By Rhonda Campbell
Public speaking is one of the most effective ways to get your message across to your target audience. That’s not all. You can meet influential business leaders at other organizations when you deliver keynote addresses at major events, people who can connect you to primary stakeholders in your industry. In fact, people will go out of their way to introduce themselves to you at the end of the public speaking events.
Let Public Speaking Rewards Exceed Your Imagined Fears
Yet, public speaking may be the last thing you’re eager to do. You’re not alone. Public speaking is said to be the number one phobia people face. Remember how nervous you got in high school just before you stood to deliver your English book report? Everyone’s looking at you and you’re worried that you might mispronounce a word, stutter or start sweating. The last thing you want is to see and hear your classmates laughing at you.
Those same fears can carry over into your adult life, making you avoid speaking in public at nearly all cost. However, if you take this approach you may miss out on prime opportunities to network, share your business products and services with other leaders and land paying public speaking gigs. At the end of public speaking events you can also set up tables and sell your products to audience members or hand out product samples that have your business website URL printed on the packaging.
You Can Get Comfortable Speaking in Public
If you’re still shaking your head and exclaiming, “I won’t do it!” consider learning more about organizations like Toastmasters or working with a life coach who can help lower your resistance to public speaking. You’ve got so much to gain it’s worth it.
You can also incorporate the following tips into your public speaking strategies:
- Research and review the material you’re going to deliver well enough in advance to feel confidently familiar with the material (you should be able to present a large portion of the material without having to constantly look at notes)
- Get an overview of the type of audience you’ll be presenting to. For example, you can contact the host of the public speaking event and find out if you’ll be speaking to a group of ministers, librarians, CEOs, technologists, etc. Cater your material to the audience.
- Do a walk-through of the speech to family and/or friends a few days before the actual speech. You can also tape record yourself giving the speech, play the tape back and make changes as needed.
- Speak clearly and slowly enough so that people can understand what you’re saying.
- Relax and have confidence in your own abilities. After all, you may have already raised children, cared for people in your community and led corporate projects. You couldn’t have pulled those tasks off if you didn’t have abilities. Clearly, you’ve got what it takes.
- Have fun
Take on additional speaking engagements as your earliest opportunity. The more you speak in public, the more your confidence will grow and the lower your fear will become. Who knows? In a few months or years you might command hundreds to thousands of dollars at public speaking events.
Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and the forthcoming Love Pour Over Me.