idea is to attend the meeting in person first and to have a one page information sheet about you and your topic to give to the person in charge of booking the upcoming speakers.
Keep your message clear and stay away from anything controversial, even if you know people in the room. It’s your job to present your information in a thought provoking way that leaves a lasting memory with people who hear you, so keep it positive and upbeat if at all possible.
Your topics do not have to be directly related to your business, but the idea is to make sure your audience knows who you are and what type of business you have within the first three minutes or so. One of the best presentations I have heard this year was from a woman who owns several physical therapy practices. Her topic was on the environmental impact of waste in the ocean on the sea creatures who live there. Within the first few minutes she explained who she was, what type of business she ran, and why she had become so interested in the sea. We were mesmerized by her slide presentation and the passion with which she shared her message. By the end of her talk the audience was ready to sign up for physical therapy sessions and anything else she had available.
By now you can see that public speaking for business owners and entrepreneurs alike is a great opportunity. Think about what you would like to speak about, overcome any fears you may have, and start speaking!