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Speak Your Way to Profit
by Maria Gracia

Public speaking can be an incredible way for you to market your business. Very often, however, this is a scary thought for many people.

What if I sound silly? What if I forget what to say? What if I freeze? What if something goes wrong?

These questions, and countless others, deter people from getting up in front of a group to share their expertise. This is unfortunate, because public speaking can result in thousands of dollars in sales. It would be a shame to lose that money to stage fright.

Here are a few tips to help you use, and enjoy, the power of public speaking.

1) Remember that people want to learn from you.
If you're planning to do a presentation, the vast majority of people in the audience are there for one thing only--to learn from you.

They're not there to heckle you, prove you wrong, or to make you feel silly. Find comfort in the fact that these people want you to do a good job--because by doing a good job, you'll be helping them.

2) Do targeted presentations whenever possible.
Doing a presentation at the Chamber of Commerce is completely different than 'inviting' people to one of your presentations. People at the Chamber didn't necessarily ask for your presentation. They just happened to be there on a day when there happened to be a speaker present. Many people there may not be interested in the subject being presented.

On the other hand, letís say youíre a real estate agent, and you invite people to a presentation to help them sell their homes quicker. Now, you have a room full of people who are all interested in the subject matter. You'll get a much better response from targeted people.

This certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't do Chamber presentations. It simply means that you won't want to forget about setting up your own targeted presentations which can be many times more powerful.

3) Practice first.
Don't wait to rehearse until the actual presentation. Present to your spouse, a friend, or some associates. Ask them to critique your voice, your body movements, your tone, etc.

Record your presentation into a tape recorder, so you can brush up on any weak areas.

4) Use guides.
Before the presentation, take the time to outline your thoughts in an organized fashion.

Sometimes, you might do a presentation with overheads or slides. In this case, you'll have a format to help guide you through your presentation.

Other times, you might simply do an oral presentation. But that doesn't mean you have to remember everything. You can certainly make use of index cards, throughout the presentation, to jog some thoughts.

5) Donít memorize word for word.
You don't want to get up in front of a group, and sound like a robot. Plus, it will be too stressful if you forget your lines.

Know about your general subject and know, in general, what you're going to say.

When you're rehearsing before the presentation, ask your listeners to ask you various questions to keep the presentation loose and fresh.

6) Talk about what you know.
If you're doing a presentation, you have to know about the subject you're presenting. The more you know about your subject, the easier it will be for you to feel a sense of comfort.

Present what you know. If a question comes up that you're not sure how to answer, don't attempt to stumble through it. Simply say, "That's a good question. I'll have to think about some possibilities. Let's talk some more about your question after the presentation."

7) Donít be a comic, unless youíre really good at it.
Sure, some of the best presentations include comedy. Remember though, you're not there to be a comedienne. You're there to share some useful information.

If you're very good at saying a few things that are funny, but appropriate, that's fine.

However, if you're nervous that you won't get a laugh, you probably won't. In this case, eliminate comedy from your act.

8) Involve the audience.
Audience participation is one of the best ways to get people really interested in the subject at hand. Ask people to write down a question, related to the subject you're presenting.

Then, go around the room and have each person read his/her question out loud. Ask other people to answer that person's question and then share your thoughts about it.

9) Use visuals.
People really respond to visuals. Letís say youíre a professional organizer. Instead of just talking about a file folder, hold one up. Rather than going on and on about priorities, do a short demonstration. Show a junk drawer. Pass out an example of a Master List.

Be careful. Don't use visuals that distract. The only visuals you should ever use are those that enhance.

10) Watch your time and remember your goals.
If you're going to do a one-hour presentation, keep an eye on the time. Don't keep looking at your watch, but keep a watch or clock on a table where you can check it from time to time. Or you might simply ask someone in the audience to signal you at certain time intervals.

Wrap up your presentation a few minutes early, so there's some time for any questions or clarifications at the end.

Whatever you do, don't leave without achieving your goal.

If your goal was to collect contact information from attendees for follow-up, be sure to do that before everyone leaves.

If your goal was to make mention of your Web site and all it has to offer, be sure to do so a few times during your session.

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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Maria Gracia, All Rights Reserved.
All content, graphics, and HTML code are protected by US and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without explicit written permission.

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