This interview with Carrie was conducted by Margarida Bonito at London Business Coaching.
You said you used to run a conference business but had a fear of public speaking – is that true?
Yes, I used to have a big fear of public speaking, which was difficult as I was the Director of a conference company and was expected to be able to introduce speakers at conferences, manage teams of staff and present to the board. I remember one year my friend asked me to give a speech at her wedding and I spent the whole year fretting about it and trying to find excuses to get out of it! In the end I did it, but was so nervous that I couldn’t enjoy the wedding at all. After that, I decided to crack my fear of public speaking. I didn’t want it to hold me back any more, so I spent 5 years building up my speaking confidence and studying what it takes to become an amazing public speaker.
I now do it for a living and have grown to love it! I decided to dedicate my career to helping others overcome fear of public speaking. I’m passionate about helping people build public speaking confidence because it opens a lot of new doors for people, particularly when it comes to business. It’s a real game changer…
How is public speaking a game changer in business?
Being able to inspire, influence and engage people in your vision is critical if you’re an entrepreneur. How we communicate is the backbone of business leadership. Whether you’re pitching to a client, leading staff meetings or talking to a potential investor at a networking event, it’s all about how effectively you can communicate your ideas. Being able to speak at events is the cheapest, fastest and most powerful way to grow your business – it’s putting a face to your brand, and becoming front-of-mind with your clients. Yet so many entrepreneurs will shy away from public speaking and miss out on key opportunities to grow their business.
But can you really get good at public speaking if you’re not a natural?
Absolutely! Public speaking is a skill to be learned, like any other. Through techniques and practice, anyone can become a powerful public speaker. Some of the best speakers I know are real introverts off stage. The added bonus is that somehow overcoming your fear of public speaking gives you confidence in so many other aspects of life – social as well as business.
What if you’re too nervous to face it?
There are a lot of different ways to tackle nerves. On our courses we use techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming to help people break negative associations with public speaking and reframe the experience so that they no longer see speaking to an audience as a ‘threat’. Download a positive visualisation audio on this. We help them change their thinking habits around public speaking so that they approach it in a different way. After that, it’s all about developing your personal style through speaking techniques and practise, practise, practise. One you get good at it, bizarrely, you begin to love it…
What’s your best bit of advice for entrepreneurs?
Have a killer elevator pitch ready for when you go to networking events and bump into a key contact. You should have a carefully planned and practised answer to the question “So what do you do?”. How you answer that question dictates whether the conversation will continue and evolve into a business relationship. Even better if you go to an event where everyone gets a minute with the microphone and you can give your elevator pitch to the whole room.
Ok – so how do you give a good elevator pitch?
Imagine you’ve stepped into an elevator with your dream client or investor and have 30-60 seconds to get them interested in your business and secure a meeting before they get off at the top floor. What are you going to say?
Your pitch needs to be simple, personal and compelling. Try following this structure…
1. What problem are you solving?
For example, rather than saying “I run a public speaking training business”, I would say here “I help people overcome fear of public speaking”.
2. How are you credible?
Briefly outline what makes you an expert.
3. What does the work look like?
If it’s not already obvious, mention what the deliverables are, e.g. an app? 1-to-1 consultancy time? A seminar?
4. Communicate your USP
What makes you different to your competitors?
5. What is the result?
Briefly drop in any great results/client names…
6. Call to action
Swap contact details and get a meeting in the diary if you can. Make sure you take their details rather than just giving out yours or else you might not hear from them.
Deliver your pitch with passion and enthusiasm!
You can design and practise your elevator pitch here on our most popular course.
Sounds good! Got any other tips for networking?
My best tip is to choose which networking events you attend carefully, and once you’re there, shamelessly work the room! There is no point giving up your time to attend networking events if it’s either the wrong crowd for your business, or it’s the right crowd, but you’re only meeting 10% of them. If you find yourself stuck in a corner with someone and you need to move on and meet other people, just politely say “Hey, it’s been great talking to you. Now I better go work the room – that’s what I’m here for!” As you move round you’re helping other people rotate, so it’s win-win for everyone!
After the event, follow up with your leads as promptly as possible. Add them to your database and connect with them on social media to make them a permanent part of your network. If you don’t do business together now, perhaps you will sometime in the future. Read more tips on networking.
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