Every business owner leads presentations. They present their idea to investors. They present their product or service to customers. They present their company values to employees. Finally, they can, do, and should present at events.
Yet, so many business owners (and corporate business leaders for that matter), don't put the time and effort to become better at public speaking. Persuasion is often the biggest trait entrepreneurs have, yet some don't speak as well as they think they do.
Business owners who speak well are likely to generate more revenue, according to research. So, are you leaving money on the table?
Here are a few things you can do right now to improve your public speaking skills and generate more business in the process.
1. Not Getting Out There
Many business owners don't get out enough to speak to audiences. Period. They spend many hours in office meetings, analyzing, planning, making decisions, but only with their internal team.
Yes, you love your company and want to be around for all the hustle and grind, but as the figurehead for your brand, you need to spend time sharing your thought leadership. You will generate sales through a great speech and demonstrating that you and the company you represent are smart.
2. Choosing the Right Audience
A few years ago, professional speaker Bobby Umar saw a talk by a UPS business leader to an audience of youth entrepreneurs. It wasn't the right fit, as the majority in that audience was not planning to buy their services, or even could.
"Many business owners will speak at events, but pick the wrong places to speak," Umar says. "You want to make sure the audience is a strong target for your product or service and higher audience numbers definitely help. You will generate far more business leads with the speech and by networking effectively afterward."
3. Better Structure
Even the most passionate business owner can sometimes ramble. Whether you use slides or not, structuring your speech will go a long way to get your message across. Umar believes structure helps the audience follow your ideas and absorb them better.
"Really slick slides or video can enhance the effect of a memorable presentation," he says. "Remember that each audience is different, so you need to structure your talk based on their needs."
Finally, your structure may make the difference in someone wanting to do business with you. A great resource is Nancy Duarte's brilliant TED talk comparing the structure of Martin Luther King Jr's "I have a dream" speech to Steve Jobs first iPhone launch.
4. Storytelling Matters
Every business owner has a story. (This is the what runs my entire business.)
Every product or service you offer has a story behind its conception and growth. Too many overwhelm their audiences with details, minutiae, and things that do not matter as much to your audience.
Storytelling is a powerful way to take even the most complex idea and deliver context, color, culture, values, and meaning. It is also the ultimate connector through emotion and relatability. People buy from those that they trust.
5. Selling Onstage
Watching a business owner shamelessly sell onstage is nauseating. Watching a gifted speaker seamlessly sell without actually selling is a gift.
"The whole point of speaking is to sell you and your company as a brand such that the audience should want to engage with you more," Umar says. "You do that by focusing on providing tremendous value in your talk, getting your audience to think about new ideas and content, showcasing some of the amazing ways your company is helping people."
Remember, even the best public speakers spend time honing their craft. As a business owner, you have a huge opportunity to improve your speaking, generate a bigger thought leadership brand, and ultimately drive more sales and generate revenue. Is that worth something to you?
Then invest in speaking better, get feedback and speak more often.