Archive for December 20, 2010

Fear of Speaking

Because so many people fear public speaking, great benefits are accorded to those who dare to get up in front of an audience and speak. Audiences tend to believe that those who speak publicly about their industry are more knowledgeable than those who don’t speak publicly are. Speakers command more respect. The audience is more likely to want to do business with the speaker than nearly anyone else that they know in the same industry is.
So, if you’re willing to speak about your profession, what you know and what inspires you, you’ll move farther ahead of your peers in terms of gaining notoriety and being highly regarded.
The only way to break the fear of public speaking is to do it. Like learning to ride a bicycle, before you get competent, you’ll probably fall a lot. You may even fall a time or two after you become an expert, but you learn to make it work for you. You’ll develop your instincts for knowing when you’re moving toward your purpose and when you’re off-course. Once you learn the skill of speaking, you can take it into any arena.
It won’t take long for the joy of speaking to break through the sense of fear. The first time you experience this joy, you may be surprised at how incredibly empowering it is to be able to command your audience’s attention and inspire them to take action based on your recommendations. They’ll seek your advice and want to acquire your business savvy.
The process of public speaking is the fastest method of gaining effective professional acceptance that I am aware. For example, based on the national sales averages, you’ll convert one of 20 potential prospects into a client. If you speak in front of a group of 40 prospects, the odds are that you’d net two to four new clients.
The process of speaking to these 40 people might take you two to three hours, including setting up the talk, speaking, getting there and back again. How long would it take you to dial 40 new prospects, play phone tag a few times, and then actually talk with them?

Owning the Speaking Title

Early on in my speaking career I was speaking at a Rotary Club in Berkeley where we were fed pasta, meat with gravy, and ice cream with a rich topping. At that time, I was not yet aware how quickly high carbohydrate meals turn to sugar. This will cause most people to experience sugar spikes and get incredibly tired. Fortunately, I barely ate a bite because I was too nervous. When it was time to get up and talk about how the Rotary group in Berkeley could support the new incubator in Oakland, I noticed that at the second table back, a man who was in his mid-60’s sat with his arms crossed and he had his eyes closed. As I began to enlighten my audience, this gentleman began to snore. Most of the other members laughed softly, while still paying attention to my talk the best they could.

Then the snoring became unbearably loud. It was impossible for the audience to concentrate on what I wanted them to hear. Some of them couldn’t even hear me over the snoring.

Feeling distracted, I walked out into the group and laid my hand gently on the snoring member’s arm. He immediately jerked awake and looked around the room at all the smiling faces.

I leaned in close to him and asked, “Would you like to join the rest of us?”

Everyone, including the man who was snoring, had a good laugh.

That was the magic moment in which I became a professional speaker. I took control of the situation and I gained their respect because of the way I handled the instance.

From that moment on, I have never let my nervousness distract me from the purpose of inspiring and informing a group. When unforeseen situations occur, I work with them instead of resisting them.