Why Do I Need to be a Public Speaker?

I’m often asked, “Why do I need to be a public speaker? I provide such and such a service or I sell this and that”. This question is actually pretty easy to answer. I tell the person asking the question to substitute “Public Speaking” with the word “Communication”. Then re-ask the question “Why is communication a valuable skill for business owners?”
Whether you are communicating externally to clients and customers, or internally to staff and workers, the price of “miss-communication” is too high. A study conducted by SIS International, a global marketing research company revealed that 70% of small to mid-size companies consider ineffective communication to be their primary problem. SIS’s research further shows that a business with 100 employees will, on average, experience 17 hours a week clarifying, correcting, and other-wise managing miss-communication. This amounts to an annual cost to a business of $528,443.
Kept in mind that the findings by SIS only study the cost of internal miss-communication. What if you miss-communicate with a client or customer? Will they use you again? George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred”.
Let’s look at the question from another perspective. “How can public speaking help an owner build his or her business?” Believe it or not, this too has a ready answer. To be a success, to grow your business, you need to stand out from the pack. You need to differentiate yourself and your business from the competition. Most business arenas are crowded. There are few “unique” businesses, and those that are, if they’re successful, will soon have plenty of competition.
To standout, you need to do several things. First and foremost, you need to be able to communicate your product or service with clarity and focus. I do a lot of networking (another thing that requires good communication skills). People often ask me “How will I know if someone needs your speech coaching services? I usually tell that that if someone tells them what they do or sell, and when they’re done, you still don’t know, they need to talk with me. Let’s face it. If you can’t tell someone what you do, they will buy from someone else.
Another thing you need to do in order to standout is to become known as the expert. The person people remember when the need for your product or service comes up. This is best done by not only communicating your message with clarity and focus, but by presenting. Yes, this does sound more like “public speaking”, but it is really just another forum for communication. You don’t need to “present” to large groups (although you certainly can). Groups can be two or three people, maybe 10 or 20. Find opportunities to stand up and expound on your expertise (not by boasting, but by providing valuable information and insight). It doesn’t have to be lengthy and it doesn’t necessarily have to be to people who are the immediate purchases of your product or services. After all, the best way to get new business is by people who trust you to be the most knowledgeable referring you to someone who does need your product or service.
Okay, I’ve told you what you need to do; but you’re scared. You have a fear of public speaking. What to do, what to do?
Most people fear getting called on to speak; and why wouldn’t they? They’re probably not prepared. Abe Lincoln was quoted as saying, “Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax”. I think it’s pretty clear what he meant. As the Boy Scouts say “Be Prepared”. The best weapon to have in your arsenal is preparation. Know what you are going to say, and how you are going to say it. This takes time and it takes work. However, think of it as an investment in your success.
The preparation of any presentation is a process that can be taught or learned. Just like anything else, it can be broken down, step by step, and practiced until you know it cold.
One thing to remember – you are not simply “speaking”. You’re communicating. Communicating with clarity and focus. If you are the business owner who can communicate effectively and efficiently, you’ll be ahead of the competition.

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