5 Tips to Improve Public Speaking As a Small Business Owner

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By Kimberly Stevens, NPI Marketing Coach

“I have three hints for becoming a good public speaker. You must know when to stand up, when to speak up and when to shut up.” – Charlie Brown

Wouldn’t it be great if Charlie Brown’s three tips above were all we needed to become more confident public speakers? It takes time and perseverance to perfect the art, but I’ve put together a few pointers to get you started. Follow this simple guide to overcome fear, improve your ability to speak in front of a crowd and nail your next networking event.

First, let’s consider the benefits of public speaking. Motivation is key when it comes to speaking in front of a crowd, and rest-assured, the reward is great. Public speaking can allow you to build relationships with your audience and be seen as an expert on the subject you are sharing. You can make a lasting impression with this type of face to face interaction, creating trust that is invaluable in personal and business relationships. Becoming even an average speaker can have a great and direct impact on your influence with others and overall business growth.

Second, to help reduce the fear that comes with public speaking, stick to these four simple steps:

A. Prepare well. Spend an hour preparing for every 5 minutes you are going to speak.
B. Keep your focus on your audience and not yourself.
C. Write your presentation, speak it out loud and rewrite it again and again until it flows naturally.
D. Practice by videoing yourself with your phone, evaluate and reevaluate until you’re comfortable.

People often obsess over every word when they speak publicly, and that brings us to my third point: what you communicate often has little to do with what you say. In fact, we tend to focus most on what a speaker doesn’t say, gathering 55% of our information from body language and 38% from their tone of voice. The words themselves account for the last 7%.

While what we say is important, how we say it is far more important. Practicing what we are going to say out loud over and over again and watching how we look on video while saying it is far better preparation than reading the material silently to ourselves.

Fourth, now that we know body language makes up for 55% of what people take away from our speech, these few tips will prove helpful:

A. Stand up straight with shoulders back and feet shoulder width apart. This is called a “president stance.”

B. Keep your arms comfortably by your sides but loose and bend elbows at the waist
C. Hands meet just below waist (don’t grasp hands), use hands and arms comfortably when speaking.
D. Walk and move comfortably, to be open to your audience, don’t stand stiff behind a podium.

Lastly, tone of voice makes up 38% of what is communicated to the audience. Here are a few tips for a great voice tone:

A. Speed of delivery is key; speaking too fast or too slow can be distracting to an audience.
B. Use passion and emotions with your face and voice to come across as genuine and likeable.
C. Volume is very important in public speaking. Speak loudly enough so the audience can hear, but don’t shout.

With time and practice, public speaking is a skill that each of us can learn and improve. The journey is well worth it.

“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but what the listener receives.” – Lilly Waters

What do you want your listener to receive?

Bio: As a certified marketing coach and trainer for National Property Inspections, Inc., Kimberly helps franchise owners develop and carry out their marketing plans so they can achieve their goals. Her greatest reward is to see our NPI family succeed and thrive.

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