Entrepreneurs often find themselves speaking in front of others. From customer meetings to pitching competitions to seminars, public speaking is essential for growing your business. You need to be able to speak about what your company does and what it can bring to the table in order to attract investors and win clients. We brought in speaking coach Julia Beauchamp for a recent Yodlee Incubator bootcamp to teach that becoming an inspiring speaker not only encourages people to listen to you but spurs them to take action. No one is born the perfect public speaker. In fact, most are terrified at the notion of having to speak in front of a group of people. The good news, though, is that you can learn how to be an inspiring speaker. Through practice, feedback and training, anyone can become effective and authoritative. As an entrepreneur, you are an expert in your field. Let that come through in your public speaking with these 3 tips.
1. Get Skilled at Improvisation
Improvisation is not just for students in drama class; everybody uses it every day. In order to carry on a conversation, you must use improvisation. You do not study what you’re going to say when you ask someone how their day is; instead, you naturally react to their response. Likewise, in order to become an effective speaker, you need to be comfortable with speaking off the cuff. By learning to speak without prepared lines, you set yourself up as an expert with your more casual tone. Too much preparation sounds mechanical and inauthentic to the audience, especially in high-stakes situations. A good handle on improvisation also helps when situations do not go as planned. Things change all the time, people ask questions you do not expect, situations may arise that you have not planned for. In that sort of situation, thinking on your feet is crucial. For the entrepreneur, how an investor or customer perceives you is critical. How you speak is far more important than what you actually say. A casual improvisational tone is more engaging than an over-rehearsed tone and gets your audience to like you. In the 1970’s a groundbreaking study showed just how important speaking style is. Called the “Dr. Fox Effect” this work has continued to be tested in subsequent years. In the study, both an expert and an actor, introduced as an expert, gave lectures on a particular topic. Both speakers gave the lecture in a monotone inexpressive voice and separately in an expressive and engaging manner. The actor was rated just as highly as the expert in the more expressive engaging talk. This effect goes to show how much all of the non-verbal cues matter in public speaking. Engage the audience and have a relaxed and confident style through improvisation to set yourself as an expert.
2. Bring Energy to Your Speaking Style
When you speak in front of an audience, whether a small group or a large room, it is not an everyday conversation. It requires higher energy than conversation does. When you bring more energy to your speech, you get more of the audience focus. You become the most interesting thing in the room, which gives credibility and authority. People want to follow leaders that are certain and energy gives you the air of certainty they want. It is important to calibrate the energy based on your audience. A good rule of thumb is 5-10% more energy than the audience in your room. Too much energy typically comes across as insincere and over the top, but not enough energy loses your credibility as an expert and the audience may lose enthusiasm in your topic. It is possible to project energy no matter the situation through body language. If you are sitting, sit tall, uncross your arms and slightly bring out your chest to project energy. Likewise, standing tall in a natural pose and using movement makes you a more captivating speaker. Bringing energy to public speaking is exhausting, so building stamina and practicing are important. However, being aware of the energy you bring to your speaking style makes others more interested and engaged.
3. Know Your Somatic
In Greek, soma refers to the body. Thus, somatic refers to the body language you project when you speak. If you are going to have better improvisation and energy, you need better non-verbal communication. Some examples of non-verbal communication include:
- Eye contact
- Hand gestures
- Spatial awareness (how you move around the room)
- Vocal intonation
- The clothes you wear
All of these things build the perception the audience has of you. Do you look professional, are you excited about what you are speaking about, are you confident? All of these questions are answered with your non-verbal communication, which can be much more influential than what you say. In order to be an effective public speaker, train your body to be in connection with what you say. Engage your body with your audience to hold their attention and spur them to action. Tony Robbins is a prime example of connecting his body with his speaking style. Whether you love or hate the substance, his speaking engages and motivates thousands at a time. His rituals include striking power poses and bouncing on a trampoline before going on stage. These are great examples of getting out of your head and loosening your body so it can connect with your speaking. As Julia reminded us, public speaking is vital to growing and running an effective start-up. By learning improvisation, bringing energy to your talk and engaging your body, you can become a more effective and successful speaker. Interested in learning more from Julia? Set up a meeting with her here. If you would like to learn more about the Envestnet | Yodlee Incubator, visit our website here or check out the highlights for this year’s program here. If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea to leverage financial transaction data, applications for our next cohort are now open. You can apply here. Applications close September 14th, 2018 for the class beginning in January 2019.