For new entrepreneurs, the thought of speaking infront of a crowd is rather nerve-wracking than exciting but public speaking or the capacity to do so is part of what makes an entrepreneur successful so you can’t just simply avoid it for one way or another, you will at some point speak in front of a crowd.
So, imagine yourself, sitting / or standing anxiously, waiting for your name to be called on the platform. If you’ve given speech to a crowd for twenty times or so, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal but if this is your first one or if you only had a couple of speeches under your belt, you may already be nauseated even before your name is called. You clasp your cold hands, clear your throat more times than you normally would and feel your heart pumping as if your blood pressure level rises uncontrollably.
Quite a scary thought, as you could imagine but inevitably, business success requires speaking, whether one on one or to a crowd – this is how some of the world’s best tycoons were built. You sell yourself by speaking!
So, how do you man up infront of a crowd if you’re just getting started?
Well, the simple answer can be summed up in one word – composure.
It’s about training yourself to be composed and confident to speak to whoever and wherever regardless of the number of people in the crowd. It doesn’t matter really whether there’s an audience of five or a thousand.
It’s about Self-Confidence.
Confidence in knowing that you know your stuff. You need not know everything, you just need to know what you’re talking about. Public speaking is like writing, or talking with a friend one on one. It’s about communicating your idea.
Stage fright was invented in elementary school, it’s one of the problems of our school system, where the “bright” are applaused and the average left out and made to feel inferior.
Back in our elementary days, most kids are just so afraid to raise their hands and spill out the answer for fear of being laughed at or scolded for a wrong answer.
As I grew as a person and as an entrepreneur, I figured that there’s really no right or wrong answers in life and that mistakes are a common and often are a good thing.
The fear of failure is what makes everyone fail in the first place. If you don’t try, you can’t win – and winning is simply a result of failing to much, so fail as much as you can and fail fast.
If I knew better when I was in my 20s, I would have taken every opportunity to fail so I learn faster because we learn when we make mistakes and if you’re in your twenties (or younger) right now, I encourage you to try things that will lead you closer to your goals. Trust me, you’ve got nothing to lose!
Public Speaking is a Skill. A Learnable Skill.
Just like walking, public speaking is a skill. If you’ve learned to walk and are now very good at it, chances are, you’ll learn to speak in front of a crowd.
I was raised in a very conservative asian culture – if you’re an asian, you would know what discipline meant to our self-confidence. As a result, I grew into a very shy and timid young person that I couldn’t even go out of the house or speak in front of the class without cold, sweaty hands.
Imagine growing up in a home where, instead of being encouraged, you are discouraged. Where, instead of being told that you can do anything, you are made believe that your aspirations are impossible or are too risky and that you’re better off staying within the norm or what I call the “safe zone”.
This kind of rearing, robbed me off with self-confidence that speaking in front of a class as I was working my way up in the education ladder felt like dying than a triump.
In order to develop one’s self confidence in public speaking, or in speaking with people in general. You have to trace where your fear of speaking or “stage fright” as most would call is coming from. Of course, for most – it’s the lack of self confidence but that lack of isn’t the real answer here.
I guess, the better question to ask yourself is:
“What are the different reasons why you lack self confidence and how do you develop your self confidence?” You will see that most of the reasons that hinders you to speak effectively in front of a crowd roots down from when you were a child. These can all be summed up with the word, FEAR.
Everyone’s afraid of something but then if you come to know and understand the word fear, it means, “false expectations appearing real”. I know, you may think I’m being a little corny here but then that’s just it.
Remember that day, when you first tried to approached a girl to ask what her name was or the time when you were ‘manning up’ to ask a girl out on a date? Fear may have stopped you – you may have froze on the sidelines, thinking that you’ll get rejected thinking that to yourself that ‘she may not like me‘.
Well, fact of the matter is, yes, she may not like you but on the opposite side of the tunnel, what if she liked you too and you never made that move? And even if she wasn’t attracted to you at first, if you made your move, you’re one step further to gaining her trust and making her attracted to you.
Public speaking is like that. People won’t know what value you have for them unless you start opening your mouth and the very reason why you’re in front of them is the fact that you may know something that can benefit most of them, so fear not! For you know something that your audience may even pay you for but whether you’re speaking for free or you’re working toward a career in public speaking, you have to man up, build up your self confidence and starting talking.
Going back to the dating example above, let me ask you this. How many girls have you approached in the past before you gained confidence in the field? or to choose another example, how many times did you practice driving before driving became “second nature”? Here’s another one… depending on how old you are right now, you may have forgotten this already but I think it’s worth giving a shot at: How many times did you fall when you were learning how to walk?
Public Speaking Is A Skill
Just like walking (or driving), public speaking or speaking in front of a crowd is a skill. If you only spoke in front of a crowd in one or two occassions, that doesn’t cut it. That’s why you have to stop kicking yourself in the head if your last speach was unsatisfactory.
If you really want to be good (or great) at it, you have to speak more – you have to practice. Practice. It’s the name of the game!
As an entrepreneur, you may think that practicing in front of a mirror is a waste of time and that’s actually true. Here’s why…
If this is the first time that you’re speaking in front of a crowd, it may probably be a good idea but then it isn’t as effective as speaking in front of an actual audience, simply because the mirror isn’t your audience.
Practicing and developing a public speaking skill takes more than speaking in front of the mirror. So how do you effectively develop your public speaking skill? Start speaking in front of a crowd! Crazy, right? but it works!
But before you do just that… here’s one important arsenal that you should be taking with you on the field: You have to know and be confident of the fact that you know what you’re talking about. If you know what you’re talking about and are confident of this fact – public speaking is like a walk in the park. Yes, even if you’re not used to it (yet).
How to Speak More and Build Confidence
Of course, you don’t have to speak to large crowd right away. Start speaking in front of a couple of people, say an audience of five for example. Five is a magic number that in a sense you won’t consider it a crowd which is less intimidating than when you have 8 or 10 people in the room. Also, while it isn’t too many, it develops the courage having the feel of speaking in front of an audience.
If you’re just starting out in business and you’re not yet a compelling public speaker, chances are you won’t have a lot of opportunities to speak in front of a crowd, to practice and gain experience in the public speaking field, you have to proactively find these opportunities and there are easy ways to find a constant source of audience and you may even get paid for it.
Join A Toastmasters Group
Depending on where you are located. A Toastmasters group may be available in your area. Toastmasters is an international, non-profit public speaking and leadership development club with more than 300,000 members in 135 countries. Being part of a toastmasters group, you will benefit from regular club meetings where you will have a chance to speak about a prepared presentation or an impromptu speech. Constructive evaluation is the true value of being part of a toastmasters group that will help you further your public speaking and personal development skills. You will also benefit in observing other members speak and have a chance to give feed backs on other members’ presentations. To find out whether or not a toasmasters group is available in your area, just bring up Google and enter “toastmasters” in the search field. If you can’t find one, try “toastmasters” + “your town or city” or simply go to http://www.toastmasters.org/ and click the “Find a Club” tab, key in your location and hit enter. Toastmasters is a paid communication and leadership development club, membership rates and schedules may vary per location.
Teaching is a great way to learn and is a confidence booster. You don’t need to apply for a full-time teaching position and you don’t need to teach at an academic school. Simply find an audience (students) who are interested on what you are passionate about – a topic you feel you are an expert at. This will most-likely be related to your business. This will not only improve your presentation and public speaking skills, this may also bring in new customers for your business or you may even get paid to teach on these topics. When teaching, focus on topics that are related to your business, you will find people who are keen to learn about these topics. You may even find a non-profit who may hire you to teach on topics you already know about. You just have to search and ask.
Join A Direct Sales or a Network Marketing Company
When writing this, I knew that some people reading this might get scared or put-off by this third recommendation, thinking that network marketing is a scam. True, a lot of network marketing companies are nothing but pyramid schemes dressed as a network marketing company but to take full advantage of this, one should know how to determine a needle in a haystack.
Not all network marketing companies are scam but to take full advantage of your membership, you have to know that you’re joining the right direct sales company. For one, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re going to make money with them or not, what you’re after for is your personal and public speaking skill development.
So why network marketing?
Compared to traditional businesses, you’re not on your own when you’re getting started in this kind of business – you’re going to have a “mentor” who will (hopefully) take you by the hand in learning and mastering the ropes of your new business enterprise. In short, you will take advantage of free sales presentation trainings. You’ll also have the opportunity to speak in front of ready (and eager) audience as you go along in this kind of business.
At worst, if you never made any money in this venture, you would have gained a new skill that you can use on your future business endeavors – I would call it self confidence. I can write a full article on direct sales or network marketing but for the purpose of this article, I’ll keep this topic short and sweet.
Perhaps, the most important thing that you should be reminded of is the fact that you have to choose the right company, which brings us to the question…
So, how do you choose the right network marketing company to join?
It’s simple, really. Find one that don’t focus too much on recruitment. A truly legitimate network marketing company focuses more on sales than recruitment.
If you’re building a company of your own, would you only focus fully on recruitment or on fully equipping your people to sell for the company?
Here’s the basics: The first money you will ever make in business or any network marketing company is through your own production.
A good network marketing company has a sales process and good products to back it up that will help you sell to your prospects without introducing the business first. You have to sell them the product first, recruitment should be secondary.
Joining a legitimate company is my personal preferrence of course, should you feel that you’re in the wrong company, just focus on why you are there in the first place – take advantage of their training programs to develop your self confidence and your public speaking skills as it will take you far beyond you’ll ever imagine in your entrepreneurial career.