Build Your Business and Credibility
through Public Speaking
By Patricia Fripp
Would you like to sell to 40 prospects at the same time? Well, step
up to the microphone. Service organizations like Kiwanis Clubs,
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:
We've all heard that the fear of death is often surpassed by the
fear of public speaking. Think about the positive results of
delivering a presentation and that might motivate you to work
through your fears. In case that isn't enough, take time to work
through these exercises to help you channel all that nervousness
Physical preparation: warm up and relax your body and
If you're wearing high heels take them off. Now, 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 one. Now, switch legs and
shake. You want your energy to go through the floor and out of your
head. This sounds quite cosmic; it isn't. It's a practical technique
used by actors.
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.
Warm up your face muscles by chewing in a highly exaggerated way. Do
shoulder and neck rolls. Imagine that 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
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.
Opening a speech with a joke or funny story is the conventional
wisdom. Before you do, ask yourself these questions:
Is it appropriate to the occasion, for the audience?
Is it in good taste?
Does it relate to me (my product or service) or the event or
the group? Does it support your topic or its key points?
humorous story, an inspirational vignette, which 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
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 at a cocktail reception or professional society
meeting. Well, put the answers to those questions in your speech.
scientist with Genentech was preparing a speech for a woman’s group.
Since most of the audience didn't know what scientists are like or
what they do, he told them what it was like to be a scientist.
“Being a scientist is like doing a jigsaw puzzle in a snowstorm at
night...you don't have all the pieces...and you don't have the
picture to work from.” You can say more with less.
The close should be one of the highlights of your speech. Summarize
the key elements to your presentation; i.e. overview of the local
real estate market, your investment process, the value of a home’s
preventative maintenance, etc. 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.
The Genentech scientist told of the frustrations of being a
scientist and he closed by saying, "People often ask, 'why should
anyone want to be a scientist?'" His closing story told of a
particularly information-intensive medical conference he attended.
The final speaker of the day opened with, "I am a 32-year-old wife
and mother of two. I have AIDS. Please work fast," she said to the
scientists. He got a standing ovation for the speech.
Outline For Your Speech:
There are two basic outlines that work well for the beginning
"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 the topic you've chosen.
Recently, a friend asked that I help her with a talk she had asked
to present. I asked three vital questions you must also ask
yourself: Who is the group to whom you are speaking? How long will
your talk be? Why have they asked you to speak?
friend had been asked to do a 25-minute speech for the local Board
of Realtors because of her great success in real estate. I suggested
she follow the Then-Now-How outline and open like this: "Twelve
years ago, when I went into the real estate business, I had never
sold anything but Girl Scout cookies and hadn't done well with that.
Last year, I sold $50 million of real estate in a slow market
selling homes that averaged $150,000 each. In the next 30 minutes
you will learn exactly how I did that...and how you can too!"
The question and answer format:
People in your audience are like the people you meet in your
business or at a cocktail party -- they probably all ask you many of
the same questions about your work. Think of the questions
prospects, clients and friends ask you about your business.
Now you can open with, "The five questions I am most frequently
asked about investments (or whatever your field is) are…." Pose the
first question to the audience and answer it for them in a
conversational manner...just like you would to a prospective
customer. You may have never given a speech before, but you
certainly have answered the questions.
Writing Your Speech:
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 note pad with you
and jot down ideas, situations that relate to your talk. When you
actually write your talk, you'll have lots of material to fit into
Presenting The Speech:
not read your speech. Write key points in bold felt tip pen on a pad
you keep on the lectern or table. (Or in a large, bold typeface in
your Word document.) 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.
Write your own introduction. Use your resume as a guide, but
customize it to fit the topic on which you're speaking. Do not
include your job as a lifeguard in your intro unless it directly
relates to your subject. 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?
Develop a page detailing your key points. Or
if you've had an article published, make copies for the audience
members. Make sure that the handout includes your name, address,
telephone number, email and Web address.
If your goal is to develop business contacts, always collect
business cards from the 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 -- a free evaluation of financial status, etc.) and ask
that everyone drop their business cards in a box from which you or
the program chair will draw the winner (or winners) at the end of
The business cards give you prospects with whom you can follow up
later. If you offer to provide attendees with written material, you
might include an order blank for you product or service.
Just Do It!
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
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