My first public speech, sort of, and why it didn’t go well
I can recall one of my first times at a podium. I had been asked to introduce the speaker at a monthly association lunch meeting. My first mistake was not practicing the introduction by reading it aloud in advance to get comfortable with the words.I stumbled a few times and um’d and ah’d my way through it. After the lunch an audience member came up to me and handed me her business card. She said she represented a public speaking coach and told me I desperately needed help.
I didn’t like her approach, but I did take the feedback to heart. I never hired the coach, but did do some self examination and worked on my speaking skills.
Silence is golden
Some believe that the ums and ahs or other filler words that your mouth uses while your brain processes what to say next are okay. Apparently they help the listener understand that what comes next is an important point. I believe there are more effective ways to emphasize your points.One technique is to pause for a few seconds (silence) while your brain catches up. This gives the listener time to reflect and process what you just said so they are ready for your next point. Sometimes people like to take notes, too and this gives them time to jot something down without missing your next statement.
If you’re curious about your own speaking style and want to polish up your skills, and you haven’t watched or listened to a recording of yourself speaking in public, you might want to consider asking a friend to record you. You might be surprised at the result.
Smooth presentations don’t irritate the buyer
How do your speaking skills impact your sales presentations? There are many obstacles to overcome when you’re making your sales presentation. One of them doesn’t need to be irritating your prospective buyer with a choppy dialogue.
Practice makes perfect. Just like I could have benefited by practicing the speaker introduction in advance, you will get much more comfortable when you practice your speech or presentation. One thing that helps me is to do it in front of a mirror, and if I have the opportunity, I also record my practice session.
You don’t need to be the world’s top orator to build rapport, but good public speaking skills can help you deliver a smooth, confidence inspiring presentation. The confidence you exude can instill confidence in your prospect, too.
Willis Turner is President & CEO of Sales & Marketing Executives International, Inc. (SMEI), the worldwide professional association for sales & marketing.