Professional person presenting to a team of colleagues.
Improving and perfecting public speaking skills takes practice, but those skills can help businesses meet many different kinds of goals. — Getty Images/VioletaStoimenova

When you think of public speaking, a person standing in front of a room of people comes to mind. Indeed, this is one form of public speaking. But oration also extends to podcasts, virtual events, livestreams on social media, and panel discussions. Moreover, public speeches can help your small business meet various goals, from increasing brand awareness to generating sales.

Public speaking takes practice. Achieve results by setting goals, understanding your audience, and tailoring your approach. Here’s how to improve your public speaking skills and use them to build your brand.

Develop public speaking goals

Before improving your public speaking, you must understand why you’re doing it. Setting goals helps you secure speaking gigs, craft your message, and improve oral communication. Explore how your desire to be a better speaker fits your broader business objectives and set goals that align with these outcomes.

Also, consider which mediums you want to use for public speaking. For instance, 78% of brands invest in livestream marketing to achieve deeper interactions with their customers. Likewise, “more than one-third of Americans age 12 and over (104 million) are consuming podcasts regularly,” according to Edison Research, making this format a popular way to connect with consumers. Alternatively, you may want to speak at local networking groups or chamber of commerce meetings to communicate with business-to-business (B2B) leads.

Small business owners use public speaking to:

  • Generate and qualify leads.
  • Establish authority in the industry.
  • Forge relationships with customers.
  • Enrich corporate culture.
  • Boost sales of products or services.
  • Improve employee training and development.
  • Increase traffic to a website and/or physical storefront.
  • Attract investors or secure venture capital.
  • Expand audience base.
  • Entice talented job candidates.

[Read more: How to Create Long-Term vs. Short-Term Goals]

A good orator puts their audience first and creates a rapport with the audience. Understanding your audience helps you develop an emotional connection through relatable anecdotes and familiar lingo.

Understand your target audience

A good orator puts their audience first and creates a rapport with the audience. Understanding your audience helps you develop an emotional connection through relatable anecdotes and familiar lingo. However, this is challenging if you don’t research who you’re speaking to or understand their expectations. Like market segmentation, you should be able to group your audience according to demographics, psychographics, or custom categories, like qualified local leads.

Here’s how to learn about your audience:

  • Think about what you want your audience to do, know, or feel.
  • Dig into their pain points, personal interests, motivators, and habits.
  • Survey or poll your audience to gain insights before your speech.
  • Consider what questions or concerns your audience may have.
  • Develop an audience persona.

Craft and practice your speech

Perhaps your ultimate personal goal is to give an informative TED talk or to speak at a national industry convention. Or maybe you want to motivate your staff with quarterly presentations or lure talented professionals to your organization. In each case, effective communication is a vital soft skill. This extends to speech writing, oration, and body language.

Choose your topic and tie it to your offer or call-to-action (CTA). Review speech or video script writing tips to learn best practices and listen to other lectures in your industry. You can hire a speech or script writer to turn your ideas into a polished presentation.

Regardless of your process, it’s a good idea to show your speech to another person (both written and verbally). A second set of eyes can reveal gaps in your content, unfamiliar language that raises questions, or less-engaging parts that can be improved. Also, use your cell phone or computer to record yourself speaking. Look at your body language and ensure each word is clearly expressed with minimal filler words.

[Read more: Tips for Improving Public Speaking Skills]

Assess your performance to improve your public speaking

Influential speakers analyze their messaging and speech materials to find opportunities for improvement. Examine your recorded performance on stage or during the livestream, and write down one or more specific things you’d like to improve. Review audience engagement statistics from your presentation tools to see if particular aspects of your speech increased interactions.

Did you get a flurry of comments or thumbs-up notifications after you shared an anecdote, or was it crickets? Were there any moments of confusion where a better visual or handout could have improved the audience experience? If your speech didn’t result in additional leads, sales, or job applicants, you might want to go back through the steps to understand your audience and channel better.

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Published July 25, 2022