Speaking to groups of people that you don’t know can be an extremely hard thing to do. For some it comes naturally but for most of us it’s about as pleasant as getting a tooth pulled. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With most skills that a person develops the old axiom “practice makes perfect” holds especially true. And eventually you might find that you even enjoy giving a presentation.
I’ve always hated giving presentations. I hated it so much that during high school I’d often be absent the day I had to give a speech or presentation. I hated it with a passion. I was always afraid I’d embarrass myself and in school if you do that you still have to show up the next day. Of course most of my fear was self induced.
But from the many speech’s I’ve been forced to give in my life I did manage to learn a couple of lessons. The biggest lesson I have ever learned about giving a presentation actually came in the seventh grade. Our teacher gave us an assignment for a speech that allowed us to pick what we wanted to talk about. For my topic I picked baseball cards. It was my favorite hobby so much so that I worked part time in a sports card shop and spent all my wages on baseball cards. I believe that they were my first ever true love. And when it came time to make my presentation I aced it. I even went beyond my allotted time without realizing it.
I later wondered what was different about that presentation compared to others I’d had to do. then it dawned on me, I loved my topic and I knew everything about it.
As a small business owner I also love what I do. I love talking to people about what my company does. And I hope that you as a small business owner love what you do because passion can take you a long way. And loving what you do can make that sales presentation go a lot easier. After all you’re just talking about something you love.
My second important lesson came years later while I was in college. To meet my degree requirements I was forced to take the always dreaded speech class. In it I learned to prepare. Because if you don’t love the subject you need to know the subject even better. It will lessen the potential stumbling that might otherwise occur.
But even more importantly it made me get up in front of a group of people I didn’t know. And I had to do it again and again. Naturally I was able to get more comfortable with what I was doing. Later on in my schooling I took Speech two and business communication so that I could stay in practice even though I could have opted for other courses.
I can’t begin to emphasize how important practise is to becoming good at presentations. And practicing in front of friends doesn’t cut it. You need an audience you don’t know. I know for a lot of us going back to school may be a pain but you only need to take speech, not get a degree.
Another way to get regular practice is to volunteer as a guest speaker. I myself periodically volunteer as a guest speaker for one of my former professors who happens to teach small business. A good place to do this would be your local community or junior college where there’s less pressure on you and the professors are more open to people that approach them with such an idea. All you need to do is contact the business department for information. You might even end up liking it. You might dread giving a speech now but with practice you may embrace them.