Have you ever wondered whether what you say matches your messaging about your product or service?
Entrepreneurs and small business owners represent their brands every time they speak, whether in their business or in public. If you aren't aware of how you're representing your product or service, your message is likely muddled.
Are you a boring presenter or a compelling speaker? Are you able to persuade an audience of one to a thousand people to buy your gadget? Does what you're saying and doing align with your offer? Are you having a negative or positive impact on your listeners?
While you might have answered "yes" to the questions above, to what degree is "sort of" included in your answers? To see how your words and behavior position your brand when you speak publicly, you have to ask for feedback. If you choose to ignore the mirror, your informal talks, public pitches, and presentations may not be congruent with your core message -- and, therefore, not converting your listeners.
Career Consequences of Not Being Self-Aware
When one of my clients, a managing partner of an overseas law firm, was passed over to join the board, the board asked me to coach him. His pitch had flopped multiple times because he presented himself as self-serving, dismissive, and arrogant in his conversations with them.
He was surprised and bewildered by the board's feedback. During my first meeting with him, his body language indicated that being coached would waste his time. He was above it, was uninterested, and didn't think he needed it.
Upon further exploration, his "distancing" cues (making no eye contact, generalizing statements, deflecting personal questions, interrupting, and talking over the speaker) became obvious. He wanted to be in control of his image and reputation, which affected his words and body language -- and, therefore, his career.
Through our work together, he learned to slow down to ask engaging questions as opposed to talking over and down to people. Feedback helped increase his self-awareness, and now he can identify and adjust his cues. Recently, the board asked him to take a global role, which he eagerly accepted.
How to Be a Self-Aware Speaker
No matter how big or small the audience, speaking publicly is challenging for many. Here are three simple steps to deliver the most engaging talk possible by being more aware of the message you carry.
1. Identify your core message.
No one wants to hear rambled words. Being able to articulate your core message and why it is important to the audience in 10 words or less is fundamental. What are you there to do? Sell? Educate? Call people to action?
Once you know your core message, slice surgically through your presentation to refine it by curating key examples to illustrate your main points. Separate your content into buckets containing three points for you to access and expand upon concisely. This helps ensure your examples are succinct and relevant.
2. Decide how you want the audience to feel.
When was the last time you remembered the contents of a 64-page budget review meeting? I bet you remember how you felt during that review -- bored, antsy, and possibly worried. If the review was compelling, the presenter was memorable and considered credible.
If you don't connect your key information to why the content is important, it won't stick, and your ask will get lost. To get listeners to connect to you and your words, focus on what's in it for them. Ask yourself, "What do I want them to do?" and "What facts and stories will touch the emotion that's attached to their agenda and motivate them to act?"
3. Ask for feedback.
When was the last time you asked for feedback after you spoke in a meeting or presented formally?
A recent survey suggests that less than 2 percent of presenters at Fortune 100 companies rehearse presentations aloud. Consider seeking feedback more often during your business communications.Whether it's using Skype, taking a voice recording, talking to a mirror, or seeking an audience member's feedback, get the information so you can see, learn, and adjust.
Don't just ask how you did. Be specific. Ask about the areas you're trying to improve. To illustrate: "I've been told that I'm very animated when I talk. I use my hands a lot. I want to know when it was just right and when it was over the top. Were my pauses long enough? Did I really nail this particular point and explain it clearly?"
And there you have it -- three proven tactics to improve your powers of persuasion to move your career forward when you are speaking in public.