Push Past Public Speaking Fear

(I wrote this article for Cascade Business News (a local publication in my town of Bend, Oregon), which printed this week and thought you might find it useful, too.)

The last time I did a pro-bono 20-minute presentation for a networking organization, I had one person slip me their card on my way back to my seat and two more emails in my inbox when I started work the next morning, all inviting me to work on projects with them. That “free” presentation turned into hundreds of dollars worth of paid work the following day.

And it’s not just me who has this experience.

Lynn Wenger, founder & web developer for webprodigy.com, had three new website development clients before she even finished her community education program on How to Build Your Own Website.

I’m just sayin’… I know that speaking can be scary (it’s the number one fear for people in national polls), but it’s worth it to look that fear right in it’s gnarled up little face, give it a smile and nod, and get on stage (or in front of the room, more likely) anyway.

Here’s more on why:

People work with people that they know, like and trust. When you offer up your expertise for people to listen to and use (even for free), they get a taste of your style, your level of knowledge, and your humanity. If you do a good job with the presentation (more on this next time), then they feel connected to you. Think of that – all in one fell swoop of a short presentation, you have created a sense of connection with a whole roomful of people. That’s some powerful groundwork toward new business.

Your potential clients are looking for solutions to their problems. Seriously, we’re all searching for the answers, aren’t we? Like I need to organize my daughters’ clothes in a way better system! If someone stood in the front of a room and gave me real, actionable, valuable information about how I might be able to do that (just as an example – calling all organizers!) there is a good chance I’d hire them to come show me at my house – or possibly even do it for me. What can you give away in a talk that would inspire someone to hire you for the next level of service?

Creating a presentation makes you a way better business-person, no matter what your topic area. To create a great presentation, you have to hone in very specifically on your message. You need to be able to name the problem you solve, say succinctly and powerfully what you can do to help and offer uber-clear suggestions for action. That kind of extreme clarity gets integrated into your day-to-day marketing and business practice to your benefit.

I guarantee that you will feel the benefit of pushing through your fear of public-speaking and getting out there with your well-crafted message in many parts of your business. You will almost certainly get new clients as an immediate result and the confidence and clarity you experience after the process will have a long-lasting energizing effect on so many aspects of your business.

Go ahead, feel the fear, smile and nod, then get on up there and say it!