10 tips to be a better business speaker

There are many ways to grow your business. One of the easiest, and cheapest, is to raise your profile through public speaking. This can take many forms: a lecture, a Q&A, MCing, etc. But not everyone finds it easy. If speaking in public isn’t something you’re comfortable with, don’t worry, there are a number of things you can do that will free you of that fear.

1. Speak about what you know
Your background, your history and your experience are unique. People love to hear others share their unique perspectives. Use material from your past or present as an avenue into your content. It allows others to enter your world and experience it through your eyes.

2. Smile
Smile. Your audience will feel happier. They may not all grin back at you, but you’ll see fewer frowns. And look them in the eye. Even if you don’t feel it, act as if you’re cool and calm. Confidence is contagious.

3. Timing
Brevity is key. You should aim to deliver your message in a few sharp and clear sentences. Time yourself when practising; if you feel like you’re being longwinded, take another look at your content. Keep it snappy, focused and concise.

4. Humour
Humour brightens up our lives. It also endears us to a speaker and their message. Even a hint of humour can put an audience at ease. However, use it wisely. You’re not doing stand-up. Try for too many laughs and your message can be lost in the gags.

5. Use pictures
People love colourful, creative images. Build images into your presentation, either word pictures (verbal descriptions that paint vivid pictures) or actual photographs. These can clarify or focus your message. If you let your visual imagination flow, you’ll be amazed where it takes you, and your audience.

6. Use the word I. A lot.
The I word is powerful. Use it often, but use it judiciously. Use it to reach out and connect with your listeners. Use it to express feelings, experiences and thoughts. When you use I it comes from your heart, your soul and encapsulates your individuality; it’s the part of your business that no-one else can copy.

7. Don’t give up
Try and try again. Keep on getting up and giving it a go. No matter how badly you feel it went (it’s never as bad as you think), get up, try again and focus on improving through practice. Set a few goals. Review them. Adjust them. Push yourself.

8. Find a mentor
The right person will you help you grow by listening, giving feedback and passing on advice. Attend a few talks as an audience member and seek out the support of the best speakers you come across

9. Travel
Don’t take the easy route and only speak at the same groups. Try the next town. Visit groups you’ve never met before. Remember, you’re doing this to raise your profile, and grow your business. New venues and fresh audiences broaden your horizons. They can also provide new material, different experiences and fresh feedback.

10. Speak in public whenever you get a chance
Whether it’s for 30 minutes or 30 seconds, take every opportunity offered. Even if it’s just saying an affirmative Yes. Take that first step. Step forward and take the opportunity. By starting, and breaking through any fear you have, even for a moment, you’ll find that in no time you will be unstoppable. And you’ll be communicating more efficiently with your staff and connecting more effectively with existing and new customers.