Entrepreneur, how to succeed in public speaking?

14 July 2023

Careful public speaking is an art, and a valuable soft skill for any manager. Here are a few tips to help you prepare your speech clearly and without stress.

As an entrepreneur, you’re often faced with the challenge of public speaking. Seminars, meetings, interviews, conferences… there’s no shortage of opportunities to convince your audience. To become a pro at exercise, we give you our tips.

Public speaking: unavoidable in the corporate world

Because an entrepreneur has to be convincing, there’s no escaping public appearances, in front of an audience of varying size. Whether it’s an interview, a face-to-face or video meeting, or a seminar, there are many unavoidable opportunities.

This very special exercise, which sometimes involves introducing yourself, leading a meeting, informing, convincing and keeping the other person’s attention on you and your message, is not always easy. In fact, for most of us, it’s a perilous and uncomfortable business!

The good news is that it can be learned, and progress is made over time. Even if you’re an introvert or shy person, who sometimes lacks self-confidence, public speaking while managing your stress is possible. There are a number of techniques you can use to achieve this.

Prepare yourself in advance!

Are you afraid of public speaking? Losing your nerve? Speaking in front of an audience takes preparation, and becoming a great orator can’t be improvised. We don’t expect you to go there with your hands in your pockets – quite the contrary. The more you prepare in advance, the more confident you’ll feel about the exercise.

First thing to do: find out about your audience. Are they amateurs, professionals, colleagues, colleagues, young people, children, seniors? You need to adapt your message to their expectations. Whether it’s the length, the vocabulary used, or the examples chosen to illustrate your points. In the same way, don’t neglect your outfit, which should match the event!

Then, don’t hesitate to write out your text in advance and rehearse it for yourself or for people around you. Think about working on your articulation and elocution: it’s so easy to deliver a message too quickly, in a monotone voice, or to forget to articulate!

Ideally, you should also have the opportunity to rehearse in situ, in the room where you’ll be performing, so that you can make the space your own. This will enable you to gradually detach yourself from your notes and adopt a more authentic, spontaneous tone, which will more easily capture the audience.

Public speaking: managing stress better

A good speaker isn’t someone who isn’t afraid. In front of an audience, most people are afraid to speak, and that’s normal. The idea is not to be ashamed of stage fright or to try to hide it at all costs, but to accept it.

We don’t focus on stumbling over words or stammering. These are details that won’t prevent your audience from appreciating the quality of your speech. Don’ t be afraid of silences, which provide breathing space in the text and allow the audience to reflect and take notes. Belly-breathing throughout the speech is also the key to avoiding being overwhelmed by stress.

Oral expression: how to get started

Now’s the time. Whether it’s a meeting, a conference or an interview, the challenge is the same: to convince and make a good impression! Here again, there are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re getting started.

Don’t rush: wait until you’ve got your audience’s attention before you start. Second point: face the audience with the right posture. To be expressive, don’t hesitate to use your arms and hands, while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Non-verbal communication is at least as important as what you say.

Think smile! Indispensable for putting everyone (and yourself) on the right track.

One of the most common mistakes is to start your speech by making a point. Be sure to scan the room with your eyes, don’t always look in the same direction, and keep eye contact. If you’re standing, remember to stand on both legs for good balance. This will ease your flow and even help you to set your voice.

Clarity of message for a successful speech

To capture your audience’s attention and keep it until the end of your presentation, the information you wish to convey must be crystal-clear.

To this end, Emmanuel Chila, in his book Et si je parlais pour être vraiment compris? *lists nine elements that are essential for speech to be well integrated, and above all memorized:

– The feeling that conditions listening and understanding.

– Message context.

– A sense of discourse that sets a course.

– The beliefs (interest and disinterest) of your listeners, which belong to them.

– The conviction of the speaker.

– The meaning of the message.

– Popularization, in other words, making the message accessible.

– The quality of information in form, but also in tone, rate and volume of speech.

– The legitimacy of the person delivering the message.

Finally, remember that the best way to learn public speaking is to practice it! Be kind to yourself. The more you dare to take up the challenge of public speaking, the more progress you’ll see over time.

If speaking is a regular part of your job and you still don’t feel at ease, don’t hesitate to find out about the professional training courses available to help you improve your oral fluency.

*Etsi je parle pour être vraiment compris, Emmanuel Chila, Editions Eyrolles

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