Being an entrepreneur is all about building a company you can be proud of. What most people don’t realize is that you’ll need to master at least some parts of public speaking to be successful at it.
You may not always be speaking to an auditorium of thousands, although if you’re successful, you might be invited to do just that! However, most of the time your public speaking will be in smaller groups. It could be to potential investors, current employees, local governments, or a charity you’re involved with.
Mastering at least some tools of the trade is essential. Here are 12 public speaking fundamentals entrepreneurs must master.
Public speaking isn’t just about the words that you say, or the visuals you show. It’s about you as a person. You need to look and dress appropriately. Your look is all part of the show, and needs to instill confidence in what you’re saying.
This doesn’t always mean a shirt and tie though. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are two great examples of people who dress down for work. This won’t work for most executives, so dress appropriately.
Learn Proper Pacing
New public speakers will often rush through their presentations. They’ll be overly excited, or try to cover too much. They’ll also not give appropriate breathing room and pauses for the audience to digest the material.
Learning pacing can help the audience understand what you’re saying. It will give ideas and concepts time to sink in before you move on. It’s about communicating effectively, and talking too quickly will make you difficult to understand and not let the audience absorb the material.
Avoid Um’s and Ah’s
Filler words are a crutch. They can make your presentation painful to sit though. They’re used when thinking, or as a default word you may not realize you’re saying. Speaking carefully and thoughtfully will help you avoid these words. Proper preparation will help you stay focused and not rely on thinking words.
Make Eye Contact
When you look someone in the eye, they feel more connected to what you’re saying, and they’ll be more engaged overall. Being in a room and making eye contact is what makes public speaking more powerful than just showing a video. It personalizes it.
Interact with the Audience
Much like eye contact, audience interaction will engage people. This doesn’t mean doing a Q&A, it could just mean using audience members as examples, or asking people to raise their hand who’ve had such-and-such a problem before.
Don’t worry too much about individually involving people, just try to get the audience as a whole to react. When you ask people to raise their hands, even those that don’t are still participating. They’re just doing it by keeping their hand down – but they’re still answering the question.
Make Use of Gestures
There are tons of hand gestures you should be using when public speaking. Use your hands to emphasize points, the size of things, or to exclaim something. Public speaking is just as much about theatre as it is about the words you’re saying.
Many people talk with their hands already, you’re just going to over emphasize this aspect when in a crowd. Point to the presentation where required, raise your hand when looking for affirmation, and use your arms to reference the audience when you need to.
Preparation is the number one thing you can do to perform well at public speaking. We already talked about how it can help you avoid filler words, but it can help you avoid really embarrassing “brain farts”.
Don’t memorize your speech word for word. Just make sure you know your material. You don’t want to sound stiff, but you don’t want to sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Practice, practice, practice. It’s the best way to nail any public speaking you need to do.
Tell a Story
It’s one thing to talk about the debt college students are piling up. It’s another thing if you tell the story of Jessica, and recent college grad who works 3 jobs just to keep up with payments. One is a fact, the other is the story of how that fact affects real people.
Use stories whenever possible. They’re more engaging. If you’re not great at storytelling find someone who is. Use a service like Ghost Professors to help you write a compelling story.
You’re probably thinking about a PowerPoint presentation when you read visuals. Sure, that’s one example. You can also use props, other people, examples of products, etc. It doesn’t need to be just you and a microphone. Illustrate your point with visuals.
Bullet Points Are Dead
If you do go the PowerPoint route, don’t just slap bullet points on slides. You should be talking about the material and using the slides to emphasize your points – not to regurgitate them.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know there are many important steps to starting a business. One of them is not get overly emotional in business. Emotions can lead to making decisions that you wouldn’t otherwise make.
The complete opposite is true for public speaking, so you’ll want to turn off your entrepreneurial inclination to cut all emotion out. You want the audience to be connected to what you’re saying, and become invested emotionally. Use your passion to illustrate happiness, sadness, fear and anxiety to help with your storytelling and the audience will be more engaged.
Getting too complex because you think it makes you sound smart will just make you look pompous, and probably cause the audience to miss the point. Use everyday words, and only yank out the thesaurus when needed.
Remember, public speaking is no different than telling a story to a friend in a pub. You’re just trying to engage them and have them understand what you’re saying.
If you’re an entrepreneur that really wants to be successful, work on your public speaking. It can do wonders for your success. Communication is key at any company, and those that are looking to buy or invest in your product are more likely to jump on board if you can properly communicate why they should.