Last week I went to the 10th anniversary dinner of the Toastmasters club that I joined about eight years ago. I first went along to the group because I was rather shy about speaking in public – yes really! A very well meaning business colleague suggested that I should join the club and I’m really glad I did. Why? Because speaking in public is one of the best ways in which I can promote my business. Eight years ago, I couldn’t stand up in front of an audience for more than a minute and when I tried, I would fidget and stumble over my words and um … and ahh … a lot! During the two years that I was a member I learnt how to speak clearly and confidently; I learnt how to structure talks and how to deal with my nerves (which I still get, even now.) All this is currently allowing me to tour the country from Bath to St Albans and all points in between, sharing my ideas with interested audiences and finding great new clients in the process. As a result of one talk I gave recently, I’ve been offered project worth over £10,000 next year.
Have you thought about speaking in public, to promote your business? Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you, that might persuade you to do it, or help you do it better.
Make it visual
Whenever I speak to an audience, I like to use a flip chart, onto which I can write key points. I will often ask the audience for their input and I write their answers onto the flip chart. This helps the audience to better take in what you’re saying, because while some people are auditory (learning more from listening), there will be others who are more visual. For them, visual prompts are more helpful.
Not all venues can provide a flip chart, so I always take Plan B with me. This is a set of ‘flash cards’ – A4 sheets with key words and phrases written on them in large letters. Having them with me means that if, for any reason, the flip chart isn’t available, or it breaks half way through the talk (I’ve had that happen before!) I can carry on. Flash cards work as really good prompts too, reminding me of the next section of the talk.
Of all the talks I’ve given at networking meetings, the ones that seem to go down the best are the ones when I open up a bit. Sharing the highs and lows of your life or your business really helps people to connect with you. It helps your audience to see who you really are. Some people might not like who they see; but others will love who they see and they’re your ideal clients or referrers.
But keep it business
If you’re speaking to promote your business, then tell your audience something about what you do (without making it a sales pitch!) I’ve listened to some fascinating talks from which I’ve come away knowing nothing about the business that the speaker runs or how they can help my business. While you need to include some personal information, don’t let it take over. I would not give a talk about riding horses at a networking meeting; but I do have a talk about the similarities of training for a marathon and effective marketing!
Get some help
If you’re thinking about speaking at a networking meeting and you’ve never done it before, or you’re really nervous, just look for your local Toastmasters group. Our new Apprentice, Dale, is going to start going to the Newbury group and I can’t wait to see how he develops.
Get out there
If you’re thinking about speaking to promote your business, then just get out there and give it a go! Share your ideas and your passion with your audiences and you’ll find it a great way to spread the word about what you do.
Have fun! And let me know where you’re speaking, so I can come to listen and cheer you on!