Every entrepreneur, whether they’re just starting off or have years of experience, should develop their public speaking skills. Because these skills don’t just make you more memorable while on stage—they make you more effective during everyday business communications, which can translate into greater business success.
You may not realize it, but you already rely on public speaking skills when you’re leading a meeting, pitching investors, or networking at a cocktail party. As you can imagine, the better you are at speaking clearly and persuasively, the greater your potential results.
Self-development coach Brian Tracy believes this so deeply that he claims, “Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85 percent of your success in your business and in your life.”
Eighty-five percent may sound high, but it doesn’t seem like an exaggeration when you consider the many ways public speaking can help your business grow:
Inspire others to support your vision
When honing your public speaking techniques, you learn how to become more influential through storytelling. By sharing ideas with more clarity and expressiveness, you’ll find people listen to you more willingly. Not only will you keep them engaged during prepared presentations, you’ll also be just as magnetic when speaking off-the-cuff during regular conversations. This isn’t just because of a well-timed pause, or more organized thoughts. It’s because you also learn how to connect with different audiences across multiple cultures and social groups. This is a valuable skill when designing ad campaigns, meeting new customers, or building a passionate company culture.
Think and negotiate like a shark
Public speaking training improves your critical thinking skills. Seasoned speakers know that how they prepare their speeches is as important as how they deliver them. Part of public speaking training involves learning how to research, reason, and analyze information from your viewpoint and your audience’s. You’ll learn how to analyze situations so thoroughly it will reveal more opportunities to engage and convert your audience. These analytical skills could improve the results of your sales calls, boost marketing campaign results, or uncover unspoken obstacles during negotiations.
Handle PR like a pro
Public speaking training builds your confidence when sharing ideas and promoting your business. You’ll deftly handle conversations during everything from networking events to public relations campaigns without worrying about fumbling, going into vapor lock, or rambling. In time, you’ll find yourself comfortably speaking in a way that positively reflects you and your company, even when fielding unexpected questions or jumping on spur-of-the-moment opportunities.
Create growth opportunities
The more you practice public speaking, the more you naturally speak with conviction. People rally behind leaders who express confidence and excitement. When you speak with more conviction, it may encourage employees, customers, and other supporters to remain passionate and dedicated to you and your company. This same conviction can sway people to endorse, invest, or partner with you. And it may improve your networking success as people become drawn to learning more about your message and helping you spread it.
Elevate your leadership finesse
Public speaking develops your listening skills, which is a critical—but seldom taught—part of effective communication. Skillful listening requires you become fully focused during a conversation, while remaining sensitive to other people. By doing so, you understand other people’s concerns more completely. This can help you build more passionate, dedicated teams. And the insights gained may inspire ways to serve your customers better through product or service improvements.
GETTING PAST THE FEAR OF SPEAKING
Business magnate Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group intensely feared public speaking. But in order to expand his company, he knew he needed to be the face of the Virgin brand. So he hired a coach to help him overcome his fear.
As an entrepreneur, you’re out there selling, leading, managing, and inspiring people nearly every day. If you want better results from your efforts, do as Branson and legions of other entrepreneurs did: Brush up on your public speaking skills.
Many people start by joining organizations like Toastmasters. This nationwide group provides a supportive environment to learn through practice. Or you can work with personal coaches, community groups, or create your own practice group.
While practice is important, it’s only helpful if you practice properly. As painful as it may feel at first, always seek constructive feedback during practice. Quality feedback can help you determine where to focus, which often helps you improve and develop faster.
Being well-spoken can fatten your bottom line
In case you’re still unsure if public speaking skills are important for your business, remember that every conversation is an opportunity for people to learn about you and your ideas. You may be talking to a potential customer, or you may be opening the floodgates to millions of dollars of free exposure.
That’s what happened when Del Harvey, the VP of Trust & Safety at Twitter gave a TED Talk about her job. She tossed out a few statistics in the beginning, but kept the slides simple, so that people focused on the main points. She interjected humor in the right places, and used examples people could relate to. By the end of her nine-minute speech, you not only understood more about what she did, you were thankful she did it. And it raised Twitter’s credibility even higher.
Over 834,000 people viewed Harvey’s talk online. That’s great exposure for Twitter, but that’s just the start. Her talk generated subsequent interviews and thought-leadership articles in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Forbes.
Just remember, the sooner you start practicing, the sooner you can apply your public speaking skills towards business growth. So why not get started now?
For more startup tips, check out Upwork’s Hiring Headquarters blog. You’ll find practical advice for growing your business, learn about time-saving tools, and more.