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Communicate through Speech – 7 Tips to Help You Master the Art of Public Speaking

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Communicate through Speech – 7 Tips to Help You Master the Art of Public Speaking

What is it about public speaking that seems to terrify even the most fearless individuals? We’ve all heard that public speaking is the greatest fear Americans have. Whether this is reality or simply an urban legend, a study I recently saw in the Huffington Post ranked public speaking at number 5 among America’s top personal fears.

As a financial advisor, getting comfortable communicating in front of a group is an excellent way to demonstrate your expertise with clients and prospects alike.

Here is a concise list of guidelines I have gathered from my own observations, my active involvement in Toastmasters International, and a Dale Carnegie class I enrolled in several years ago. I trust you’ll find them to be helpful.

1. Overcome nervousness

One thing I’ll never forget from my Dale Carnegie course – you aren’t giving a “speech,” you are giving a “talk.” We may be terrified of giving a speech, but we rarely shy away from talking to a friend or a group of friends.

When you get up to speak, it’s normal to feel butterflies. Just remember that you are talking to a group of friends and soon-to-be friends, and you are sharing ideas that will benefit them. It really does help.

2. Share what you know and what you are passionate about

These two go hand in hand. To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, don’t just talk about a subject you are intimately familiar with, talk about one that you are passionate about, too.

Let me give you an example. I will never forget the name of an accounting professor in college. How do I remember Joy Irwin’s name after so many years ago? Because she passionately expounded on a subject in a way that resonated with her class. Simply put, she loved accounting…and it showed! Joy’s enthusiasm and passion were contagious.

3. Please share personal experiences

People love stories. Sprinkle them in your stories while speaking. I remember talking do a group of students about the economy in 2010. Half way through my talk, I shared with them what I personally experienced during the height of the financial crisis. You know, when the financial system was poised to fall into the abyss. It was a scary time,

I shared my emotions, fears, and where we might be headed. Your audience will appreciate the front row seat you provide them.

4. Practice, practice, and practice again

Please, don’t read your talk. Unless you are POTUS with a high-priced teleprompter, no one likes to be read too. And don’t memorize your speech either. Why? Because it will sound memorized and stiff. Remember, you are having a conversation with friends and soon-to-be friends.

Practice that conversation over and over in front of a mirror. Your PowerPoint graphics will lead you to the information you will share.

5. About that PowerPoint presentation

It’s the KISS principal. Keep it Simple Stupid! Have you ever sat through a presentation in which the presenter used a PowerPoint filled with detailed tables or one that was heavy on text? I know I have, and it was easy to get lost in the weeds.

Instead, keep your visuals simple, employ humor, and feel free to use the animations tool that is a part of the PowerPoint software. That way folks in your audience aren’t jumping ahead, concentrating on the screen and not listening to you.

6. Selling—not

Be very careful about explicitly telling your audience how your expertise can assist them. For many, it’s a big turnoff. Think about it – who wants to sit through a sales presentation.

Before conducting a webinar to a group of financial advisors, the senior editor of a well-respected firm warned me not to “sell my wares.” He wisely pointed out my audience will have its antenna set to tune out any sales pitch, even subtle ones.

Much like a teacher, your knowledge and how you convey your information are your best sales tool. It creates confidence, positions you as the thought leader, and generates trust. These are the attributes that will win over your audience.

7. Goodnight

As I once learned in a Toastmasters meeting, “Be brief, be sincere, and be seated.” Remember, the brain will only absorb what the backside will endure. Further, it’s a good idea to set expectations. Let your audience know how long you plan to speak if it’s not already stated in the program.

Now, it’s your turn to shine. Go forth and speak. And speak in a voice that will resonate with your audience.

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