About a year after I started my performance improvement company, I figured I’d better conduct a seminar of sorts as part of my marketing strategy. This was a not a decision easily undertaken. I disliked public speaking with a passion - that terrifying, gut wrenching, bowel inducing, sweat soaked passion.
So in an effort to minimise the pain (for everyone) I enlisted the help of clients. They would present case studies and do the hard work for me; I’d just have to do an intro and look fabulous.
Carla Zampatti dress. Tick. Youth and grooming. Tick. Confident public speaker. Oh dear.
To ensure I made it through the first few lines I typed them out in big font, word by word. I figured that once I got through that I’d be fine. So I began reading the first few words and stopped. Silence. For the life of me I couldn’t see what was on the paper. Everything went into slow motion around me. Silence. Me staring at the crowd. At the paper.
My client said he got up, went to the bathroom, made himself a cup of tea, came back and I was still standing there with my mouth open.
I’d like to say that that was a life changing moment (it would be better for the story) but it just confirmed to me how crap I was and fed my fear. That F word will get you every time.
It was only years later that I stepped up to the plate with fearless as my motto, that I overcame it and now enjoy speaking. What I wish was that I had realised earlier in my career just how important it is to conquer this fear and be a confident public speaker.
And here’s why:
A leader who cannot articulate a vision cannot lead. A leader who does not inspire or instill loyalty in her troops cannot lead.
When you can articulate yourself well in public, people think you are knowledgeable. They see you as confident, as an expert.
You increase your visibility, both on and offline. Speeches can be recorded and shared. You get noticed. Your name comes up more often and your product is purchased, promotions are offered.
When you can speak persuasively and authentically you can drive change and support your team.
An influential speaker is a valuable asset and ambassador for their organisation.
Public speaking is not just about addressing a large industry conference. Connection should happen every time you’re front of people because nearly every business conversation is about getting people to see things your way.
Becoming an inspiring, influential communicator is not an option if you want to be a leader. You have an obligation to yourself, and to your team. And it will take more than a Carla Zampatti frock.
Lynne Schinella is a speaker, coach & facilitator who helps develop influential communicators. For speaker retreats see www.execspeakercoaching.com