Let’s face it, running a small business requires you to do things you wouldn’t normally do, like public speaking.
From presenting in front of investors and lenders to speaking at conferences, public speaking is inevitable for business success. But, up to 75% of people are scared of public speaking. Are you?
Public speaking tips for introverts
Not all introverts are scared of public speaking, just like not all extroverts love speaking in public. However, many introverts prefer staying out of the limelight. Some introverts might even have glossophobia, which is a fear of public speaking. If you’re glossophobic, you may try to avoid situations where you have to present in front of an audience.
But when it comes to growing your business, refusing to speak in public can be detrimental to success. You might turn down opportunities that could help raise capital, source top talent or attract new customers.
Instead of shying away from the public eye, learn how to manage your anxiety by putting these five tips into action.
1) Take every chance you get to practice
You know the old mantra—practice makes perfect. If you want to overcome your fear of public speaking, you need to do a lot of it.
For those of you who are deathly afraid of public speaking, this won’t be easy. But, it will be worth it.
With practice, you may find yourself growing more comfortable with public speaking. It might even become second nature. And you know those butterflies you get before you speak in public? You might just find them dissipating the more frequently you speak.
Of course, you might not be inclined to dive right into a 40-minute presentation in front of hundreds of people. Instead, start small.
When you host workplace meetings in your small business, look at them as public speaking practice. Search for opportunities to speak at your local library, community or church event, and Chamber of Commerce. Attend city council meetings and voice your opinions and ideas.
The more you start getting comfortable with public speaking, the bigger the risks you’ll be willing to take. Business connection wants you to speak at a conference? No problem. Sure, you’ll likely be nervous when you transition from a meeting to a full-blown conference, but you can handle it. After all, you’ve been practicing for these types of occasions.
2) Prepare before each presentation
Preparation is key in business. Entrepreneurs prepare before launching their ventures by conducting target audience and risk analyses, creating small business plans, and studying business tax structures.
Preparation is key in public speaking, too.
Without preparing, you could lose your train of thought and get flustered. It’s much easier to get back on track when you’re prepared. You know the material and can dive into your next point if you get off course.
Before giving a speech, familiarize yourself with your audience. Once you nail down who you’re speaking to, you can remember that you might be in the limelight, but it’s not about you—it’s about providing information to your audience.
You can also watch videos on successful public speakers. Observe their voice, tone, body language, and talking speed. However, try not to get discouraged if you can’t mimic what they do—they’ve likely had a lot of experience.
If you don’t plan what you’re talking about, you’ll only make yourself more nervous. You need to organize your thoughts and put pen to paper.
Research data that correlates with what you’re talking about. One study found that adding numbers and facts can increase retention by 20 times.
Read your speech out loud to get into a rhythm. You might even consider memorizing your speech.
If you have the ability, try to practice your speech in the room you’ll be presenting in. This helps you get a feel for the environment. And, you can practice setting up technology, like projectors, if applicable.
Here’s a quick snapshot of how you can prepare before public speaking:
- Understand your audience
- Study successful public speakers
- Outline your presentation
- Add some hard data
- Practice your presentation
- Memorize your speech
- Practice your speech in the room where you’ll be speaking
3) Be authentic when you speak
To help calm some public speaking nerves, try being yourself. It’s easy to take on a new persona when you’re speaking in front of an audience, but authenticity can help keep you grounded.
Pretend that you are having a conversation with someone else.
Smile throughout your presentation. Engage your audience by making eye contact. Being authentic helps you remember that it’s OK to make mistakes.
Try not to get overwhelmed if you mess up during your presentation. When you speak to someone and get tongue-tied or forget where you were going with something, you likely laugh it off and move on. Do the same when public speaking.
If you’re incredibly nervous, consider being honest with your audience. Some public speakers have been able to own their fears by acknowledging them. Just be sure to gauge your audience and the situation before sharing too much information or making jokes.
4) Channel your business passion into public speaking
Alright, you may not love public speaking. But (hopefully), you love your business. If you’re passionate about running your own business, channel that energy into public speaking. Instead of dreading speaking in public, try to pump yourself up. Look at public speaking as an opportunity to talk about your business and share your knowledge and experience.
Again, think about what your audience can gain from your speech. And, consider why you are speaking to begin with. Are you trying to get business financing? More customers? Create a public speaking goal that relates to your business. You may find yourself taking advantage of more public speaking opportunities if it helps you grow your venture.
5) Remember that you can recharge afterwards
Introverts need to recharge after being in a social setting. Although you shouldn’t blow through a presentation, remember that you can spend time in solitude afterwards.
Public speaking opportunities don’t last forever. You may find comfort in the fact that you can recharge when you’re done.
If you mess up when speaking in public, it’s not the end of the world. As an introvert, you might be more apt to fixate on the mistake. Instead, shake off any embarrassment and focus on how you can improve for your next speech.