For most professionals, speaking is the best way to establish expertise and gain business in the process. For other industries, speaking is required to move past the paperwork stage such as the case with Request for Proposals (RFPs). In my experience, I’ve discovered a few tips for helping develop the skill of public speaking.
1) Practice– I’ve discovered a lot through trial and error in the last 7 years that I’ve been speaking to audiences. Not everyone has the opportunity to practice on a daily basis like I did at the zoo, but there are professional outlets that will allow you to gain your own experience. Professional organizations such as BNI, Toastmasters, and other industry groups often require some sort of presentation. Having the ability to frequently give presenting a try is the antidote to fear of public speaking. Practice at talent shows, weddings, luncheons, and breakfast meetings; you can learn a lot from constantly practicing and trying new things.
2) Topic– Knowing what to talk about is a major component, you can’t stand there and say nothing. Spend some time understand who your audience will be and what they want or need to hear. Craft a presentation that will help the listeners, they have sacrificed a lot to be present.
3) Words– Much like Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech, the audience rallied not just because of what he was saying, but also because they believed what he believed. The same is true for every presentation, clients don’t want to buy your services, they want to buy what you believe. Sharing what you believe in a non-sales environment will go further than attempting to sell them. Allow your words to build trust with the audience– people are likely to buy from who they trust.
Keep each of these elements in mind the next time your team is presenting to win that RFP.