Speaking in Public

Written on the 29 January 2017 by Janet Culpitt


One of the most common fears or concerns that many people have when networking is having to speak in public.

You can attend a networking event and see others standing up and speaking and sounding so professional .

You get to listen to speakers who have everyone enthralled.

On the other hand you may listen to others who are criticizing whoever is speaking or listening to someone who is so nervous they and their voice, their notes are shaking,

Then all of a sudden you are asked to stand up and let the room know a little about you!!! EEEEk , panic ,sweaty hands, breathless, tongue tied , squeaky voice, whisper , and the list goes on.... !

And worse still is your handed a microphone as well  ( that is a whole other story)

For many this is confronting , scary ,and honestly quite traumatic.

Don't ever think that all others are born to be a natural speaker and you were not blessed with this gift.

It takes time , practice and also a lot of courage for most of the people all of the time.

I will be the first to admit when I first started attending networking events I was happy to be the wall flower  and loved attending events where I did not have to get up and speak to the room or be the centre of attention.

To be honest I still am not comfortable being in the spotlight and having everyone being focused on me.

I do it because I have to and especially because I have practiced , practiced , failed and sought expert guidance as the level of speaking engagements have risen in during my career.

I still do have a regular mentor and coach for my speaking , whether it's as a speaker at an event or  simply a contributor at a networking event.

To overcome being a wallflower, when out networking I found myself joining a group that was very structured.This was a blessing in disguise which I didn't realise at the time and I will be forever grateful to that group.

This meant I got to know the other members in the group and as it was a new group we were all learning about each other and all pretty ,much at the same level with having to speak.

We were give a template for a basic script to prepare our "elevator pitch" , a 1 minute introduction , and I filled in the blanks to suit me and my business.

From then on I read from that script until such time that I knew the bulk of it off by heart.

I practiced at home , in the office ,to my partner , all to get the feel for what I sounded like.

In the beginning that piece of paper the script was written on, would shake and I used to lose my place in it when looking up and down from it.

Thankfully most of the others were the same and completely understood my pain.

Over time it does get better and so do you .

Here are my favourite tips based on Fact :

* Remember you are not alone.

* Write out what you are needed to say.

* Be yourself and do in your own natural style. ( others will pick up false)

* Include your name and your business name at the beginning and the end . ( at least this is something you will not forget ..hopefully)

* write it out in large letters so you can easily look up and down from it.

* Have it in a firm notebook or  on a clip board so you have something to hang onto to reduce the shaking.

* Practice , Practice , Practice!!!

* Remember to Breathe.

* Pause for a few seconds after relevant points to allow those listening to you to hear what your saying. ( you may wish to put commas at these places on your script as a reminder)

* If you wish,  record yourself and play back to hear your pitch and tone. ( easily done on a smart phone)

This will help you not sound monotone, talking to fast or slow, or boring. Expression in your voice really helps others to hear you and take notice of what you are saying.

* Have a few  slight variations for changes of circumstances and events. ( this saves you have to do it "off the cuff" at any time and also helps you remember what to say, which lessens your nerves.

* Try various script templates ( I have these available

* Know what you want others to hear about you and your business.

Tell how you help clients , what is an ideal client ( who do you help and be specific - **not everyone), eg.Use case studies how you have helped people rather than simply trying to sell that you are the best. Know your point of difference- after all this is usually you and must be individual as you want others to hear or notice.

* Possibly approach the organiser for some advice -a good networking group leader should help you with this as they should know from past experience what and how others in the group got over this fear. They could even have member training days of sorts ( sadly these points are not always the case though I know)

* If needed, talk to me , or  talk to a professional speaking coach or mentor. It's money well spent ! Here is an example

Focus on these facts and you will achieve some Freedom from your Fears and you too will be Networking with Confidence.

Janet CulpittAuthor:Janet Culpitt
About: Janet Culpitt is a mentor for passionate SME business owners, looking to expand their business and create a successful plan for growth and sustainability. Her life long experience in the business industry and entrepreneurship, allows her to educate and lead her clients to developing impeccable skills in networking, forming long lasting connections.
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