Despite the fact there are no physical threats involved, the fear of public speaking is surprisingly common. It has been suggested that this fear is evolutionary in origin. In ancient, hunter-gatherer societies, humans survived their hostile environments by forming into groups. Thus, ostracisation from the group would typically result in death, which is perhaps why we are so afraid of being rejected by our peers we’re giving a speech in the present day.
However, for those who are able to push outside their comfort zone and master the art of public speaking, there are tremendous benefits in store. In addition to the financial rewards (which can be substantial), public speaking can boost your brand profile in the following ways.
1. Humanise your brand
Want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche? It’s a lot easier to do if you’re willing to speak in person at industry events. You can establish credibility via blogging/content marketing, but it really makes a statement if you’re prepared to stand there in person, back up your opinions and answer any questions in real time. Because the internet has made it far easier for charlatans to prosper, those who are able to step out into the real world and speak confidently on a subject they understand are infinitely more trustworthy. Even in the digital era, people still want to do business with other people, and public speaking makes you more accessible.
After you’ve given your speech, you have an excellent opportunity to move around the venue and make new business acquaintances. Since your speech (hopefully) resonated with plenty of people at the event, they will be likely to start a conversation with you. This might lead to new business deals, but more importantly, it will be the foundation for new relationships where you can talk in a low-pressure environment with no sales attempts. Relationships like these are much easier to start if you put yourself out there with public speaking, and they can be highly lucrative in the future.
3. Promote your products and services
Although speeches should be designed to provide as much value to your audience as possible (rather than self-promote), a good speech vicariously results in good promotion too. If people enjoyed your speech, they’re likely to look you up online if they feel your services could benefit them – just make sure your business site is as good as your public speaking skills! While it’s unlikely that you will receive business as a direct result of every speech, the more public speaking you do and the higher profile gigs you receive, the more your business will benefit.
4. Provide value to people
In terms of providing genuine value to people, it’s hard to beat a well researched, effectively executed speech. Not everyone has the time to read a blog post or white paper, but when you’re standing in front of someone talking passionately about a topic you understand in depth, this creates a highly visceral medium of communication. All of the senses are involved when you watch someone give a speech, and if they did a good job, it will stay in your mind for years after the event. In terms of building a brand, public speaking is a fantastic way to provide value and remain in people’s memories.
If you’re considering public speaking, the best way to get good at it is to practice – a lot. You may wish to start by finding your local Toastmasters group (it’s a great experience, I’ve done it), where you can learn to deliver speeches in a positive, encouraging atmosphere. The more speeches you deliver, the better you can diminish your evolutionary fears of public speaking and refine your content/delivery in order to make the best impact possible. Good luck – the rewards are certainly worth it!