Share the Stage with Confidence

Bill H., a founder of a nutrition startup, asks, “How can I get more comfortable speaking in front of groups, investors mostly? I have my top sales guy do all the talking, but apparently it’s starting to look odd that I don’t “share the stage” with him at these presentations. If I lost him, I’d be in big trouble. What to do?”

This is a common concern for many founders wanting to project strong leadership. I define public speaking as any kind of speaking you do with the public: phone calls, 1:1 or small group conversations. Chances are you could not have gotten this far if you had trouble on the phone or in small group conversation. Keep in mind — listeners really care about the substance of what you have to offer, not how slick a presenter you are. They want to make money, period. It’s true that investors like to work with confident and energetic people, but that is secondary to their main interest.

To take action, I suggest you identify where your discomfort in public speaking breaks down and work to refine that level. This is where a communication coach comes in handy. Are you generally anxious, unprepared, unsure of your content, a poor listener, vocally weak or disfluent, etc. at the small group conversation level?  If so, getting some guidance managing those aspects would be a good starting point. Then, consider polishing up one segment of the larger group presentation that you are most comfortable with. This way you can start “sharing the stage” with your sales guy in a small way. With practice and an understanding of what your audience really cares about, you’ll be able to take over more of the presentation in time.

Need more help with public speaking or presentation skills? I’m happy to help you. Contact me at Rebecca@MindfulCommunication.com

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5 Steps For Getting to the Point

Time is a constraint for you and those you’re trying to persuade.

The hour of yesterday is the 20 seconds of today. While you prepare to be heard, keep in mind that the average attention span 20 seconds or less!

1) Know your Objective, don’t just start talking! Research shows that in the first 7 seconds people make approximately 11 different judgments about your worthiness to be heard.

Ask yourself – What do I want to achieve? Why do I want to have that conversation? Have one objective in mind – stick to one objective only. Don’t sidetrack to other related topics or you come across as unsure, unfocused and wishy-washy.

2) Write down your bullet points first in simple and direct language. Now, create a brief sentence with each major talking point. Listen to yourself and edit out redundancies, empty words like “really, great, stuff, uh” and other fillers. Edit out repetitive words like “like, I, really, right,” etc.

3) Use a Good Hook is a headline that grabs attention.Ask yourself, “What is the single best statement or question that will get me to my objective?” A hook is a statement that satisfies a need, one that is  contrary to common experience, a worry, or is the best interest of the listener:

Beets cure insomnia

Did you know reading the wrong way can make you stupid?

What is the best kept secret of Fortune 500 companies?

What is the most unusual, exciting, dramatic, humorous part of your message? That will help shape your hook or opening line.

4) If you’ve hooked your listener, they will want to hear more.  The Body of the message should build a case. It should answer – Who, What, When Where, Why, and How. No more than one sentence for each.

5) Ask for the Action you want them to take in the Closing. It’s your bottom line. What do you want your listener TO DO? Set up an appointment? Get some time off? Invest in your company? Buy your book? Is there a time limit? “The deadline is 3:00 this afternoon,” or “Our sale ends tonight at midnight.”

Crisp articulation, a pleasant sounding voice and vocal dynamics give power, certainty and charisma to your message. Annoying vocal/verbal tendencies (hoarseness, mumbling, too soft or too loud, an unintelligible foreign accent, etc ) can distract a listener from your content.

Practice your “20 second or less” commercial. Start with your main point (one sentence hook or idea in a nut-shell) and support your point with 2-3 main supporting facts. Have more facts ready, if folks want to hear more. Rehearse and record your 20 second message. Try it out on a friend. Get feedback.

Need help getting to the point? Contact me at RebeccaShafir@gmail.com to set up a personalized 30 minute phone training session. 

 

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