What are most people afraid of? According to a 2015 Chapman University study 28.4% of Americans are afraid of public speaking.
In the business community, this may not be as big of a problem. A poll of over 2,000 small business owners and professionals found 57% of respondents were “very comfortable” with public speaking. Only 5% reported a true fear of public speaking.
The truth is, many business owners and professionals understand the value of public speaking. Overcoming your public speaking anxiety can truly give you the upper hand in more ways than one.
Specifically, here are a few examples of how public speaking skills can be a personal and business asset.
Improve your elevator pitch
While it’s not quite considered as public speaking, the same principles are helpful to hone your elevator pitch. Public speaking skills can help you refine and memorize your pitch to ensure it is clear and concise. When you share your pitch it confidence it will help as you meet potential customers and network at social events and conferences.
Shine at networking events
In nearly every city there are chamber of commerce events and local meet ups where you can connect and converse with your peers. Some organizations may also offer speaking opportunities for local professionals to present their expertise to help other businesses. When you share your knowledge with confidence, you can make positive connections that may lead to customer referrals and business partnerships down the road.
Explore local marketing opportunities
Becoming a well-known face in the community by participating in local events and sponsorship opportunities. It’s a great way to build your brand. For example, if you sponsor a local sports team or professional event, you may have the opportunity to say a few words as a prominent sponsor. Impress your community with your public speaking skills, and people will remember your professionalism and poise.
Improve your selling skills
Forbes contributor Greg Satell explains, “We often treat communication as if it were a discrete act, a matter of performance or lack thereof. Yet meaning cannot be separated from context.” Communication and rapport building are essential selling skills. Public speaking will inevitably help you tackle both as you talk with potential customers, negotiate business partnerships or handle requests over the phone. Communication of your company’s value proposition is an important professional skill that will inevitably help you win more customers.
Engage your employees
Speaking at events within your own company requires a number of soft skills and the right kind of communication can motivate your team. Meanwhile, many founders are tasked with client presentations and regular staff meetings or town halls. How you speak to your employees, clients, and partners can make or break the effectiveness of your message.
Prepare for PR opportunities
Local youth organizations may be looking to interview successful small business owners as examples of entrepreneurship. A local radio show or newspaper may want a quote from a business leader about the state of the local economy or a specific market. Having good public speaking skills will prepare you to pursue these valuable PR opportunities for free exposure.
Hopefully these examples inspire you to at least try improving your public speaking abilities. You can start small by attending a meeting of a local Toastmasters group or by leading a training session for just one or two employees. Just a little bit of practice and investment in yourself will pay dividends later and help your business in so many ways.
Natalie Craigmile is a marketing manager at ProMatcher, a resource that helps home improvement contractors find marketing opportunities. She writes about small business growth from her home office in Virginia.
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