As an entrepreneur, you are going to need to learn many new skills that will help you take your business into the black. Things such as delegating, time management, organization, and public speaking are all skills you will need to become proficient in.
Public speaking is one of these skills that you must master if you expect your business to grow. Whether you are looking to network or establish yourself as an expert in your industry, having the ability to give a speech or presentation is going to be paramount to the success of your business. If you have shied away from it, don’t worry as you are not alone. Most people dread getting up in front of a crowd and talking. Here are a few things that can help you the next time you need to speak in public:
Structuring Your Speech
So that you do not ramble and you are able to get your points across in the allotted time you are given, you are going to need to structure your speech. According to many of the great entrepeneur speakers, a speaker structures the speech by thinking long and hard about who is in the audience and why they are listening to him.
It goes without saying that this thinking has to be done before the talk. Knowing who is in the audience will have two consequences. The first is that we will have the opportunity to address people personally as opposed to speaking to an anonymous audience. We will also be able to relate to them personally and will have dialogue as opposed to one-way transmission, which is so terrifying.
The second is that we will be able to tailor and arrange the talk in a way that responds to the audience needs. This means that they will hear the talk they want to hear as opposed to the one they don’t need to hear, with consequent irritation and chilling of the atmosphere, always bad for nerves.
Dialogue and Rapport
Fortunately, there are very simple ways to establish dialogue and rapport. Let us look first at our use of eyes. When we look at an audience, we benefit from an unexpected multiplier effect. If you look at one person, up to twenty or thirty will think you are looking at them! If we move our eyes around slowly, from one quadrant of the room to the other, we can make eye contact with a significant proportion of the audience. We don’t have to feel we are making eye contact, just look and you will get the full benefit and create rapport.
Now let us look at other effective ways of creating rapport. “Do as you do when you meet people one-to-one, ask questions” suggest Sean Adams of the Motivation Ping. “We say ‘How are you?’ ‘How was your journey?’ It would not be appropriate to ask those questions of an audience, we really don’t want to hear the experience of all the people in the audience.”
However, there is a more fundamental point. In our examples, we have asked open questions. We are inviting people to speak for a long time. Most people don’t, but if we are unlucky they will tell us of their ailments from year zero. With an audience, we have to ask closed questions. That is, questions to which the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’. ‘How many have you been to Minnesota?’ is an example of a closed question. The audience can reply by putting their hands up or shouting out their answer. We are now establishing dialogue and the dreaded one way transmission that is such a cause of nerves can start to disappear.
The second way of creating rapport is to mention members of the audience by name. This can be done at all levels. ‘We were asked by John, our planning director, to look at the potential in the Mini-choke market’. John is now acknowledged, the audience knows what is behind your talk and you can refer to John and others in the audience throughout the talk. Names are very powerful. Using names helps focus our speech and makes it more likely that we will address the concerns of the audience rather than ignore them. We always advise people preparing a speech to identify those who will be present and to use their names in their talk. We can also use names of people who are not present but who are known to members of the audience, for example, the Managing Director and so on.
Our final rapport-creating device is to refer to current affairs that are likely to be relevant to the audience. They contribute to the sense of togetherness that helps reduce speaker tension. Please note the key word ‘relevant’. If you are talking to the local gardening club about growing flowers they will not want to hear about the latest events in the Middle East but they might like a reference to the current Chelsea Flower Show.