We all have our strengths and weaknesses. While I’d like to consider writing as one of my strengths, I know that cooking is definitely not one of them—ask anyone. Some people in marketing may think their strengths lie in their marketing skills, but would readily admit sales skills fall into their weakness category. Why? Most likely they do not like public speaking.
But the truth is, from content marketers to consultants and vice presidents to CEOs, everyone should be selling services on some level to keep the agency profitable, even if it is simply selling the company image. So if public speaking isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. Whether you are meeting with a handful of clients or presenting to an entire organization, just breathe deep and follow these tips. And sure, you can imagine everyone in their underwear if you’d like, but, personally, I find it distracting.
- Discipline Your Bad Habits: Chances are you commit at least one of the public speaking sins such as “um,” ending every sentence with “so” or fidgeting. Get rid of the habit starting now. Ask a friend to raise attention every time you start umming in conversation, or envision a period (or a punctuation mark of some kind) at the end of every sentence you say, so there is no way the word “so” could possibly slip out after it. Use a tape recorder to find out how many times you slip. If fidgeting is your offense, test yourself: Stand in front a room of friends or colleagues (or a video camera) for 30 seconds without fidgeting. Start over every time you move. Once you have accomplished that, up the time to two minutes and so on until you reach a length you could comfortably present to clients during.
- Prep for Success: Show up at least a few minutes early to make sure all of the equipment you will need is available and functioning. Be sure to dress and look like an inbound marketing professional. If it is at all possible, bring printouts for everyone in attendance that include bullet points and any pertinent information.
- Make Your Audience Believe You: You must believe in what you are saying if you want potential clients to buy into it. Speak with confidence and conviction. Talk slowly and enunciate clearly without reading from your notes (although you can glance at them every now and then). Try to establish a rapport with the other professional in the room. You should look confident, relaxed and approachable, even if you are nervous; hold your head high and make eye contact. Don’t mumble. And if you make a mistake, simply correct yourself and move on—do not apologize more than once.
- Keep Eye Contact Without Being Awkward: Keep your clients and colleagues engaged by using eye contact. Just don’t let it linger for more than three seconds; move on to someone else. Try to connect with each person in the room, if possible.
- Be Sure to Listen: Try to get a feel for your audience’s understanding of your point. If they are not getting it or totally disagree, you may need to change your strategy.
- Be Entertaining Without Being a Clown: This can be difficult for many people. You certainly do not want to bore your audience, but you don’t want to cross the line to unprofessional, especially in front of clients. Test the waters, and, if appropriate, inject a little humor or tell an interesting story. You can also use images, videos or questions to safely keep your listeners intrigued.
- Know When to Stop Talking: This may be the toughest task of all. When there is silence, humans tend to feel the need to ramble on. Don’t! End with a solid, well-thought-out point. Then leave the silence for others to digest what you’ve suggested. And whatever you do, don’t belittle yourself by saying, “It’s probably a dumb idea anyway.”
After practicing these tips and putting them into effect, you should feel at ease with your public speaking skills, allowing you the ability to step forward to represent your company to sell, sell, sell.
What are your best public speaking tips? Please share them in the comment section below!