Business speakers take many forms and work in different ways. You have keynote speakers that introduce conferences, motivational speakers that impart their wisdom on other business professionals, and speakers at trade shows that get up on stage and promote their company.
Some people are born excellent business speakers. They have no trouble getting up and talking in front of hundreds of people. Other people don’t quite have the natural talent for it, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. If you feel like your business speaking isn’t going as well as it could, then here are some tips to help you improve:
Avoid being too robotic and formal
Sure, most business speakers will perform at formal events. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be strictly formal at all times. A lot of you may be struggling to open up as a professional speaker and really break free from your formal bounds. What I mean is that you’re too robotic! Everything you say is read off prompt cards, you have a strict format that you stick to, and you don’t appeal to the human side of your audience.
Yes, prompt cards help you remember your lines. Of course, having a format helps bring structure to your performance. However, don’t get carried away and force yourself to be set in your ‘business mode.’ Instead, relax a little bit! Remember, your audience is human, and they don’t really want to sit through some boring talk that’s overly professional and makes them feel like they’re at a lecture.
So, appeal to their human side. Talk in a friendly tone and make them feel welcome. Don’t be afraid to crack a couple of jokes here and there to make them laugh as well. Speak as though you’re having a chat with one of your friends – only you’re talking to hundreds of different people. If you have a more relaxed manner, then it helps your audience relax and enjoy what you have to say.
Arm yourself with good visuals
The best speakers are ones who captivate the audience and keep them engaged. From a business standpoint, you need your audience to hang onto your every word and really take something away from your talk. Well, not ‘something’ you have specific goals with the talk that you wish to achieve.
As such, things go much better when you have something to help you increase engagement and ensure people actually take a lot away from your speech. A visual presentation on a screen behind you will work wonders here. Create slides to help enhance your speech and provide another way for the audience to understand what you’re saying. Realistically, every professional speaker should know about Beautiful.AI and other presentation software as it will help you devise the perfect accompaniment to your speech. The beauty of presentations is that the visuals don’t just help your audience – they help you too. If you get stuck or your brain freezes, then you have a prompt on the screen for you to use and get back on track.
If you really want to go the extra mile, then consider sending people the slides so they can look over them in their spare time. In fact, this is a cheeky way to get some contact details; tell everyone if they leave their email address with you that you will send over the slides!
Make sure you practice
Some professional speakers don’t practice their presentations, then walk onto a conference stage and give an incredible speech that gets a standing ovation. But, the majority of people that don’t practice will end up bombing hard on stage.
You can’t replicate the feeling of speaking in front of hundreds of people. However, you can practice your speech over and over until everything feels natural to you. This helps your presentation flow so much better than if you had zero practice. It can help you cut down on all your um’s and err’s, which makes you a lot easier to listen to.
Most importantly, it just fills you with more confidence. There’s nothing worse than going in blind and not knowing how long your speech will take or how well it flows. If you practice in front of a handful of people, then they can tell you if it’s too long, and so on. You also get an idea of which jokes work, which parts can maybe be cut out, etc. Then, when the actual performance comes around, you’re well-prepared and ready to give an excellent talk.
Ask for feedback
Feedback is possibly the best way for you to continue improving as a business speaker. If you’ve given talks in the past, then ask people for feedback on them. Tell them to be honest because you want to improve and make your next talk even better.
At any future performances, you should have ways for people to give anonymous feedback to you. Perhaps you could create a feedback form and print loads out for people to pick up and write on as they make their way out of the talk. Or, you could email people – if you have their details – asking them for feedback.
It doesn’t really make a difference how you get feedback, you just need to use it to improve your next talk. If people say that you spoke too quickly, then you have that to work on. If they say that it lasted too long, then you know to cut down your next one. Listen to your audience as it will help you develop into the best speaker you can possibly be.
Whether you’re a keynote speaker, a motivational speaker, or any other type; you’ll benefit from this advice. The final thing to add is that it gets easier the more you do it. Don’t be disheartened if your first few talks don’t go as planned. Keep at it, and you’ll get more comfortable as you start delivering more talks. Pay attention to the feedback you receive, and keep all the other tips in mind as well.