You’ve been asked to speak in front of a crowd about your business. Congratulations- or condolences? Public speaking is a major fear shared by many people – right up there with the fear of heights or the fear of snakes. However, giving a presentation about your company or industry can be incredibly good for business. This article is twofold. First, we’ll look at some ways to succeed at your next presentation and then we’ll talk about opportunities you can take advantage of to speak.
Succeeding at your next presentation
- Come prepared. For those who hear speakers on a regular basis, nothing worries an audience member more than the words “I haven’t prepared anything for today, I’m just going to speak from my heart,” (or something along those lines). The presentation, then, will usually be twice as long as it needs to be and so disjointed that nothing of value will have been learned.
- Not sure what to write for your upcoming presentation? Follow this very easy procedure:
- Decide the one thing you want your audience to learn.
- Write down as many sub-points as are appropriate and ensure that each helps to support the main theme in some way. Create a little section for each sub-point:
- State the sub-point
- Re-state it in a different way
- Give proof (if necessary) or the explanation
- Give an example
- State the sub-point again
- State the main point
- Put your notes on cards with just a few notes per card, including the sub-point, a few keywords about the explanation, and something to remind you about the example. (If your example is about dogs, for example, just write “Example: Dogs.”)
- Practice what you want to say but don’t try to memorize your speech. Practice to be comfortable.
- Approach the microphone as the expert. Believe that you know more than most about your topic (you probably do) and remember that they want to hear you and learn from you.
- Don’t try to be clever or verbose, just be yourself. You are probably very passionate about your business, so share that passion with others.
- Take deep breaths before going on stage and drink plenty of water before and during your presentation.
Succeeding with presentations
- Always have something to give away to the audience at every presentation. It should be more than a business card or a brochure; it should be helpful, perhaps a sheet that summarizes your presentation or a small booklet. If appropriate, bring something to sell at the back of the room after your presentation. (For example, a book you wrote or the product you talk about.
- Ask to speak at your local Chamber of Commerce. This can give you direct business if you are in B2B (business to business) sales. However, even if you are in B2C (business to consumer) sales, your local Chamber of Commerce can be a great source of business if you develop partnerships, reciprocal referral agreements, or joint ventures.
- Join a local Toastmasters group to learn to give great presentations, including off the cuff presentations.
- Even if you have no presentation scheduled, prepare a short (5 minute) speech about your business. Use a similar approach to that given above, so be sure to have a main point. This is more than just an “elevator speech” but rather it’s the kind of speech you give when someone says, “Can you tell us what your company does?”