This may be a moment of dread for everyone, including an entrepreneur and small business owner: Public speaking. Standing in front of a crowd to talk can be nerve-wracking, sweat-inducing and heart-stopping, and those who struggle doing so often find it challenging to get better at all.
However, there are solutions. Even though speaking in public is something that most people hate, they find a way to get through it and deliver an effective address. And, most importantly, this is critical for a person who wants to be in a position of leadership. Quality managers can't succeed unless they can perform well, and that could lead into monetary aspects, like a financial plan.
So, instead of gambling on stage, here are six useful public speaking tips for any small business owner:
1. Don't try to do too much
Simplicity reins supreme, according to Zach Holman, a developer at GitHub and founder of speaking.io. He explained his tips for better public speaking to Jill Krasny, contributor to Inc. magazine. Holman stated that a good speech should condense the key points so it is easier for an audience to follow along. Small groupings, minimal talking and interesting bullet points will keep viewers engaged for longer.
2. Try to tell a story
Effective speakers tell stories, Holman noted. While the subject matter can be academic, it has to be entertaining at the same time. That is why the speech has to be interesting from start to finish, and the key points can be spread throughout to retain the audience's attention. In order to tell if it is working, small business owners should do a dry run and even videotape themselves to see how it looks and sounds.
3. Use repetition to drive a point home
Repetition is a powerful storytelling tool, according to Holman. Quality speakers use this to great effect, because bringing back the main point throughout the speech will make it stand out more.
"Repetition is one of the things that make humans good storytellers," he told Krasny. "My favorite comics will tell a joke at the start, then they'll go back to it and modify it as they go on. It's very powerful for the audience to follow what you're trying to say."
4. Don't fall in love with Powerpoint
For novice public speakers, Powerpoint may seem like a saving grace. However, it isn't. Susan Tardanico, contributor to Forbes, wrote that audiences hate this tool, because most people misuse it and try to cram too much in. A speech should hold the audience's attention, not drive them to boredom. Slides can only be used once in a while, and they have to be simple, compelling and attractive. They can't be full of 100 bullet points, with tiny text and crowded images. This won't work.
5. Go into it with a clear goal
What is the intended result of this speech? The answer to this question can make the task a lot easier for small business owners. Is it to explain a business banking strategy? Or discuss the last quarter's growth? Regardless, understanding what the end of the speech should be first will help with an outline. An address that is meant to inspire people won't be written in the same way as one that is meant to persuade, and understanding the differences will help the speaker to stay focused and level-headed throughout the process.
6. Reach out to the audience
Tardanico explained that public speakers should connect with the audience. There is no need to prove they are smart, and it is better to be on the same level as the people in the crowd. Trying to impress can lead things astray, so instead, bridge the gap and talk as equals. A humorous, down-to-earth speech will often go over better, and this will also help the audience stay connected for a longer period of time.