Engaging an audience during a business speech is easier said than done. For many, speaking in public is terrifying, so very few entrepreneurs are willing to get out of their comfort zone, deal with their fears and make an attempt to master such challenging art. Unfortunately, in today’s social media world, you can’t run a successful business if you’re not a good speaker. You will be compelled to bargain with suppliers, employees and investors, so having sound speaking abilities is vital. The trick is to keep your cool; here are some critical things one must never say during a business speech.
‘Testing! Testing! Can you hear me?’
Do you want to make a fool of yourself from the first 5 seconds? Nowadays, technology is more advanced than ever before, so you’ve got nothing to worry about. Everyone can hear you just fine. Check your microphone before the conference or meeting begins. Tapping the microphone and saying things like ‘can the people in the back hear me?’ is too cliché. Walk on the stage with confidence and open up a conversation with poise and professionalism. It’s a smart way of grabbing attention and engaging the audience.
‘I didn’t have enough time to prepare’
Never begin a public speech with an excuse. The audience will immediately lose interest and you won’t be able to make them interested. It doesn’t matter how you feel; as long as you can find a way to get passed your personal emotions, you have high chances of delivering an interesting presentation. If you’re at a business conference and you must talk about your company’s products, don’t display your boredom – ‘I know, I know you’re tired of these products but I’m still presenting them to you’. This is not a very smart way of boosting sales.
‘Next year I plan on…’
Don’t make promises you don’t know if you can keep. If your product has not yet been released, try not to say that it will come up next year and that it will be great. You don’t know that; many things can happen in a year, and if something bad happens you’ll end up disappointing a lot of people. It’s ok to talk about your company’s new products, but do it when they’re completed and pending release. People are not interested in the hopes and dreams of the public speaker. They want to hear useful, practical information.
Fillers such as ‘umm…’, ‘aaa…’ and others, must be avoided at all costs during a public speech. They only show that you’ve come unprepared and that you feel insecure. These words can interfere with the eloquence of your public speech, and they’re pretty distracting too. When a public speaker is stuck and doesn’t know what to say, he must not turn to ‘umm…’ because he will lose his audience’s interest. If you’re stuck, you can always say it out loud. ‘This is embarrassing, I just forgot what I was about to say’ – say this with a smile on your face and you’ll make your audience laugh. Laughter keeps people engaged, always remember that.
Avoid PowerPoint presentations with too much text
Public speaking should be about speaking not reading. Avoid visual presentations with too much text because your audience will get bored really fast. Come prepared, be spontaneous, and feel confident. People want to see you speak, they want to hear you share ideas and insights about your business. Public speaking is about advertising yourself, not about demonstrating your PowerPoint skills.
‘Shut off your phones please!’
You can’t ask your audience to shut off their devices because they won’t do it. Nowadays, people don’t just use a mobile device to talk on the phone. They use itto stay active on social media, adhere to a schedule, make appointments, and so on. If your audience is not paying attention to what you’re saying, it’s probably because your speech is not that interesting. Find a way to grab their attention and share valuable information that can convince them to ditch their devices for the duration of your speech.
Holding a presentation in front of 100 people is not that difficult. The difficult part is to make those 100 people pay attention to what you’re saying. The secret to a successful business speech is to be yourself. Share useful information, relax and have fun!