Small business owners are often required to speak in public settings, which can challenge and terrify even the most competent professional. Running a business means you will ultimately come in contact with consumers, potential clients, partners, investors, and the media on a frequent basis, and being a strong, polished speaker is important so you can these interactions successfully. Consider these tips to help you be more at ease in public speaking.
Occasions for Public Speaking
Regardless of the type of business you run, you’ll inevitably need to speak in front of an audience. It may be a slightly less formal setting, such as a staff or project meeting where you speak in front of your employees. These more intimate settings are important, because your employees look up to you as the owner of the company. If you’re just starting your company, meetings with investors require you to prepare presentations and deliver them with confidence to secure funding. There are a variety of other settings where you may need to make public statements, including interviews with the media, meetings with current and potential clients, meetings with vendors, and meetings with partners in your venture.
Before You Speak
Managing your fear of public speaking is entirely possible. It can begin with the simple understanding that your anxiety is probably more than the situation warrants. Most people aren’t masterful public speakers themselves, and probably don’t expect you to be a world-class orator. Embracing your role as a speaker is an important step in helping you relax. Preparation is key. The better you know your subject matter, the more comfortable you’ll be in presenting it. Rehearse your speech at least once in front of an audience, and ask for suggestions for improving it. Just by getting that outside input and incorporating it into your speech, you’ll probably feel more confident in delivering it.
Tips and Tricks for a Successful Speech
Start with measured breathing. Find a rhythm that feels natural and soothing, and do your best to maintain it throughout the speech. This is good trick that helps to counteract your inclination to rush. Speaking too quickly will cause you to become winded, confused, and unfortunately often leads to embarrassing stumbles and mistakes. Be prepared. Have any notes or prompts fully researched and ready. Use conclusions of key points in your speech as an occasion to pause, look at the audience if you’ve been looking down at your notes, and take a breath to collect yourself and your thoughts before moving on. If you’ve practiced these pauses in your rehearsals, that help you instinctively maintain a fluid delivery by naturally hitting on the moments of pause. Don’t overthink things. You know your company and are passionate about it, and talking about it in public shouldn’t be drastically different than talking about it one-on-one with someone you know. Focus on what you’re trying to communicate, and let your practice and passion carry the speech. This is an opportunity to spotlight your company. You can overcome a fear of public speaking by realizing that it’s probably not significantly more challenging for you than it is for most people, by knowing your subject matter thoroughly, rehearsing, and by keeping yourself relaxed and focused.