As someone in business for yourself, you’ve signed up for a lifetime of public speaking—both formal and informal. These formal opportunities can be investor meetings, client dinners, and community gatherings. Informal speaking engagements can happen any day you’re working, while talking to customers, explaining your products to vendors, and ironing out logistics with your team.
Delivering a concise, articulate, and consistent message is important to the success of your business. Here we talk about a few ways that can help make your presentations even better.
You know exactly what you’re going to say and, heck, you’ve probably said the same thing hundreds of times already. This familiarity can cause you to speak quite quickly, making comprehension challenging for your listener. Slow down your speech. A good tip is to pretend you’re reading a book to a child and enunciate every syllable. Accentuate the important parts of what you want to say, and make sure to pause between sentences. Speak slower than you think you should.
Formal gatherings that require you to stand in front of a group may inspire what is called info dumping, which is saying too much and not sticking to your core message. Steer away from this type of speech and instead focus on the two or three main points you want to get across. Be brief and clear with your information.
Preparation is key, especially if you’re walking into a conference room to pitch investors. Recruit friends to listen to your presentation and ask for honest feedback. You can also practice in front of a mirror. Do this weeks in advance and don’t cram the night before—it will show in the meeting. Try to practice your entire presentation at least ten times before your big day, and make it perfect.
Tell a Story
It helps to have a compelling story while you’re in a pitch meeting, especially if it has to do with your pitch. Explain the problem your company is looking to solve and how you’ll solve it—but find a way to be humorous, relatable, and personable, all while letting your personality shine. Remember that investors are investing just as much in you as a person as they are investing in your idea.
Turn it Into a Conversation
The best pitch meetings resemble active conversations, not a long monologue. Your investors will likely have plenty of questions during your presentation. Let them ask, be a good listener, and be prepared with strong answers. All of the constant questioning may fluster you and throw you off course, but this is where the hours you spent preparing should come in handy.
Read Advice from the Experts
Want even more tips on how to make your presentation shine? There are a variety of books written to help entrepreneurs just like you. Here are a few of the best:
“Speak from the Heart: How to Master the Art of Public Speaking in 7 Easy Lessons,” by Bobby Livingston
“Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery,” by Garr Reynolds