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Effective Public Speaking for Small Business Owners
by: Keith Longmire
Public speaking is comfortably the quickest and easiest way to improve your company visibility, establish yourself as an expert, get you face known and get businesses coming to you.

Most small business owners and managers fully recognise this yet even the thought of standing up in public to speak to a room full of strangers can evoke a somewhat nauseous feeling in many people.

Some of the most confident business people often do their best to avoid public speaking. But not taking advantage of every public speaking opportunity is a serious mistake.

Public speaking is great for your business in two main ways.

One - you gain face recognition, and
Two - it establishes you and your company as industry experts.

Let’s start with face recognition. This sounds like a simple thing, but don't discount its importance. Imagine you are at an industry trade show. You are side by side with another company in the exhibit hall. You sell basically the same product.

But you are delivering the keynote speech at the conference. Your picture, name and company is on each of the entry-way signs into the conference center.

Which company are attendees at the conference (who, by the way, are qualified prospects) likely to visit?

Odds are they will stop at your stand.

Even people who are just walking by may stop to talk to the person they saw speak at a conference session. Sometimes that's all the edge you need to make that lucrative sale.

The other reason they decide to stop is they recognise you as the industy expert. You must be. How else did you get invited to give the prestigious keynote speech? The prospects assume you know your business or you wouldn’t have been invited to speak at the conference.

This is true regardless of industry. If you are a psychologist with a local practice and people see you speak at a conference, or even at a local Rotary meeting, they will begin to see you as an industry expert. Should the occasion arise for that person to need to visit a psychologist, or to refer a colleague or friend, your name may come to mind simply because they’ve seen you before.

It is important, however, that if you decide to take public speaking engagements, that you deliver a good speech.

The good news is that you don't have to be perfect. In fact, usually public speakers do not have to be particularly good to be a great success. Your audience is usually more than half on your side. They want you to do well.

And providing you deliver good, solid content in a professional manner your audience will leave well satisfied.

But be prepared.

There is nothing worse than letting a prospect see you give a less than well prepared speech. If your lack of preparedness causes you to pause a lot, stumble over sections of presentation, or fumble with slides or other presentational aids, that will give you the air of incompetence just as surely as a well prepared and delivered presentation will give you the air of expertise.

Here are my top 7 tips for preparing presentations.

1. Choose 3 or 4 key topics - no more.
2. Make sure your have researched your content.
3. Write a script - you may not need to use it but the act of writing out a script is a great way for getting your thoughts and ideas straight.
4. Structure your speech around your core topics. Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end.
5. Make sure your presentational aids are prepared well in advance. Test them in the conference hall.
6. Rehearse - words that look great on paper often don't flow well when spoken aloud.
7. Rehearse again.

Just as much as being seen and heard can gain you recognition and business, being seen and heard giving a poor presentation can lose you business.

So you may want to look into taking a few public speaking courses to brush up on your skills.

Public Speaking may well seem like a lot of effort and trouble. It might even cause you enormous personal anxiety. But there is not doubt that it is worth the time and energy it takes any manager or business owner to give public speaking presentations.

There are few better ways to gain recognition for your name, company and to establish yourself as the obvious expert in your industry.

About the author:
Keith Longmire is the owner of JKL Business Growth Solutions. JKL specialises in bringing main stream business improvement and marketing solutions into the reach of smaller businesses. His website http://www.jkl-small-business-marketing-solutions.comhas been designed to help owner-managers cut through the hype and produce innovative marketing plans that deliver results.

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