March 2015 Coaches Corner
How to Become a Confident Speaker
Does the thought of speaking in front of a crowd scare you?
If it does, you are not alone. Not only is glossophobia (fear of public speaking) the most common phobia, but three out of four people suffer from it. That's 75% of the population!
As an Expertpreneur®, public speaking is an important part of your business. It's the fastest and most reliable way to connect with an audience, generate clients, and earn income. It also adds credibility in a way that the internet can't – by relating to people on a personal level, and establishing yourself as an authority.
If you are one of many who suffer from glossophobia, this article will show you simple methods you can use to overcome it. If you are ready to start speaking, you will find useful tips on how to draw in your audience as quickly as possible, making it the best possible experience for all.
You'll uncover the friendliest and safest environments for overcoming your fear…
5 questions you must answer in every presentation to avoid the dreaded “glazing-over”…
And the quickest way to win over an audience, and get people clamoring to hear more…
A Toast to Your Success
Truly, the best way to get over a fear of speaking is through practice.
Now, I realize that creates a sort of conundrum. You're fearful of speaking in public, but the only way to fix that is by speaking in public.
Well, there are a few fantastic ways to get through that without too much pain.
First, you could practice speaking by creating YouTube videos. In addition to being a great marketing tool for your business, they are a platform for you to speak about your expertise without anyone immediately judging you.
That's how Gary Vaynerchuk got his start.
Watch videos of other prolific speakers, and see what they do. Check out their live performances to see how they structure their presentation. Make note of techniques they implement to get the audience involved (which I'll discuss in a moment).
When you feel ready, post your videos online for the world to see. You'll not only start to become more confident in your skills, but you'll get feedback without actually having to speak directly in public.
Your business will improve by doing this, too.
If you are feeling a bit more daring, there is a wonderful group called Toastmasters International. It's a “non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.” For 90 years, they have helped people gain confidence in front of an audience.
You have to pay dues, but you get to meet once a week, give or take, and practice speaking. It might be tricky to talk in front of others, but you will be with a group of people who have the same fears; they understand exactly how you feel.
You'll get to learn first-hand the importance of flow in speech; How to incorporate rise and fall – bringing the speech to high levels, then down low to maintain people's attention; How to use variety to maximize your audience's interest.
All while having a chance to try it out in a supportive environment with no pressure.
By putting yourself out there just a little bit, you will gain insight and knowledge that no book or course could ever teach you. Practice and go outside of your comfort zone, and you will be well rewarded.
What Your Audience Wants to Know
By now, you know inside-and-out what your prospects are looking for.
You know their hopes and dreams, their fears, frustrations and problems, and their wants and needs. You know how your service can help them. And that they can always rely on you to give them what they are looking for.
But what about a brand new audience you are about to speak to?
Chances are, when you start out as a speaker, you will be talking to an audience mostly filled with people who don't know you very well. They might be interested in your business, or in the theme of the event itself, but you are starting with a blank slate.
And they're going to have some very specific questions:
- Who Are You? This is probably the easiest one to answer; tell them all about yourself. The good and the bad. This will be your best chance to break the ice.
- How Can You Help Them? This requires the same kind of research as you do for your prospects. Find out who is in the audience, what they do for a living, and why they are there. By knowing that, you can connect your expertise to their needs and create immediate interest in what you have to say.
- Why Can They Trust You? You'll have to share your credentials and experience before you launch into giving advice. People need to know you are a valid source of information.
- How Did You Get Here? They want to know your “back story”. Were you always in your field? Or did you come from another field before you started doing this? What big challenges did you face on your way up? What mistake did you make that was a major lesson for you? You never know what factor of your background might resonate with the audience.
- What Do You Have in Common? Again, this is where your research comes in. What about you is similar to your audience? There is most definitely something about you, or an element from your past, that relates. Make sure to bring it up!
You might have noticed a common thread with all of these questions, aside from making sure to research your audience:
The fact that everyone loves a good story.
When you are talking about yourself, no one wants to hear a laundry list of your accomplishments. They can ask for a resume if they really want it.
You want to talk about yourself in a conversational way that makes you relatable to your audience. It would be even better if your story related to a pain they are all experiencing (which is perhaps why they are at the event!)
And a great way to engage your audience from the start is to ask a question. For example, if you are a relationship coach you might ask, “How many of you here have gone through a nasty breakup?” There's a good chance that 90% of your audience will raise their hand!
This opens up a fantastic opportunity to talk about a break-up of your own. Perhaps the breakup that launched your career? (Answering “How Did You Get Here?” and building trust all at once.)
When preparing your presentation, be sure to think about these five questions. When you do, you will be so relatable and interesting, people will pay attention from the start, and hang on every word you say.
The Most Important Element (aside from storytelling)
If you think back to a great speech you have seen, or a speaker you like, what do you think of? I think of someone who is relatable, tells good stories, gives useful and timely advice, and just seems to understand me.
However, what always gets me (and everyone else) really into a speaker is an element that all of the best personalities have: humor.
Now, I'm not implying that you need to go take a stand-up comedy class. Nor do you need to be a “jokester” with the crowd to have any hope of connecting to them.
But what really breaks the ice in a crowd and loosens them up is a good laugh.
I'm sure many things have happened to you in your life that have made you laugh. Even in the deepest tragedies, we always manage to find humor, because it helps us cope with reality.
So naturally, getting people to chuckle along with a crazy fact about your past, a funny or obvious question, or perhaps even something that happened on the way to the event, would loosen up the crowd.
There is a very popular young adult fiction novel circulating around in America called “The Fault In Our Stars.” I believe they are even making a movie out of it.
The plot of this book is a love story between two children who are suffering through different types of cancer. From page one it is expected that they will pass away at a very young age.
Pretty heavy, right?
Wrong. The book is one of the funniest books I have read in a long while. It also is sad, poignant, uplifting, startling, and so on…
Most of the best things we experience have a sense of humor to them. This not only allows us to lower our defenses and accept what people are telling us, but it also opens us up to experiencing higher highs and lower lows.
While I don't recommend writing jokes if you have no experience, seriously take the time to think about some humorous things that have happened in your past that relate directly to your Expertpreneur™ business now. You'll be surprised to see how quickly you'll draw people in.
Take a Leap of Faith
Speaking is a very personal experience, and it takes courage to do it.
But, think about the payoff: you will connect to an audience better than you ever could through the internet, you will become more confident in your skills and your business, and you will directly affect people's lives.
Sounds worth the struggle, doesn't it?
Even if you do suffer from glossophobia, try to find ways to slowly wean yourself into public speaking. And do not be afraid to speak to a professional if your fear is crippling; it is absolutely worth your while.
If after reading this you're ready to hit the ground running, then start looking up events in your area and get out there! Your business will improve like never before. And your confidence will grow every time you do.