Business success depends on so many things: dogged determination, creativity, investment, and outstanding products or services.
Most important of all, though, it depends on exceptional communication. Communication can be divided into three categories: passive communication like TV and press advertising, semi-passive communication like social media and blogs, and active communication like one-to-one sales, group talks, and presentations.
Person-to-person communication is by far the most powerful and memorable, even in this era of technology. When we speak, we communicate much more than the concept conveyed by the words.
Our eyes, posture, gestures, and the tone and volume of our voice all deliver messages.
Sometimes these other messages undermine the message contained in our words; sometimes they reinforce it. When the message in the words and all those other signals are in alignment, the effect on an audience is remarkable; you could say, captivating. That is what good public speaking is all about.
Who Should You Present To
In business, nothing promotes a company better than a well-delivered presentation or talk, especially when it is delivered to key partners by the company president or another senior executive.
In addition to laying out the special features of a product or service, a good presentation, or motivational speech, builds empathy and trust in the company, and it accomplishes that better than any other form of communication.
Of course, neither speeches nor presentations directly reach as many people as advertising or social media. That is why they should be delivered only to influential audiences who can leverage their message.
A Good Talk Can Make A Big Difference
The best communicators have great on-floor charisma. It enables them establish a quasi-personal relationship with each member of an audience. When that audience comprises people capable of influencing profits, such as the company's sales personnel, big customers, and journalists, that rapport has an invaluable effect on the company's bottom line.
Few people would question how the charisma of Steve Jobs enhanced Apple's bottom line, or how Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 helped Barack Obama's campaign.
The polls confirmed the importance of that speech shortly after it was delivered. Of course, not many people have the charisma, or speech-making brilliance of Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs, and sadly, many senior business people are so terrified by the idea of public speaking that they do not invest the time needed to acquire the skills.
Public Speaking Is Feared
The fear of speaking in public, whether it is a best man's speech, a eulogy, or a corporate promotional speech, causes huge stress in many people. Having a senior executive who is afraid or unable to speak in public is a serious drawback for any company.
A worse problem though, is a senior executive who is a bad speaker and who insists on speaking nonetheless. It can seriously damage the company's image and ultimately its profitability. For the company's sake, both problems should be addressed urgently.
Though most people probably do not believe it, just about anyone can become a competent public speaker, even those most terrified at the thought.
It just takes three simple things: guidance, practice, and time.
Guidance is available from many sources including professional speech trainers and speaking clubs. A club is probably the best bet if you have the time. You will be among people with similar fears, and you can address those fears at your own pace in a safe supportive environment.
Private coaching from a speech professional is a quicker way to hone your speaking skills because you can book as many sessions as you need. At some point, however, you still have to practice in front of an audience. Clubs, which typically hold meetings every fortnight, have a different approach. They rarely provide formal training. The emphasis is on learning by observing other members, from terrified novices to confident veterans, deliver prepared speeches to the group.
Nobody is obliged to speak. Members decide for themselves when to give a speech and what to speak about. Around six people deliver speeches at each meeting. Towards the end of the meeting more experienced members evaluate each speech, pointing out what they see as the best elements and the areas which could be improved.
Even excellent speakers experience some fear; indeed, it motivates them and puts energy into their delivery. Too much fear, however, does the opposite, and it undermines the speaker's message, if detected by an audience.
Company executives, even the most successful, sell their companies short by letting fear get in the way of an uplifting speech. Over eighty years ago, in his inaugural address, President F. D. Roosevelt made the now-famous statement, "... let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Like any skill, public speaking can be learnt, mastered, and made effective. In business it can be a highly effective strategy for multiplying profits.