The ability to speak confidently in public is an important skill for everyone in business. Whether delivering a presentation, networking, or making a sales pitch, the impact we have on our audience makes the difference between success and failure. In particular, small businesses rely on presentation skills to boost business growth, whether that’s talking one to one to clients or presenting to groups – it’s what makes us different to the next guy. It’s the way we connect and the way we sell.
Fear of public speaking is well known. How do you feel standing in front of a large audience? You might expect to be experiencing a range of stress reactions … increased heart rate, dry mouth, or worst case scenario the brain going in to shut down to allow the flight or fight response. Research indicates that a significant factor is a fear of people making a judgement about us based on our presentation. The more we believe we will be judge unfavourably the greater our stress reaction will be. So many of us either avoid public speaking all together or feel varying degrees of fear when we stand in front of an audience.
What the benefits are to you and your business in speaking up with greater confidence?
- promoting your business by taking up guest speaking slots
- confidently delivering that all important speech or sales pitch
- communicating with confidence at networking events
Is it possible to attribute a financial benefit to this? What are you losing by not promoting your business, by letting nerves get in the way of delivering a powerful sales pitch, by not speaking up with confidence at networking events?
Confident, skilled presenters are not born, they are made and it takes a lot of practice; the right kind of practice. As with any skill development, practice has to be purposeful. There is no short cut to being a proficient and confident public speaker. Some people may appear on the surface to be natural public speakers but they will have been exposed to great mentors, the right kind of feedback and to plenty of practice. Others have to create these conditions for themselves and that can be challenging. How do you start to practice so that you can build up more confidence?
Casterbridge Speakers is based in Dorchester and is affiliated to Toastmasters International. We meet on the 1st & 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Wessex Royal Hotel in Dorchester between 7.15 – 9.30pm.
If you are in the group that avoids public speaking at all costs, as a member you will get the opportunity to practice in a relaxed and friendly environment; you will be with others who understand how you are feeling; and you will get a real sense of learning together.
If you are in the group that knows they could do it better, as a member you will get targeted feedback and be able to practice those elements that you know are weaknesses, you will get mentoring support and you will enjoy the process of learning with others.
If you are in the group that already thinks you are great at it, as a member you will get honest feedback and recommendations about how to be even better and you will have the opportunity to enter national and international competitions to prove just how good you are!
Don’t let the fear of public speaking negatively impact either your business or your personal life. You can with purposeful practice learn to control those unhelpful stress reactions, those shaking hands, those sweaty palms, that loudly beating heart. You can with purposeful practice prepare and deliver a professional speech and you can with purposeful practice connect in a meaningful way with your audience.
To find out more about becoming a member visit our website and come along as a guest.
Caroline Brewer, Casterbridge Speakers President