Channel Your Inner Superwoman
I attended one of my favourite networking groups today, this particular group always attracts a high number of ‘newbies’ and by that I mean people who are new to networking, or just recently set up in business. They are usually people who have experienced little speaking in public and maybe this is their first time actually standing up to face and talk to a large group of people. This can be a terrifying ordeal for someone who has never done this before. It does get easier as time goes on but those initial meetings can be nerve wracking and our confidence can feel like it has deserted us.
I love to give value when networking and try to give a tip or two to help people who want to get to grips with speaking in public, so this meeting was a gift. I was, in this instance almost last to speak and deliver my pitch, so I was able to observe and take a mental note of all of the people speaking. A very interesting exercise from my point of view. A theme developed of lack of eye contact and way too many ums and ers as people shared their business pitches.
Here are my three tips to help you be an instantly more effective speaker and networker:
Raising our personal energy is vital if we want to come across positively, we can do this as both an internal and an external process. I call this channeling our own individual ‘Superwoman’.
Internally: We can make sure our inner talk supports who and what we want to be, so how are you speaking to yourself? Do you tell yourself things like “I bet I muck this up, I hate speaking to a group, I hate the sound of my voice …… “. Not very encouraging is it? Would you speak to someone else in this undermining way? Where are your own positive words of encouragement? Instead, try to be more positive with your inner talk. Turn those fear thoughts into excitement. “Wow! How exciting, I am going to be able to speak about my business with a wonderful group of people. These are just regular people and I am just going to share my business with them…….this feels good. I am powerful, who knows where this will lead?”.
Externally: Fake it till you become it – the words of Amy Cuddy. She talks about holding power poses to alter the brains chemistry, lower cortisol and raise testosterone. It changes the way you behave and interact with people. Look at Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on the subject. Well worth viewing.
Make sure you wear something you look fabulous in, a colour that suits you and you love. It creates a great visual impact. Consulting with an image consultant will help you to get this right. Smile when you stand up to speak, and when you speak, and do stand up, it gives you greater volume and presence in your voice. Smiling when you speak will also bring energy and vitality to your voice.
Making gentle eye contact establishes trust and connection with those listening to you. Let your eye drift to someone near you for a few seconds, then maybe someone mid-way down the room and then someone towards the back. The magical thing is that those sitting around the person you look at feel as if you are looking at them and they start to feel part of what you are saying and so you can be more effective.
Eradicating the ums and ers:
We will never completely eradicate all the ums and ers, but we can become aware of them and decide we would like to reduce them as much as possible. Why are ums and ers so bad for us as speakers? Too many ums undermine our value and credibility. The ums and ers do serve a purpose for new speakers in that they are the moments when our brain is trying to catch up with what we are saying. Giving us time to retrieve information. If we exchange the um or er for a pause just to take a breath and slow down, we give the listener time to think about what we are saying and make some sense of it.
These three small things mount up to something big and can help you be so much more effective and influence people around you into wanting to listen and more importantly wanting to come and speak with you about your business.
Public speaking is an art and takes time to master, but it’s not impossible for even the most nervous speaker to become a clear and effective communicator.
If you would like some help with speaking in public I have workshops running in Tunbridge wells, Chatham and London. You can find out more here.
If you want to improve your networking skills Emma Cox and myself run a workshop to help you with network techniques. Find out more here.