Five Powerful Public Speaking Tips for Senior Business Leaders
Stephanie Chung, Executive Coach, Sales Mentor and Business Advisor
Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. According to Glossophobia.com, as many as 75 percent of people have the fear of public speaking. This number can be quite frightening considering we have many business executives around the world expected to lead entire companies but may hold back due to their anxiety over speaking to a room full of people.
As a sales advisor and public speaker, I have had the pleasure of speaking in front of many groups of people, from ambitious sales teams to successful executives and even packed conferences. Over the years my public speaking skills have improved drastically and helped me gain the skills necessary to succeed as a business leader and mentor.
The skills I have mastered as a public speaker comes from years of practice and many lessons learned. By practicing public speaking, you gain confidence in yourself as an expert in your craft and your ability to lead a company.
It can definitely be an intimidating position to be in if you’re not prepared in advance of your presentation. By following the list of tips below, you can combat your possible fear of public speaking and earn confidence in your ability to inform and educate a room full of colleagues and industry leaders.
1. Prevent Mistakes
If your fear of presenting stems from making mistakes like your PowerPoint failing or having your main speaking points fall flat, prepare in advance! I recommend listing your greatest fear or fears and determine how you can prevent them from occurring. Such as taking a backup USB drive, making copies of your presentation or spicing up your points with interesting facts and statistics.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
It’s always a great idea to practice your speech in front of people several times before your presentation day. Whether it’s front of your spouse, friends or co-workers, they can be hugely helpful in terms of giving valuable feedback. You may not realize how distracting certain actions may be for your audience, such as saying filler words like “um” many times or walking from one side of the room to another and not stopping. Catch these distractions early on and break those habits.
3. Share Personal Stories
Leaders are often seen as distant or hard to relate to, when in reality, they share just as many, if not more failures than they care to admit. By sharing personal or emotional stories with the audience, you are admitting mistakes and highlighting how far you’ve come; making you relatable and inspiring.
4. Answer Questions
Always be prepared to answer questions. Audience members may interrupt to ask questions or there may be many people waiting to ask questions until the end of your presentation. Be prepared to answer all kinds of questions the audience might come up with. And, if you don’t know the answer, tell them what you do know. A great strategy is to reference a question at a later time in the presentation. This shows you’re paying close attention to your audience’s concerns.
5. Practice Confident Body Language
They say actions speak louder than words. Your body language speaks volumes in terms of how you really feel at that moment in time. If you’re stressed you might rub your neck, if you’re nervous you might have shaky hands and so on. If you’re feeling nervous before speaking, be sure to take a deep breath, stand up straight and smile. While you’re speaking, make sure your hands and arms aren’t too distracting as you make your points and be sure to look at people in the eye and not just scan the audience.
By following these guidelines, you will certainly feel not only confident in your presentation, but also in yourself as a skilled speaker. Being a public speaker communicates your vast knowledge in your craft, your ability to help fulfill business needs and your impressive critical thinking and listening skills.
About the Author
Growing up in multiple military bases throughout the world, having survived breast cancer and being laid off by a company she loved, Stephanie Chung has lived and learned from some of life’s toughest challenges. But with her natural ability to own a room and create positive change, Chung used her life’s challenges to learn and become stronger, ultimately becoming a professional and inspiring leader. Backed by more than 25 years of team management, business development, and sales leadership experience, today Chung is an award-winning business coach based in Dallas. She works with leaders around the world as an executive coach, sales mentor and business advisor. Chung is also a public speaker and a contributor of The Change Book Series. For more information visit www.stephaniechung.com.