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Brian Basilico: Glossophobia … Don’t Fear The Speaker


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Leap of Faith

Why is it that some people will jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but can’t stand the thought of giving a presentation in front of a crowd?

I personally have acrophobia, the fear of heights; yet, I’ve always wanted to jump out of an airplane. I’ve never, however, had a fear of speaking in front of large crowds. This is probably because ever since I was a little kid, I have been into entertaining, and have been a performing musician all of my life.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It can be so severe that some people actually fear speaking more than they do death. Psychology Today has published articles about this exact phobia. You can learn to deal with this fear head-on which is a good thing, because speaking in business is not only an awesome way to promote your product and services, but it’s downright necessary in most instances.

Business Relationships

Relationships are the currency of business. If you want to grow your business, you have to grow your relationships. One of the best ways to grow relationships is to start networking. Get out there and meet people. It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert, at some point in time you’re going to have to speak to someone. You might even have to speak to a group of people to grow your business.

In her book “Kill The Elevator Speech“, Felicia Slattery talks about how you can create conversations by simply asking these five words, “How … Did … You … Get … Started?” The whole purpose of that phrase is to take the onus off of you to perform, and to put it on the person that you’re speaking with. People love to talk about themselves, and you’re handing them a hall pass to do just that by asking the question.

Even if you want to “Kill The Elevator Speech”, there are still times when you have to stand up and say “Hi, my name is Brian with B2B Interactive Marketing, and I help people grow their businesses by utilizing the Internet.” In most business and social networking opportunities, you have to have some kind of prepared presentation to be able to communicate who you are and what you do.

Speak Up

Here are some examples of how public speaking is utilized in business:

  • The 30 to 60 second elevator speech
  • The 5 to 15 minute business overview presentation
  • The 30 to 60 minute business training presentation or motivational speech
  • The 1 to 8 hour full-blown training course

Look at each of these as a way to promote your business, and then it’s not too hard to master the concepts. These are going to help you to build friendships, develop clients and grow your business.

Master The Speech

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a 30 second elevator speech or a full eight-hour training class, by using the following formula, you will be better prepared, curb your fear, and will in turn deliver great presentations.

  • Prepare – It may sound simple, but you must have a concept of what you want to say and what you want out of the presentation. Are you simply trying to inform people about who you are and what you do, or are you trying to make a sale? The latter requires you to have some kind of offer at the end. It could be as simple as join my email list, or buy my product or service now.
  • Write It Out – The first thing you have to do is outline the content that you’re trying to present. Your opening should not start with “Hi … my name is … and my business is.” It should include an icebreaker, which could be in the form of a joke or a story, and it should grab peoples’ attention and make them want to continue listening. Consider that the headline of your presentation. Next part is up to you. You can write it out word for word or just work off your outline. Make sure that it has all the key components of an opening, compelling content and a strong close.
  • Practice – Next, you want to rehearse what you are going to say. One of the best ways to do this is to record it. You can use a camcorder or your laptop to record your presentation. Either way, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just watch it as if you were a member of the audience. Would you be interested in what that person has to offer? Is the content audience-focused and relevant? And finally, is there a compelling reason to do business with this person?
  • Revise – Based on whatever feedback you get from yourself or from others (if you have the chance to share with others), go back and revise your content to make it stronger. Make sure you have the key components of a great opening, great content and a strong close. Then, go back and practice it again.
  • Deliver – No matter how you may feel about the content and your presentation style, JUST DO IT! Being a musician, I have the mindset of … every time I get to perform is another opportunity to rehearse and get feedback. Do your best and ask people (especially those you know in the audience) what they thought of it, and ask them for honest feedback of how you can improve! Don’t take feedback too personally. Listen with an open, honest, and critical ear for ways that you can continue to make your presentation(s) better.

There is an old musician joke that goes “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? … Practice, practice, practice!” It’s the same thing with public speaking. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get with it. The more you do it, the more you can garner feedback and improve it. The more you do it, the less intimidating it becomes.

Finally, if you want to use a great resource that will help you improve your public speaking, check out Toastmasters International. These are clubs of people who are all trying to overcome their fear of speaking, because they realize that public speaking is an incredible tool to help promote themselves, their businesses, and offers them a platform to create new and awesome relationships.

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