Would you like to sell to 40 prospects at the same time? Well, step up to the microphone. Service organizations like Kiwanis, Rotary, Lion's or Optimist Clubs are always looking for a speaker to address their group for free. It's a win-win situation; they get a speaker at no charge. You have a terrific promotional tool and, more importantly, are perceived as an expert in your field. Does that sound like a good head start over your competition?
Tips for your talk
Think about the positive results of delivering a presentation, as this may motivate you to work through your fears. Take time to work through these exercises to help you channel any nervousness you may have into energy.
Physical preparation: Warm up and relax your body and face.
a. Stand on one leg and shake the other. When you put your foot back on the ground, it's going to feel lighter than the other. Now, switch legs and shake. You want your energy to go through the floor and out of your head. This technique is often used by actors.
b. Shake your hands, fast. Hold them above your head, bending at the wrist and elbow, and then bring your hands back down. This will make your hand movements more natural.
c. Warm up your face muscles by chewing in a highly exaggerated way. Do shoulder and neck rolls. Imagine you're eye level with a clock. As you look at 12, pull as much of your face up to 12 as you can; now move it to 3, then down to 6 and finally over to 9.
All of these exercises serve to warm you up and relax you. Those exaggerated movements make it easier for your movements to flow more naturally.
Preparation is a key element to making a solid presentation. Here are a few tips that will help you make an effective presentation.
Psychologists have proven that the first and last 30 seconds of any speech have the most impact, so give the open and close of your talk a little extra thought, time and effort. Do not open with "Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here tonight." It's wasting too much of those precious 30 seconds.
A humorous story or inspirational vignette that relate to your topic or audience are sure ways to get an audience's attention. However, it may take more presentation skill than you possess in the beginning. It's safer and more effective to give the audience what you know.
A good way to open your speech is by giving the audience the information they most want to hear. By now, you know the questions you hear most from potential clients, so put the answers to those questions in your speech.
The closing should be one of the highlights of your speech. Summarize key elements of your presentation. If you're going to take questions, say, "Before my closing remarks, are there any questions?" Finish with something inspirational that ties into your theme.
Outline for your speech
There are two basic outlines that work well for the beginning speaker.
Then-now-how outline. "This is where I was. This is where I am. This is how I got here." This outline will help you tell the audience who you are and why you are qualified to speak on your chosen topic.
Ask yourself these three vital questions:
- Who is the group to whom you are speaking?
- How long will your talk be?
- Why have they asked you to speak?
The question-and-answer format. Think of the questions prospects, clients and friends ask you about your business. Pose the first question to the audience and answer it for them in a conversational manner, just like you would to a prospective client. You may have never given a speech before, but you certainly have answered questions.
Writing your speech
I don't believe in sitting down and writing a speech. Instead, gather and collect ideas that can build your speech. If you're going to be addressing a group in the next few weeks, keep a notepad and jot down ideas and situations that relate to your talk. When you actually write your talk, you'll have lots of material to fit into your outline.
Presenting the speech
Do not read your speech; write key points in bold. Unless you rely a lot on your notes, don't stand behind the lectern throughout your entire talk. It puts a barrier between you and the audience and they feel it. However, if you feel more secure standing behind the lectern, do not lean on it.
The introduction: Write your own introduction. Use your resume as a guide, but customize it to fit the topic on which you're speaking. Consider these ideas: How long have you been involved in the community? What makes you an expert? Do you have a connection to the organization?
Handouts: Develop a page detailing your key points. Or if you've had an article published, make copies for audience members. Make sure the handout includes your name, address, telephone number, e-mail and Web address.
Business cards: If your goal is to develop business contacts, always collect business cards from audience members. You can offer to send additional information, articles or tip sheets to them. Or you can offer a door prize (this can be a product you sell or certificate for service) and ask everyone to drop their business cards in a box from which you or the program chair will draw the winner (or winners) at the end of your talk.
The business cards give you prospects with whom you can follow up later.
Speaking before a group of strangers can be intimidating, but keep focused on the positive impact the presentation will have on your business reputation and your bottom line.
Don't expect to be a magnificent speaker the first time out. Your goal is to present the most valuable information possible to the members of the audience. Think of it as the beginning of many long-term relationships.