You’ve heard this public speaking tip: If you’re nervous, picture the audience members in their underwear. This notion is intended to give the speaker a surge of confidence, but if you’re building a brand and you recognise the importance of public speaking, we have some advice that you will find more helpful. So let your audience get dressed and we’ll get started.
Building a Brand through Public Speaking
At How to Build a Brand, we’ve talked about building lots of positive visibility and also about building touchpoints around your products and services. If you’re wondering how you can best accomplish these things, the answer is likely to include public speaking.
We’ve also talked about building a brand by putting it front of all the right people – your target audience. What better way to do that than to take the advice literally…to organise a group of your ideal clients and put you (the best representative of YOUR brand) in front of them?
Most of you understand this premise; however, most of you also have some qualms about public speaking. There’s lots of practical advice out there (not excluding “picture the audience in their underwear”), but sometimes that practical advice has the tendency to bury you too deeply in the cerebral aspects of public speaking. It doesn’t leave enough room for the heart to shine.
No matter if you’re getting ready for your first or your one-hundredth speaking event, the best advice that I can offer is to speak from your heart. You have built your brand around what you believe in…what you love. When you speak about the subject of your brand, emotions are bound to bubble up. So why not use those emotions – that love for your brand – to touch your audience, to tell a story, to deliver a message, and to make your brand memorable? When you speak from the heart, the content will flow. If you allow your head to get involved, the nerves will start to grow.
That’s my number-one piece of advice; however, there are a few other things I’d like to touch on regarding building a brand with public speaking. The next time you schedule a speaking event, put these tips into practice:
- Remember to fill the audience’s need(s). Your goal should be that they leave the event feeling fulfilled (which will, in turn, aid in building a brand).
- Practice (but don’t memorise) your presentation at home. Record it. Note the things that you like and the things you should change.
- Identify your strengths and utilise them on stage. No matter if that’s humour, empathy, storytelling, drama…use what comes naturally and you and your audience will feel at ease.
- Do your best to eliminate all signs of nervousness. This includes not announcing your nervousness (via words) to your audience – and it also includes avoiding nervous body language. Open up your torso; that means no hunched shoulders or crossed arms. Stand tall. Make your thumbs (your power digits) visible when appropriate. Point your feet toward the people you’re speaking to. Smile genuinely; a contrived smile is worse than no smile at all.
- Visit the venue before the speaking engagement. Get on the stage and test the sound equipment if possible. Get comfortable.
- Study great public speakers. Just as you’ll improve your game by watching professional athletes, you’ll improve your public speaking by watching the best.
- Create an onstage persona that you can slip into. This will help tremendously with shedding inhibitions.
- Take some pressure off yourself by giving your message (rather than yourself) centre stage.
- Make eye contact as your gaze moves around the room. People will feel inclined to focus on you and will feel that you are completely focussed on them.
- Bring your energy with you. If your brand isn’t about kinetic energy, then bring your quiet energy with you. Either way, bring it and they’ll feel it.
- Avoid speaking too quickly. Speak slower than you feel is natural and you’ll not only control your own nervousness, you’ll portray a self-fulfilling impression of calm. This is important because if the audience sees that you’re steadfast in your comfort with your brand, than they will adopt that same comfort (and trust).
- Picture yourself rocking the room (either literally or subtly). This is the power of positive thinking, and it works. It opens the pathways through which you will make the decisions that will lead to success.
- Smile, even before you start speaking. When you walk into the room, when you mingle, when you’re saying personal goodbyes. Let your excitement to be there be known.
- Most importantly, be yourself. Your brand is amazing because it’s yours. Believe this and others will, too.
Always remember that every speaking engagement is an opportunity, an experience, and a next step. You will connect with ideal clients in a way that is unique to all others. Don’t miss this opportunity for building a brand - just make sure your audience has their clothes on.
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