Making speeches can be a powerful tool in generating new job opportunities and driving your career.
“You will discover that by giving speeches, your credibility sky-rockets. In essence, you are showcasing your talents, expertise and confidence,” says Don Straits, CEO and “Dragon Slayer” of Corporate Warriors. “Frequently, after your presentation, you will be invited by a member of the audience to speak to another group. You may also be asked to work with companies in a consulting, contract or employment role to help them achieve success. Plus, a list of your presentations on your resume is a grand-slam home run.”
You can also use speeches at local civic organizations as an opportunity to market your business or services, and to drum up new sales contacts.
The first step is to generate speaking opportunities:
- Analyze your strong knowledge points – What do you know that would be valuable to others? For example, an administrator could speak on organization skills, “Out the Old, In With the New: Organization Secrets that Will Save You Thousands of Dollars”; an executive could speak on leadership, “Go Where No Others Have Gone and Leave a Trail to Follow.”
- Locate an audience – local clubs, nonprofit organizations, community groups, church groups, social groups and trade associations are always in search of speakers.
- Approach groups with your topic, state why it is relevant to their audience and show them a summary of your experience as someone with a vast amount of information to share with the group.
Next, overcome your fears with a few simple techniques:
- Breathe deeply before you walk out in front of your audience. Breathe in through your mouth, hold the oxygen in your lungs, and then expel through your nostrils. The fresh oxygen eases the tension and makes the mind work better.
- Know your introduction; practice many times so that it flows smoothly.
- Know your material. Research, analyze, absorb and understand all the nuances of your material.
- Know your audience. What are their expectations? Education level? Demographics? You want to adjust your presentation to the needs of the audience.
- Interact with the audience. During your presentation, get out from behind the podium and interact. Ask questions, solicit comments and involve them in short give-and-take.
- Rehearse. Don’t memorize your speech. If you do, your speech will sound canned. Rather, practice as many times as possible so that you know the material and what you want to say.
Now, add pizzazz to the presentation:
- Make eye contact. As you move about your audience, make direct eye contact with different individuals. Hold that eye contact for 4 to 6 seconds.
- Voice communication – use a combination of varied pace, pitch and pauses.
- Gestures. When you practice, practice with movement.
- Touch their hearts. Capture your audience with stories from the human experience: comedy, tragedy, romance, family, friends, career success or career failure.
- Leave them begging for more. Don’t make the mistake of ending your presentation with questions. Rather, asks for questions that have some closing remarks