Public speaking is an essential skill in business. Some people love getting on stage while others loathe the idea of speaking in front of a crowd. In fact, Psychology Today reports that public speaking is often the number one fear, ranking even higher than death! But public speaking is a good thing for any entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur. In your role as a business founder, you will undoubtedly come into opportunities to speak to groups big and small. Follow along to learn how public speaking skills help you in your career as an entrepreneur.
Improve presentation skills
As a company founder, you may find yourself explaining the value of your product or service again and again. Because you may be pitching your idea to customers, investors, media, and others, you might as well be good at it! Like any other skill, speaking and presenting are skills you can get better at with practice. Practice regularly to master the craft of public speaking.
At Ignite FinCon 2015 in Charlotte, speaker Jennifer Fitzgerald gave some great tips for storytelling, an essential aspect of public speaking, in a fun 5-minute presentation. If you live in a city with Ignite events, they are a challenging but fun way to practice public speaking in short, 5-minute presentations.
You might find that presentation skills give you the edge you need to land big sales, big investors, and other relationship and presentation-driven victories for your business. You might even find that as you gain more experience speaking, it becomes a fun and thrilling experience.
I have been lucky enough to speak at events and conferences from coast to coast, and I never get tired of the adrenaline rush before hopping on stage. Every crowd is different. Every city is different. Every talk, even ones on the same topic, is different. Public speaking keeps you sharp and witty, fundamental features of any upcoming business leader.
While the on-stage time is unidirectional, public speaking is all about relationships. From setting speaking dates to the event itself, speakers have many opportunities to interact with event planners and leaders. You might even find new speaking opportunities in the audience. You never know who might be sitting in the crowd!
For the 8th year in a row, I’ll be attending the annual FinCon conference. FinCon is a conference for financial media and a highlight of my year. I have spoken at FinCon in some capacity eight times and have countless relationships from the event. In fact, some of my closest friends and colleagues come from the FinCon community. My writing on this site came out of a relationship at FinCon. That relationship may not have happened had I not found my way to the stage as a public speaker.
Business leaders often speak at conferences to show their thought leadership in their industry, but the value goes far beyond personal name recognition for the speaker. When an entrepreneur speaks, he or she speaks for the company. The business logo goes up on the big screen every time, and it helps drive brand recognition as well. Any marketer can tell you how much that is worth. Companies spend billions on advertising every year. When you speak for your company, you get some highly targeted advertising for free!
Think about your customer acquisition cost. If you are a bank, your cost is about $200 per customer. If you can get on stage and convert just ten people from the crowd, it is a $1,000 value to your business. Remember that entrepreneurship is a long game. When you speak to the right audience, you may see value continue to come in for years.
Practice thinking on your feet
As a business founder, an entrepreneur makes constant decisions. Public speaking is a great training ground for the situations business executives find themselves in every day. Between technical difficulties, Q&A time at the end of a talk, and an occasional heckler, seasoned speakers can handle just about anything. That includes angry employees, pushy investors, and inquisitive journalists.
If you want to really hone this skill, consider taking an improv class or signing up to speak at an Ignite event, like the Ignite FinCon or Ignite Podcast Movement events I run annually. These 5-minute talks force you to expert speaker status quickly. They help you learn to concisely present even the most complex topics.
Make a few bucks
While most entrepreneurs speak on behalf of their business and don’t get any speaker fees for presenting, there are some instances where you may get paid to speak. In fact, there are people who built their entire income and business around speaking! Check out Grant Baldwin’s amazing website to learn more about speaking professionally.
I do a few occasional paid speaking gigs and love the opportunity to earn a few dollars while doing something I love. That is a serious win-win scenario!
Public speaking is a great skill for any entrepreneur
Whether you are right out of school or a veteran businessperson, public speaking is a great way to improve your skills and grow your business. The next time you get an opportunity to get behind the microphone, give it an enthusiastic yes!