Public speaking offers a number of business-related benefits. For starters, it gives you more visibility, helping you get your brand out there and in front of your target market. At the same time, it establishes you as an expert in your field, making you someone the listeners feel they can trust when it comes to your suggestions about the products and services you offer.
Speaking in public also helps your consumer base get to know and like you, essentially giving your company a face that they feel more comfortable with…kind of like an old friend. This is crucial in this day and age when thousands of businesses are competing for their attention daily.
Finally, speaking has personal benefits too. It gives you more confidence, it teaches you how to speak clearly and concisely, and you also learn a thing or two about how to connect with your audience, which is critical when it comes to being a business leader and constantly having to network with others.
So what can you do to get more practice, honing this one skill for the benefit of you and your business? There are a few options to consider.
Join Your Local Toastmasters
This is my number one suggestion because joining Toastmasters gives you the opportunity to speak quite regularly. For instance, the Toastmasters group I belong to, City Speech Toastmasters, meets once a week. And while I don’t speak at every meeting, I do get the chance to get in front of the group at a lot of them. This enables me to continuously practice my public speaking skills, making me a better and better speaker as time goes on.
There are Toastmasters groups all around the world, so all you have to do is find one that is closest to you or the most convenient to attend. Not only will this help you enhance your public speaking skills, but you’ll make some great networking connections too!
Talk to Your Chamber of Commerce
Most areas have a local Chamber of Commerce, which is an association designed to help businesses in the community get bigger and better. And if you check with your chamber, you’ll likely learn that they regularly schedule events—events which require them to bring in speakers.
Why not make contact with them and offer your services? Depending on what they’re looking for, they may want you to talk about what you’ve done to succeed in business, how you’ve grown your company from the ground up, or any other topic that could help other business owners in the area. Agree to do it for free and how could they say no?
(If you’re not sure where your local chamber is, you can find it by visiting ChamberofCommerce.com.)
Mention Speaking to Your Network Connections
With all of the clubs, organizations, and associations that exist in your area, it’s likely that you know someone who belongs to one or more of them. That makes this person a good one to talk to if you want to get out there and speak at some of their meetings and events.
Most have little to no budget, so they’re not able to bring in big speakers. This makes you the perfect person for the job because you’ll get the practice you want and they’ll get a free speaker. It’s a win/win situation.
Put It Out on Social Media
Another option is to share your desire to speak on your social media pages. Let your followers know that you’re available to talk to their groups and you might get some that take you up on your offer!
If you choose to take this route, just be sure to include contact information so they know how to get in touch with you. Also, if you have any parameters, such as geographical boundaries, be sure to mention those too so you’re not bombarded with a lot of speaking requests that you ultimately have to turn down.
Put Your Profile on a Speaking Site
There are several different websites, like Speaker Match and Speaker Sponsor, which companies can visit in order to find a speaker for an upcoming event. Get listed on these sites and there is a chance that someone will contact you to come and talk to their group.
The one thing to keep in mind if you take this route is that you’re competing against thousands of other speakers when you’re listed on a site like this. Therefore, you’ll probably want to try the other options at the same time, and not sit and wait to see if anyone calls or emails.
Be Sure to Practice at Home Too
Of course, there’s always the option of simply practicing speaking at home in front of your computer or any other device that enables you to record yourself talking. This way, you can see what you’re doing and make any modifications to your speech and nonverbal actions without being in front of a group.
You should be doing this anyway if you’re speaking because delivering a good (or even a great) speech requires a ton of practice. In fact, I once heard that you should be practicing one hour for every minute that you’ll be speaking. So keep that in mind when preparing for your next speaking event…no matter where it may be.
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!