Public Speaking: Life Goes On

May 7th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

At a networking meeting, a young woman was getting ready to do her 10-minute BNI presentation on her business. She had done her homework, and was well prepared.  Previously, she had confided in me that she dreaded public speaking, but knew it was a “necessary evil” if she wanted to grow her business through networking.

She had heard me doing a persuasion speech on sales, and she said she was going to apply that strategy to public speaking. This was the crux of the strategy:

Before the sales appointment, you must CARE enough to research your prospect, and prepare for questions and roadblocks. However, during your presentation, you must not feel you NEED this particular piece of business. You must know that life goes on either way. You must feel that you would like the business, but you will be fine either way. Sales guru Carl Harvey shared this philosophy with me, and it works. It frees you to simply relax, establish a relationship, and enjoy the process.  It makes you feel and appear more confident, and subtly communicate that you offer something they need. You also avoid looking like the desperate salesperson.

This woman applied that philosophy to her speech. She had, in essence, over prepared, but moments before she was on, she adopted an attitude that this presentation would neither make or break her; so she might as well have fun.

Her presentation exceeded even her own expectations. She was natural, funny, and on target.

What happened? The problem is that presenters get nervous because they care TOO MUCH about how they appear before their audiences. By “too much” I mean that the pressure actually hurts their natural ability to communicate.  It makes them shaky, stiff and monotone. Most presenters’ main roadblock is their own psychology. By adopting the attitude “this presentation will not really change my life in any significant way,” you mitigate the exaggerated pressure you have fabricated.

What a great application of a sales strategy to public speaking!

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