We are always looking for that silver bullet – that one thing that will get us in the prospect’s door and close the deal. Or better yet, that will have the prospect beating down our door. Well I won’t go so far to say that I have the silver bullet. But I can tell you with a high level of confidence, and proof, the single best way to differentiate yourself in the eyes of your prospects is through Public Speaking.
Now if you are like most people, those two words probably sent a shiver down your spine. Public speaking is the number one fear for Americans (fear of death is second). But this is exactly why it is such a great opportunity to differentiate you and your company! Speaking gives you the opportunity to position yourself as an expert, build credibility, and convey your message to a captive audience.
In many ways, speaking is the complete opposite of cold calling:
- You are one speaking to many, whereas in cold calling you are just part of the crowd calling on one person
- When you speak, you create demand for your service. When you cold call, the demand is for their business
- Speaking immediately positions you with high credibility (which is yours to lose). Cold calling positions you initially with no credibility (which you work to gain)
I’ve been speaking for about 15 years, and it has allowed me to differentiate myself from my competitors and land new customers. I certainly didn’t start out as a professional speaker, and I am always striving to improve. But here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way that can help you get up to speed quickly.
1. Join Toastmasters – Absolutely the best way to hone your speaking skills (including getting rid of those “umms”) and build confidence.
2. Pick a topic – What are you an expert in that your prospects and client want to know? Talk about interviewing techniques, how to recruit and retain employees, employment trends, etc.
3. Start small – volunteer to speak to as many small groups as possible. This will give you practice in a less intimidating environment.
4. Speak regularly – Speaking is not like riding a bike, but more like golf or tennis. Too much time in between speaking engagements can make you rusty, and brings back more of the nerves
5. Offer freebies – Let the audience know that they can have your presentation and/or other materials if they give you their business card. Not only does this get you their information, but as importantly it gives you the opportunity to interact with attendees after your speech
6. Know your stuff – The easiest way to reduce nervousness is by practicing and really knowing your content.
Ultimately, you just have to get out there and try it. You’ll find quickly that effective public speaking is the best way to differentiate yourself and drive new business.
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