I have noticed that many people who are successful in life seem to be good at public speaking. This is no coincidence really, because the attributes of a good speaker are the same attributes needed for a successful business.
The eight attributes of success.
Numerous business owners have a useful skill – a valuable skill – that can help a lot of people. They are passionate about communicating the knowledge they have, and love what they do. However, they have a one major difficulty: Not enough potential customers. And to overcome this difficulty, some presentation skills are essential.
Marketing yourself, and your ideas, is a key function in any business. Conversely, delivering information ineffectively can tarnish your reputation, and mask the benefits people would get from your products or service. In the past, I have sat through a number of one-minute ‘elevator’ presentations (so called because it is could be recited during the duration of a ride in an elevator) and the only thing I remember was how nervous they were – not what they said.
A generally accepted statistic is that, when asked about their number one fear, more people put public speaking at top of the list than any other fear, including death. This is not a fear with which we were born. When we were babies, we had no qualms about being self-expressed, and we did not care how many people were watching or listening.
As a small child, we knew what we wanted and were authentic about everything we did. We had the charisma to get a person’s attention and the ability to swap from emotion to emotion with ease, as we influenced the adults around us to serve our needs. We had a ‘clarity of thought’ that led us to ask insightful question about life: Questions that sometimes surprised adults because we seemed to have wisdom beyond our years.
The skills we had as children are often suppressed, in adulthood, by the ‘noise’ of our thoughts: Decisions we make during our ‘formative years’ about how to behave; about who we are; about what other people think of us; about how other people will behaviour towards us. These thoughts all get in the way of our inborn ability to be self-expressed.
Recognising that these thoughts are of our own creation, and are suppressing our innate wellbeing (our inherent ability to feel happy and contented when there is nothing on our mind),….
Recognising that it is just ‘thought’, can give us access to the attributes we had as children, theses same attributes that are useful to running a business. The attributes we need to talk, comfortably, to one person or to one thousand. Does that make sense Clive?
Question: So, if there is an explicit crossover between the qualities we had as kids and what we need as business owners, what are they?
I believe that these are the eight main attributes of a successful speaker and business owner:
1. A clarity of thought: Peace of mind, with an insightful understanding of our circumstances. This leads to the agility to be able to think on our feet, without the stage fright that so often paralyses other people. This same outlook is ideal for the leadership skills required to run a prosperous business. I’m sure that your best presentations have been when you had nothing else on your mind.
2. Resilience: The ability to recover rapidly from a setback. Every time something does not go according to plan, it can be easy to ponder on it – and make more of it than is helpful. Using insecure thinking to create ‘meaning’ can develop barriers to a successful presentation or to the efficient running of a business. For instance, maintaining composure if there is a technical problem during a presentation, and showing grace under pressure, displays a reassuring confidence in the face of adversity. This is a fantastic leadership skill to exhibit when a team, or customer, is on the verge of panic.
3. Wisdom: Have the wisdom to make good decisions, spot opportunities and create sustainable solutions. Tackling questions with ease and not getting flustered is comforting for an audience, a customer or work-team members. You don’t have to take my word for it, you will have experienced this wisdom when an answer to a question, that you had given up trying to remember, just pops into your head when you were not expecting it. As Sydney Banks says in his book ‘The Enlightened Gardener’: “…wisdom is knowledge before the contamination of human thought”. With clarity the answer will come to you – when you are washing –up, in the shower, or driving.
4. Innovation and problem solving skills: Creating innovative ways of presenting a message, is great on a stage and vital for promoting a company, with an original marketing campaign. Having the ability to generate unique options and resolve problems before they have an impact, in terms of time and money, can keep a business in business, where others may fail.
Many of my mentors have these qualities and initially I had not realised that anyone is able to develop these qualities. I love watching a person suddenly realise what is is like to be a powerful public speaker.
5. Charisma: To have the charisma to influence people and be the embodiment of your product or service. Some people can light up a room – just by leaving it! The opposite is required for an engaging speaker or sales person. An enthusiasm for your product, or service, is infectious. Enthusiasm is one of the most important aspects of a presentation, whether it is to a large audience or for a one to one sales conversation.
6. Connection: To be engaging: able to create a strong connection and caring, contributory relationships with people. Caring about the people, to whom you are talking, really cannot be faked. Having humility, especially when on stage, is so much better than showing a degree of accomplishment for being the centre of attention. I’m not saying that you behave as if you are not worthy to be there. Humility is not about thinking less of yourself, it is about thinking of yourself less. Focus on the needs of your audience, your customer and your team and people will be open to what you have to say.
7. Authenticity and integrity: Be yourself. Do not try to act in a way that you think is ‘appropriate’ for the situation, because that will cause you to ‘second-guess’ yourself. Spending time in your own head rather than being present to the people around you will distance you from your audience and distract them. You do not just live in the universe. You are a unique part of the universe. So, without any insecure thoughts, you are perfect the way you are. You have no need to be anything but your authentic self.
8. Direction, motivation and passion: Clear objectives and goals are a perfect starting point for a presentation and are essential for running a business effectively. Many people will launch off into a presentation without a proper introduction. This can leave the audience confused as to where the talk is going, while inhibiting their ability to pay attention and follow your train of thought. Confusion within a business is a recipe for failure. Large companies spend a lot of money developing and communicating their ‘Mission Statement’ and vision for their future. For small businesses and consultants, it is much easier if you are motivated by a passion and have a clear idea of your desired outcome.
• We were born with these qualities
• Only unhelpful beliefs can suppress them
• Let go of the thoughts that stop you
• Learn how to structure a presentation
• Do as much public speaking as you can
As the speaker and author Tony Jeary says, in the title of one of his book, “Life Is a Series of Presentations”.
The easiest way to effectively communicate what your business does, when face-to-face, is to have a pre-prepared audio logo.
This gives the answer to the “What you do?” question.
For many people this question is a trigger to start mumbling, to give a short answer, which does not mean much to anyone outside their industry, or go into way to much detail.
It turns out that the more you know about a subject, the weirder you sound!
The best way to answer is to have a prepared ‘Audio Logo’. This is couple of sentences that gives people enough information to know ‘what you do’ and can be a starting point for a conversation. It contains the following four sections:
I help [target market]
who [challenge/problem they face]
do/use [solution you provide]
so they can [results/outcomes you help them achieve].
You need to be clear with your message so you have credibility and the message is relevant to the person to whom you are talking.
I once heard someone respond to the question “What do you do?” with the answer, “I’m in IT”. This prompted a conversation about how ‘IT people’ have their own language.
After some coaching his new response was:
“I work with business owners and department managers, who are wasting time and money, use automated computer and voice systems so they can reduce their workload while increasing their profits.”
I witnessed one occasion where this immediately prompted a conversation about a software issue a person was experienced, and a meeting to discuss it further.
If you have a minute or so, you can use the well established seven-point marketing message. I use the following seven-point marketing structure (adding three more items to your audio logo) covers the key messages that need to be communicated. This is just as relevant to the printed word in a broacher on a web page:
1. With whom do you work? Who is your target market?
• People want to know that you are talking to them or have a message for someone they know
2. What problem do they have?
• People want to know what is in it for them.
• If they have a problem or a requirement that you can define they will believe what you have to say will be relevant.
• What is their situation?
• What specifically is their problem?
• Importantly, what are the implications in the cost of time and money that the problem causes?
3. Why are you credible? What makes you the expert?
• Your offer needs to be believable.
• You need to be credible.
• What experience, knowledge or skill do you have that gives you the ability to solve their problem or meet their requirement?
4. What process do you use?
• What can people expect if they buy your service of product?
• People like to know what their immediate future will be.
• A fear of the unknown may stop someone from buying
• Are you environmentally friendly?
5. What are the results (that solve their problems)?
• What specifically will they experience?
• What emotional rewards will they feel?
6. What success stories do you have?
• People love stories so have a couple of them prepared.
• What was their situation?
• What specifically was their problem?
• What were the implications in the cost of time and money that the problem caused?
• How did you solve their problem?
• What were the results?
7. Lastly, a call to action (booking a conversation)
• Ask for their business card
• Ask if they would like to meet. “I was wondering if you would like to meet for a coffee so we could discuss how I can help you save money”
Writing this out a few times, in the form of a coloured Mind Map, as you develop your pitch, enables you to create an image of your pitch in your mind that you will be able to deliver in a number of ways:
• A formal marketing presentation
• A one minute ‘elevator’ pitch (yes, you can cover all seven in one minute!)
• An impromptu conversation
The important thing is to cover each point, and the order does not really matter (as long as you discuss their problem before you explain how you can solve their problem).
You just have to top and tail the marketing syntax with an introduction and a summary.
There should be three sections to any presentation:
• Introduction (INTRO) – tell them what you are going to say
• Message (main body) – tell them
• Summary (including call to action) – tell them what you said
A structured ‘intro’ and a concise summary are the marks of a professional presentation.
The Introduction to a presentation.
For me, a structured introduction is the most useful thing I have learnt about giving professional presentations. It gives me a powerful start and a foundation for an effective finish. It is the time to ‘set the scene’. This could just be a few sentences something more substantial. However, there are five aspects to an introduction or intro. (INTRO).
Say something that will get their attention. A question is a very good starting point. A question, or two, will get people thinking and they will need to respond. Marketers and hypnotists refer to this as “opening a loop”. Alternatively, ask a question to which the audience would be likely to say “Yes”.
This is a good point to get people to put their hand up. The more frequently they agree with you the more likely you are to keep them engaged.
Why should they listen to you? How is it relevant to them? What problem or requirement do they have that you can solve or meet? If you make your subject relevant to your audience, they will decide for themselves that they need to listen to what you have to say.
The title of your presentation should really set the scene and link to what you have already said so far. A good example if to use a linking format like
“How to [behaviour] so you can [result]”
For instance “How to give a presentation with confidence and power so you can increase you income.”
People like to know what is going to happen in their near future. Not knowing what is coming their way can lead them to becoming distracted. By giving a short list of topics that you are going to talk about, and for how long you will be talking, you set your audience’s expectations and put people at ease.
What are your aims for your presentation? What do you want for your audience and for you?
Main body of presentation and summary.
With clear objectives and a structured introduction, the rest of the presentation is set up. After the “INTRO” you can deliver your message. Do this by opening and closing each topic, you said you would discuss (Range).
Once you have covered all the topics you can close the presentation with a summary. Just like the introduction explained what you were going say, the summary reminds your audience what you just told them and checks that you have met the objectives you stated in the introduction.
Lastly, you can take questions (be specific that you want questions not opinions) and finish with a powerful call to action and a ‘strap line’ that will leave a lasting impression. Then, after you have finished (if appropriate), you could have time for a ‘talking-shop’ where people can share their opinions and experiences.
You can find out more about this approach from my free eBook “Presentation Structure and Marketing Syntax” (see my website)
Alternatively, click here for details of some on-line training.