Most professionals at some point in their career must present to a group of their coworkers, clients or other professionals. While an audience of three may not make your knees weak, an audience of 300 makes an impression.
In an article on the Open Forum, Lindsey Boyer Pauline, a public speaking coach and speech-language pathologist says, “For a small-business owner, one-on-one meetings, small meetings and short pitches are the key interactions, but the rules of public speaking still apply.”
Here are a few tips for conquering your next speaking engagement.
1. Know what you’re talking about.
Do your research and know your topic. You don’t want to say the wrong thing. You want to demonstrate you are knowledgeable, polished and professional. Prepare for anticipated questions from your audience.
2. Understand the audience.
“Ease your nerves by remembering your audience wants you to succeed,” Pauline says. “We all want to talk to someone pleasant and knowledgeable, not someone fumbling to get words out. Your audience wants you to be a good speaker.”
3. Deflect the attention.
Make the meeting less about you and more about the other person. Its natural to want to do business with someone we like, so show a genuine interest in the person or audience you are talking with. Also focus less on how wonderful your product is and more about how wonderful your product can make your audience.
4. Write it down and say it loud.
Writing down what you want to say and them practice saying it out loud will make you more confident when you present it. Pauline advises when she runs public speaking coaching sessions with business executives, they always practice by talking through the presentation. Remember, practice usually makes perfect.
5. Practice Good Form.
Be organzied and prepared, use a slow rate of speech, make lengthy eye contact to show confidence, start and end with a good handshake, and take long breaths to slow yourself down and calm your nerves. And don’t forget to Smile – it shows confidence and likability.
Most of all, you only get once chance to make a first impression. If public speaking is a fear, you need to get out there and start doing more of it in places where there is less pressure. Try a community groups or giving toasts with friends to develop your skills.
Learning how to prepare polished presentations and speak confidently are skills that can help business owners share their ideas, sell their services and win more customers.
An interesting article on the Open Forum addressed whether a college degree still holds value among employers. A four-year bachelors degree can be quite costly and the expectation is that with a degree, you are more valuable to employers… or not as this article suggested.
The article cites a new survey by Manta which reveals that more than 60 percent of small-business owners find no correlation between employee performance and education levels. However, about half of small-business owners require their employees to have a college degree.
While a college education is a great tool to prepare many individuals for the workforce, is it necessary for most business positions? Does on the job experience trump a few years of learning about a career?
“Manta found there was one group among which a college education was valued, and that was the business owners themselves. The survey found that 70 percent of those polled had a bachelor’s degree, and more than 60 percent thought their college degree was important to their business success.”
SO, it begs the question… how valuable is a college degree? Certainly if you want to be a doctor or engineer you will need one to be successful in your career, but for the rest of us, does it really matter?
In an economy when things are changing so quickly that workers consistently need to be trained and retrained with new skills, is experience more valuable?
Although there is not yet any significant change int he number of students attending and graduating college, the next generation may find trade schools more valuable for landing their first real job.
Do you feel your college degree is losing value among employers?