My friends laugh at me all the time because I am now speaking at events all over the place – from local networking events to larger conferences, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to share what I know and to share the LKE brand. The reason they laugh at me is because they know how much I feared it. Just two years ago, I was telling people that I would NEVER speak in public. I’ll never be on video. I was self conscious and, most importantly, I didn’t feel like I knew enough to educate others. But all that changed about 2 years ago. We were hosting an event (I won’t tell you which one!) and someone approached me with a camera and asked to interview me. I froze, but it was hard to say no so I stumbled my way through. Later, I watched the footage and realized why I needed to get over my fear.
Bad public speaking discredits your brand and loses opportunities.
When you watch someone who is obviously nervous talking about a particular topic or their company, do you want to hire them? Do you believe that they really are amazing? You see, the challenge is that so many people want a relationship with their vendors. They want to feel comfortable with you. The other truth is that people make the deepest connection face-to-face. The closest alternative to F2F is video. Your best chance to make a connection with a new client – or to solidify your reputation with existing ones – is to OWN public speaking.
Rock it out. Kick it’s ass. However you say it, you’ve got to get better. Here are a few things I’ve done to start feeling more confident:
- Listen to what others tell you about yourself. Stop judging yourself and your limited knowledge, but believe people when they say that they are learning from you. Listen to what they find most interesting, important and relevant and focus on those things for your confidence.
- Don’t picture everyone in their underwear. I don’t know who came up with that idea, but I’m not a fan. Instead – picture everyone as humans. I picture my friends in the room – genuinely wanting to hear about a new topic. My best friends don’t judge me if I make a mistake, they understand if I don’t know something off the top of my head, and they are grateful for the things they learn.
- Accept the unexpected. There will ALWAYS be someone in the room who doesn’t like what you say, how you say it, or who you are. That’s just how it goes. But the truth is – that’s the same in everything else you do in your life too. Be flexible. If the AV breaks down or the group isn’t as large/small as you thought, focus on the content and be flexible with everything else.
- Especially with video, remember that this is a great opportunity to appear strong, confident and intelligent. Speaking clearly to relay important and relevant information is a key to securing new business in the future.
With these things in mind, you can weather the oddest speaking gigs. And – it’s true – the more you do it, the better you get. You learn what people like to hear and what bores them. You also learn a lot about yourself and you can start setting parameters to set yourself up for success. Before you know it, you’ll be in LA, Wisconsin, New Orleans, Chicago, Mumbai, Australia and more – talking your head off and making a ton of great connections.