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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Small Change in Your Mindset can Increase Your Sales

by Pawel Grabowski

Sure, you know that you must sell. Deep in your heart of hearts though you despise it. You know that making sales is the only way to increase your revenue, build up your company and, well, stay in business. You have heard of the results others get. You know that selling works.
But, for some reason, it’s not working for you.

You work hard researching and contacting prospects. You do your best to interest them with your work during a sales presentation. Hell, you even follow up, which is not something many small business owners would do.  But you still don’t make sales. At least not as many as you would like. You do everything by the book but you get no results. And, the sales that you make, well, sometimes they feel kind of accidental. Like as if they just happened, as if you were simply in the right place at the right time.

You know that wasn’t selling, just luck.

So, what’s wrong? What’s causing all this hard work to go to waste?

Well, I may have an idea so read on. I will show you a simple hack that can help you make more sales almost instantly.

This Is Not Only Your Problem

Before we begin, there is one more thing I want to talk about.

You are not alone. The problem I am about to discuss with you is one of the most common ones amongst all small business owners. There are literary thousands of people that struggle to make sales. Some of them try very hard, others give up because, as someone once told me, “this is the difficult part.” Nevertheless, they make no sales.

But do you know what is the reason for that?

Wrong Attitude

Yep, it’s nothing to do with who you are, what you do and how good you are at selling (well, technique plays a part in that too but it’s not the most important part). It’s your approach to selling that’s causing the problem.

Because, you see, you go to a presentation hoping to make the sale (and I fully realize how stupid this sentence sounds but please, read on). The trouble is, it’s true. You go to the sales call with one intention, to get the order.  It’s not a genuine, honest reason. It’s being selfish. And, the trouble is, many of your prospects see through that.

Do you know what a seasoned salesman does instead? They go to a meeting hoping that their solutions will help the prospect solve their problems and improve their business.  They know this, hell, they believe in it. And, they get the sale.

Want to make more sales? Go to your next sales call believing that what you are going to do to your prospect is going to help them, improve their business or increase the revenue.  And, you know what the best part is? It’s actually quite simple to do.

How To Change Your Sales Attitude And Show Your Prospects That You Care

1. Realize What You Are Really Selling
You can’t change your mindset if you don’t know what are you really selling. By this I don’t mean the actual product or a service you are offering but what is the biggest benefit of using it.  A web designer does not sell websites. She sells the opportunity to promote the business online, to gain more leads and sales for the business.  A garden designer does not sell new gardens but rather an opportunity to have a special place to rest and unwind.

Find out what you are really selling and figuring out the ways to help your prospects will become extremely easy.

2. Understand That You Are Not The Most Important Part of The Sale
By nature, we think of ourselves first. It’s quite natural, however, if you want to make sales, you need to change the way you think. In sales, in spite of what you might say you are not the important part. It is your potential client, their business and the problems they are looking to fix. Everything else is secondary.

3. Prepare Solutions For Your Prospect
When you initiate a sales process with a prospect, you usually have a very good idea about the kind of problems they might have in relation to what you are selling. If not, I suggest you stop here and first learn how to research your potential clients thoroughly before making the initial contact.

That knowledge should be enough to think of the best solutions for your prospect. It doesn’t mean that you should have the whole proposal ready. But having examples of how you could implement your solution into the prospects business in your presentation will certainly present you as someone who cares.

Here’s A Scary Fact

Every time you lose a sale, you most likely also lose a prospect for life. It is an unfortunate fact that you may never get a chance to sell to them again.  A simple change in your business mindset can make the difference between this and constantly winning new clients for your business.

So, what do you choose?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to do a Great 10 Minute Presentation

by Kelli C. Holmes

One of the key benefits of your membership in TEAM is your opportunity as a "featured speaker". This is "Prime Time", you are in the spotlight! Use this time to it's  maximum potential. 

Here are some tips to try the next time you are the featured speaker:
- GET VISUAL! The more "things" and "stuff" you have that SHOW your "sales team" what your
business is about, the better the information is retained.
- GIVE EXAMPLES. Paint a picture of who your 3 best clients are, what you do for them, where
you found them and why they continue to do business with you. Give your networking

partners this information and they will refer more "best clients" to you! 
- LEAVE TIME FOR Q and A. This is invaluable for our "knowledge factor" on your business.
Don't forget- please use the TEAM Presentation, Speaker Introduction, and the Speaker Questionnaire worksheets!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Importance of Speaker Introductions

By Kelli C. Holmes

Having the right introduction when you are the featured speaker at a meeting sets the tone and atmosphere for your presentation. The purpose of an introduction is to gain the audience’s attention. The audience may have just come from listening to another speaker on a totally different topic, or they may be in the middle of an interesting conversation with a friend. The right introduction will put the focus on you!

A secondary purpose is to motivate the audience to listen. Just because the audience is there, doesn’t mean that they are ready to listen. Let them know “What’s in it for me” – narrow the gap between the audience and the stage with your introduction.

How is a good introduction organized? Introductions fuse three elements: the subject, the audience and the speaker. As the speaker, you put into your introduction what you would like to emphasize or what you think is relevant. Write out your introduction. Practice it for timing. You want it to sound natural and enthusiastic. Reduce your written introduction to a few key words and phrases, shooting for about one minute of information. Transfer it, in large font, to a sheet of paper.

Introduction Tips:

  1. Include your name and how to pronounce it. If it is an unusual name, help the audience learn it. “It rhymes with…”
  2. Put in your title or position.
  3. Be brief, aim for about one minute.  Three minutes max!  Five minutes is too long.
  4. Include the speech title and make sure your description matches the title given.

Additionally, be sure your introduction answers these questions. Why this subject… this audience… at this time? Use the “miniskirt rule” for introductions - It should be short enough to be interesting, and long enough to cover the subject!  One minute is a gracious amount of time and plenty for most people. You can qualify anyone in 60 seconds. Too much data and their attention wanders.

One way to build intimacy with an audience is to relate something of a personal nature, a little known fact, or a special talent, relationship, or community service. For example, “What you may not know about this evening’s speaker is…” The goal is to make your speaker introduction short, informative and interesting!

Friday, July 20, 2012

5 Phrases You Never Want to Hear in a Presentation

by Ben Yoskovitz

Giving good presentations is hard. Public speaking is a true skill that you can develop over time; a combination of art and science. I can’t help but hone in on those words I know don’t belong.
  •  MAKE SOME NOISE!!! Unless you’re at the MTV Music Awards this isn’t much of a crowd pleaser. The key point is this: Know Thy Audience. Your audience should dictate your style, approach, the words you use, etc. If you can’t modify your pitch to your audience you’ll turn people off quicker than you can say…
  • Um… The dreaded “um” is so commonplace in our speech we often overlook it. But when you’re standing in front of a crowd, selling ‘em whatever you’re selling ‘em (and don’t be mistaken: you ARE selling) too many “ums” shows a lack of preparedness and comfort.
  • Did That Make Sense? Actually, it didn’t. And on top of that, because you had to ask me I’m so disengaged at this point that I’ve started playing a game on my BlackBerry. The key here: Practice. Do it in front of a mirror. Do it in the shower. Do it in front of others. Do it in public. If you present in front of friends and family who aren’t in your field of expertise and they get it, you’ve got yourself a winner.
  • What Else Can I Show You? I don’t know, you tell me, that’s why you’re standing up there on the stage and I’m sitting here eagerly in the crowd. Presentations are stories – they need a beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t matter the setting, format or style of presentation/conference/meeting. If you’re standing in front of people and telling them something, you’re spinning a story. And that means it needs all the elements of a good one.
  • I Guess That’s It. Well is that the end or not? You would know better than me. Blog professionals often talk about ending strongly, and the same holds true when giving a presentation. Even saying, “That’s the end” is kind of lame – your final point (and the entire presentation arc) should make it obvious enough, and you should be able to transition instantly into the next step – be it questions, slinking off the stage, hours of clapping…
So, I guess that’s it. Kidding.

Public speaking is the sort of thing that makes grown men cry, and buckles people to their knees. We all know it’s daunting, which is all the more reason to master the 4 Ps of Presentations:
  1. Prepare. You might not need a word-for-word script, but prepare something. Make sure your story is compelling, entertaining and worth listening to.
  2. Practice. You need to practice. Even veteran presenters practice. Make sure you at least read it out loud a few times to develop a good rhythm.
  3. Pronunciate. You need to speak clearly. There’s no room for mumbling in a presentation. Let me toss another P in there – Project. Speak clearly and firmly to get your point across.
  4. Participate. You should always try to engage your audience. The sooner they feel like they’re part of what you’re doing, the better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to Make Your Words Memorable, Part 2

by Lisa B. Marshall

Wait, what did we talk about last week? Oh, yeah, that’s right…people forget stuff! That’s why this week we’re picking up with the second part of how to make your words more memorable. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, it’s helpful to read that first.

 Last week the main point that I covered (besides the fact that forgetting was natural and normal) was the use of repetition. By repeating key ideas and phrases, you help to bolster learning with the goal of making the key words memorable. I used an example from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech:

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to life our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

But, I was a little sneaky because this example also uses a second technique for making your words memorable—word pictures. 

Tip #3: Paint Word Pictures

MLK’s word choices painted images in the minds of listeners. In the Chris Gardner speech I mentioned last week, he also painted many word pictures. In case you don’t recall, Chris Gardner was the man who went from homeless to Wall Street success. His story was chronicled in the Will Smith film The Pursuit of Happyness. Since making it big, Gardner has delivered many speeches. Here’s one of his observations about being homeless that stood out for me: “The guy making $80,000 a year was strutting around like the NBC peacock, but he stockbroker in the red Ferrari making $80,000 a month was rolling like a rock star.” The words paint a picture, providing important contrast which makes Gardner’s words more memorable.

 In general, analogies and metaphors are an effective way to paint word pictures. An analogy is just a comparison between two, often dissimilar, things. A metaphor is an expression of a concept in terms of another concept.

These figures of speech are particularly useful when explaining complex ideas because they can explain what you’re trying to say quickly and efficiently (especially when the thing you make the comparison to is well-known by the audience). They are extremely powerful when they are memorable and meaningful. Chris Gardner used the following analogy: “I decided I was going to become world class at something. The chaos of Wall Street, to me, was like reading a sheet of music. This is where I am supposed to be.” Where others saw chaos, he heard music. Great analogy.

Tip #4: Tell Stories 

In fact, analogies are best when used as part of a larger personal story. The more your audience can relate to the feelings and values of the story, the more memorable it will be for them. Stories are how we learn from each other’s experiences. Stories are how we naturally communicate our ideas, values, and goals. Gardner told financial stories; tales from white-collar poverty: “With every dollar that came in, I had to make a choice. Pay the parking ticket, or pay the rent,” he explained to his rapt audience.

Tip #5: Use Surprising Facts

Analogies often help provide emotional support for your story, however, you’ll also want to include factual support; the more startling or unusual, the better. We tend to remember things that are unexpected or surprising.

Chris Gardner shared this interesting fact: “At this point in the 21st century, as many as 30% of homeless adults in America have jobs and go to work every day.” The 9,000 members of the audience suddenly looked at the people sitting next to them differently. I will remember, possibly forever, that statistic and how still the room suddenly felt. It had a dramatic affect on both the hearts and minds of the audience and that’s your goal when telling stories. 

Tip #6: Choose Universal Themes

We tend to remember things that we can relate to. For Chris Gardner, his stories were about a universal theme—personal relationships. He said: “I grew up without a dad, but with a stepfather who daily reminded me ‘I ain’t your daddy.’ So when people ask me about the most important thing I can do with my life, I tell them: it’s to break the cycle of men who were not there for their children.” Poetically, when Oprah asked Gardner’s son about the one thing he remembered about this time in his life, he answered, “Everywhere I looked, my father was there.”

If you want your presentation to be memorable, it’s critical to repeat key phrases, to paint word pictures, and to tell stories with universal themes. Be sure to sprinkle in analogies, metaphors, and surprising facts. If you want others to act on your words, it’s important to follow these tips to make your ideas memorable, powerful, and easily sharable with others.



Monday, July 16, 2012

The Importance of Sharing Stories

by Lisa B. Marshall

When you’re speaking in front of an audience or making a presentation for a client, it’s really important to include stories. For each of your main points, that is for each question, secret, or tip, you’ll want to include a story that is an example of the idea you’re discussing.

This is crucial for a few reasons:

#1. It makes the presentation far more interesting and fun.

#2. In an informal and indirect way, it lets your customers and prospective clients hear about your professional experiences and it shows that you already have clients that pay for your expertise.

#3. Perhaps most importantly, people remember stories. People not only easily remember stories, but they retell them to other people—which can only help your business or cause!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Use Nervous Energy to Your Advantage

by Lisa B Marshall

Speaking in front of others involves risk. The risk of making a mistake. The risk of not knowing something. The risk of being judged. The risk of appearing stupid.

How to overcome speaker’s anxiety is probably the single most common question I get. For some people, the fear of speaking publicly is debilitating. They avoid making presentations, attending meetings, or even going to dinner parties because of this fear. Others mention physical responses: turning red, a shaky voice, feeling sick. For others it’s just a mild sensation of nervous energy, a dry mouth or maybe a faster pulse.

But here’s the secret to great public speaking: It requires nervous energy!

In my experience, it is rare is for someone NOT to feel some nervous energy when standing up in front of an audience. Whether we are about to be attacked by a tiger, or about to deliver a speech, the brain perceives physical or psychological stress. Instantly, it starts pumping chemicals through your body. Your heart beats faster. Your blood pressure increases. Your senses sharpen.

Having this response is a GOOD thing. Extra nervous energy helps us. Research suggests it can help you perform tasks more efficiently and can improve memory. Good stress is something we want. Good stress stimulates us. Use the energy to show your passion for the subject matter of your presentation.  Use the energy for a stronger voice and varied inflection. Use the energy to move around the room. Use the energy to encourage interaction.

By channeling your nerves into creating positive attributes to your speech, you can utilize them to your advantage.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Using Public Speaking as Another Form of PR

By stepping up to the podium, you can increase awareness
 of your business and yourself.
by Al Lautenslager

Q: How can I publicize my business and position myself as an expert when I can't always get my press releases published?
A: Public speaking is another form of effective PR. You probably don't think of yourself as a speaker, but it's easier than you think-and the results will prove it's well worth the effort.
If a prospect wanted to meet with you today to discuss buying something from you, you would gladly meet and talk. You could probably talk as long as that interested prospect wanted to talk. See, you can talk. You are a speaker. Now imagine making this same presentation, holding this same discussion with a room full of prospects.
Speaking to increase your public awareness is not quite the same as delivering your sales pitch at the podium. You need to deliver something of value to your targeted audience, and you want to educate and inform. This type of speaking does a number of things for you:
  • It establishes you as an expert in whatever subject you are talking about. You become the resource. People like to buy from experts.
  • You are in a giving mode. You are giving information, tips, techniques, methods and ideas. You may even be sharing some stories that your audience will relate to and learn from. Your audience will appreciate this value.
  • You are being efficient. Delivering your message once for many to hear is much more efficient than delivering it many times to every single prospect.
  • You start and continue a relationship. Many people will want to talk to you after you speak or follow up with you in one form or another.
  • You develop a prospect list of highly targeted people to market to after your presentation. These targeted and interested audience members are more likely to buy from you than someone who has not heard you or who you don't have a relationship with.
There are a number of places where you can speak. Many service organizations feature speakers and meet weekly, such as Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis. Toastmasters is a group that will help you with your speaking. Church groups and Universities also have guest speakers on particular subjects. Some chambers of commerce invite guests to speak at their functions. You can even develop your own seminar or workshop if you have the right subject and the right audience.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Make Your Words Memorable, Part 1

 by Lisa B. Marshall

“I hate to disappoint you. But Will Smith isn’t coming.”

That was the first line of Chris Gardner presentation. He’s the inspiration behind Will Smith’s character in the film, The Pursuit of Happyness. And despite the unfavorable odds of recall, I clearly remember this opening line.

What do you remember about the last speech you heard? If you’re like most people, probably not very much.

Chris Gardner spoke to a crowd of about 9,000. For an hour, he talked about his very personal journey from homelessness to Wall Street. I have never been homeless and neither have I worked on Wall Street. No connection there. But, do I remember very much about his speech? Yes, I do.

Why do I remember it? What was it, specifically, that made it memorable? In this two-part episode we’ll cover exactly what it is about a speech that makes it stick in your mind, and learn how you can make your presentations more memorable.

Tip #1: Remember That People Forget

First, remember that it’s natural to forget. We forget appointments, we forget people’s names, we forget the plots of books we read. Heck, I often forget what I’ve written in earlier The Public Speaker episodes until someone reminds me! One explanation for forgetting is trace decay. This theory suggests that learning etches a path in your brain, like you make in the woods when you go for a walk. If you continually walk along the same route, the path gets deeper. If you go a different way, the original path eventually becomes overgrown—until it disappears. So the less time you spend walking along the path, the murkier it gets. It’s the same with memory.

A famous study on forgetting textbook materials compared the percentage of material remembered after different intervals of time. The results were fascinating: After one day, 54% was remembered. After two months, only 14% was remembered. So you should expect that your audience will forget part of what you say. The key is to know that it’s important to use specific techniques so that some people will still remember it long after it ends. What are these techniques? Read on.

Tip #2: Use Repetition

Make your key ideas stick by using and repeating key ideas and key phrases throughout your presentation. You might even consider starting or ending (or both) with your key phrase. These phrases are sometimes referred to as money lines or signature phrases.

I recently listened to a funny, short Tedx talk by Joe Smith, called, How to Use a Paper Towel. He repeated the words “shake” and “fold” many times during the talk and in fact, he even got the audience to join in by asking them to repeat the words aloud. It seems a bit hokey when you watch the presentation but it is because of the silly repetition that we are then able to remember the main points of this talk. I can personally attest it worked for me! Every time I’ve been in a public restroom since watching his talk, I’ve followed Joe’s shake and fold advice!

On a more serious note, you’re likely familiar with the repetition of key phrases from political speeches. In fact, our current president, Barak Obama, used this technique when he was still a senator:

Yes we can to justice and equality, Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.

Or perhaps you were first exposed to this technique when you heard the well-known 1963 speech from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to life our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Next week we’ll pick up from here in part two with more tips on making your presentations more memorable.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

10 Tips for Public Speaking

by Toastmasters International

Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and even beneficial, but too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here are some
proven tips on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations:
  1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more
    about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.

  2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.

  3. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.

  4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.

  5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. ("One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.

  6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.

  7. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.

  8. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.

  9. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.

  10. Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Can Speaking Live Boost Your Business?

by Jo Foster, Love Your Small Business

A month ago I was invited to speak on a panel for women business leaders at the University of Canterbury. I was excited to accept, even though I felt a good dose of imposter syndrome creeping in.

Janine and I have always wanted to combine our online work with face-to-face workshops and events, so this felt like a great opportunity to get out in front of some women in our sector and test out how effective public speaking might be as a tool for getting the word out about our work.
To clarify, this is not the kind of event where you get up and do a hard sell of your business, so attending was not just about getting clients. From our perspective it was a great opportunity to speak live in front of women from our sector and to build relationships. As it turned out, it has also been great for our business for a whole lot of other reasons….

Preparation is a great learning exercise!  

In the time leading up to the panel event, I thought a lot about what I might have to offer to a discussion about 'women leading in business'. I have a good understanding of the reasons why women enter into the world of entrepreneurship, and the key challenges that women in business face, based on our recent survey of Kiwi and Ozzie women entrepreneurs, but I was also looking forward to hearing from others. 
I also wanted to make sure I conveyed professionalism, knowledge, and our core vision and values. It was a lot to think about, but I got a lot of value out of the process and the pressure of a looming event caused me to put some serious thought into it! As a result, I have improved my ability to articulate what we do and why we do it. 

Nerves in my handbag but there was fun to be had!

So – last Thursday I headed along to the panel accompanied by a good dose of nerves. I have done a lot of public speaking in previous jobs and feel confident, but this was the first time I had put myself out there representing Love Your Small Business….and I had a great time!
The panel was chaired well, with simple questions that led to a bunch of different opinions on the topic. There was heated discussion, as well as thought-provoking questions from the audience. I also had an opportunity to speak a little about what we do, so I focussed on how we empower women to achieve business success by helping them make that core connection between profit and purpose, which was great.

Can speaking live boost your business?

Yes. I believe it can. Even when the event you are speaking at is not appropriate for selling, it can still have a big impact on your business. There were several positive spin-off's from attending this event for us: 
  1. Nothing beats connecting face to face: While online business works on many levels, live face to face connection is where it's at! After speaking at this event I was approached by at least 5 women, all of whom have followed up by contacting me and want to build a relationship with Love Your Small Business. These people are now a part of our community and we are excited to have them onboard!  
  2. Instant feedback: I loved the instant feedback I received from being at a live event. It's just not quite the same online – the body language, facial expressions etc.really give you a sense of the impact you have had. I also received a great response to the work we are doing with women in biz, and that was awesome to hear.
  3. The opportunity to get your unique message across and draw like-minded people to your work: Helping women entrepreneurs connect with their personal purpose and values, then use them to guide their business decisions, is at the heart of what we do. And let me assure you, we follow our own advice! 
    Despite my nerves and the possibility that my opinion would set me apart from other panel members, I contributed to the discussion based on my own purpose, vision and values, as well as the ones I share with Janine in our work together at LYSB. I know that some of my values & beliefs about how to 'be' in business did not resonate with all members of the panel or the audience, but you could never hope to please everyone and nor did I want to.
    The important thing to me was that those women in the audience who spoke with me afterwards did resonate strongly with what I shared. They felt compelled to speak with me based on shared values, and a connection that goes beyond anything that hyped up sales and marketing could ever do!
I came away from this event having connected with some inspiring women, potential partners and clients. I also received a great big boost of confidence. So absolutely yes, speaking live can boost your business.
We will definitely keep doing what we're doing, getting out in front of people face to face, and continuing to develop our strategy so that we can get face-to-face with people more in the future.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Use Public Speaking to Grow Your Business

by Pam Lawhorne

Public speaking can be one of the most powerful avenues for bringing in traffic, deals and a powerful reputation for your growing business. Why is public speaking so high impact? How can you find places to speak? How do you structure business deals with people who have audiences? These are some of the questions we’ll explore in this article.

The Potential Impact Of Public Speaking on Your Business
Anyone who’s heard you speak in person is a candidate for being a loyal customer. Furthermore, if you made a strong impression, influential business people may also invite you for business deals.

There’s something almost magical that happens when someone steps on stage. They’re automatically branded “The Expert.” People look at you with an air of authority and deference.
If you use this opportunity to demonstrate skill, knowledge and expertise, you’ll build a level of credibility that’s hard to rival through online newsletters or even one on one interactions.
You’ll be able to speak to larger and larger crowds, building a more and more solid reputation, getting more traffic and more business deals.

Getting Your First Few Speaking Gigs
The first and perhaps best place to start speaking is at Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an international organization with groups from as small as four people to as large as 100+, giving all its members the opportunity to learn how to speak in public.

You’ll learn skills like how to prepare a presentation, how to research in-depth facts, how to use your body and voice, how to use comedy and how to improvise on stage.

Once you have a fair bit of speaking experience under your belt, then proceed to the “small speaking circuit” first.

This is basically the local groups and meet-ups in your area. Look on Meetup for meet-ups related to your industry and meet their organizers. See if you can help out by offering your expertise. Also look into speaking at your local Chamber of Commerce.

Finding Larger Audiences to Speak To
How do you speak at conferences? Seminars? Larger audiences? Remember that conference organizers need good speakers and spend a considerable amount of time hunting down these speakers.

The trick is to start building relationships with as many influential people in your space as possible. Do this by attending conferences and seminars and deliberately meeting people who speak at conferences or have large email lists.

Also, if you have a clear offer for speakers, that can help. For example, if you sell a product or workshop and you’re willing to split profits 40%, that can go a long way towards convincing people with audiences to let you speak.

Before you have a solid reputation, some speakers may want to see a video or two of you on stage before letting you speak on their stage. They basically want to make sure you know how to speak before putting their reputation on the line for you.

If you don’t have a video like this, just have a friend film you speaking at a Toastmasters meeting and put it on YouTube.

To recap, build your speaking skills by speaking at Toastmasters, then start out in your local circuit through meet-ups and your chamber of commerce. Then, build your relationships and reputation and gradually work your way up to larger and larger audiences. The influence, traffic and reputation that you’ll build this way can completely revolutionize your business.

Monday, July 2, 2012

5 Unusual Ways to Become a Better Speaker

by Jeff Haden

You’ve been asked to speak at an important event. It’s a great opportunity and you should be thrilled—but since you rarely speak, especially in a formal setting, all you can think about is bombing.

Unfortunately, captivating an audience is definitely a skill that takes years to develop and hone. Since you don’t have that kind of time, here are five unconventional ways to become a better speaker almost overnight:

1. Share an emotional story. Many speakers tell self-deprecating stories but few can resist including the Tom Cruise “talk to me Goose” moment (4:20, NSFW) when all your mistakes and poor decisions and ill-fated tower flybys over an Admiral’s daughter finally came to a head and transformed you into the wonderful person you are today.

Admitting a mistake is great but not when used simply to show how far you’ve come. Instead just tell a story that relates to your topic and let your emotions show. If you were sad, say so. If you cried, say so. If you felt remorse, let it show. When you share real feelings you create an immediate and lasting connection with the audience. Emotion trumps speaking skills every time.

2. Pause for 8 to 10 seconds. There’s a weird phenomena that occurs when you stop talking. Pause for two or three seconds, the audience assume you lost your place. Pause for five seconds and the audience begins to think the pause is intentional... and starts wondering why. Pause for ten seconds and even the people who were immersed in Angry Birds can’t resist looking up.

Then when you start speaking again, the audience naturally 1) assumes the pause was intentional and 2) decides you’re actually a confident and accomplished speaker. Like nature a poor speaker abhors a vacuum and rushes to fill it, and only confident speakers—like you—feel secure in silence. While it won’t be easy, take one long pause to gather your thoughts and the audience will automatically give you speaker bonus points.

3. Ask a question the audience—and you—can’t answer. Speakers ask questions to engage the audience but that technique is often forced and tends to work about as well as this. Instead ask a question you know the audience can’t answer and then say,” That’s okay. I can’t either.” Explain why you can’t and then talk about what you do know. Most speakers have all the answers; the fact you don’t—and are willing to admit it—not only humanizes you but makes the audience pay greater attention to what you do know.

4. Find one thing no one knows. I’ve never heard someone say, “I was at this presentation the other day and the guy’s Gantt chart was amazing...” I have heard someone say, “Did you know when you blush the lining of your stomach also turns red?” Find a surprising fact or an unusual analogy that relates to your topic. Audiences love to cock their heads and think, “Hmmm...”

5. Never think “sales.” Most businesspeople assume they should capitalize on a speaking engagement to try to promote a product or service, win new clients, and build a wider network. Don’t. Thinking in terms of sales only adds additional pressure to what is already a stressful situation. Put all your focus on ensuring the audience will benefit from what you say; never try to accomplish more than one thing.

And don’t worry that you’ll be missing out on an opportunity: When you help people make their professional or personal lives better, you’ve done all the selling you’ll need to do.