As an entrepreneur, you’re going to find yourself giving at least a few speeches in your career. You’ll be pitching your business plan to investors, speaking at conferences, talking to clients, and if you’re the next Steve Jobs, you could be giving keynote speeches at your company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Whether you end up giving speeches for millions of people or just for a couple of investors, you need to be comfortable with public speaking. A lot of people struggle with this skill, making it very difficult for them to even start the process of getting funding for their businesses. Fortunately, though, you can learn to be a much better and more comfortable public speaker with just a few simple steps.
FOCUS ON MEMORIZING CONCEPTS OVER MEMORIZING EXACT WORDS
If you’ve ever sat through a speech or address in which the orator was obviously reading their cue cards or teleprompter, then you’re probably thinking that you’ll never make people sit through that kind of painful experience. As a result, you might be tempted to memorize and practice your speech verbatim over and over again. But that can be just as painful for your audience.
Instead of memorizing your speech like you’re reciting something you learned in school, memorize your key points and concepts. Then you can adlib when necessary and change things up depending on your audience. Plus, if you end up giving the same speech more than once, audience members who’ve heard it before won’t be completely bored. And if you’re making a pitch to investors, you won’t be thrown when one of them interrupts you to ask a question. You can just answer the question and move on naturally.
FIND OUT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE
If you’re presenting to a small group of investors, do as much research as you can on each of them. Find out what they’ve invested in before. Learn about their business history and anything that’s public information on LinkedIn and other sites. The more you know about them, the more you can tailor your speech to appeal to them, and the better equipped you’ll be to answer their questions easily.
If you’re presenting to a large crowd, you obviously won’t be able to research each and every one of them. However, you can research the event and location. If you’re speaking at an information security conference, for example, you’re going to have a somewhat different audience than if you’re presenting at a digital marketing event. Knowing about the event, the venue, the general location, and what the members of your audience have in common will help you put together the right speech for the occasion.
PRACTICE UNTIL YOU’RE COMPLETELY COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR MATERIAL
Whether you’re giving a modified speech or not, you should be able to present your material in your sleep. The best way to do this is to practice alone, in front of the mirror, and in front of other people. Practice as much as possible until you’re completely comfortable and you know your material backward and forward. Then, even with the nerves of speaking in front of investors or a large audience, you’ll be comfortable enough to make a good impression.
RELAX, WALK, AND BREATHE
Finally, when you’re speaking, don’t feel like you have to stand stock-still. It’s okay to roam in a relaxed manner as you make gestures when appropriate and address the audience. If you start to feel nervous or anxious, remember to breathe regularly and to pause when necessary to make a point and let your audience keep pace with you.
Follow these tips to see significant improvements in your public speaking so that you can gain more influence and instill more confidence in your investors.