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Friday, 1 April 2011

3 Ways to Find Your Voice in Business

Speaking up for yourself is important in business, whether you run your own outfit or employed. It's excellent PR. Being able to communicate clearly and effectively makes you stand out - and that may be why most of us cringe at the idea of standing up and speaking. All that lingering teen angst about not sticking out like a sore thumb!

A New York Times survey on social anxieties found that our 'confident' American cousins were more afraid of walking into a roomful of strangers or public speaking than death itself!

Hence tip no. 1: Get hold of the book ....And Death Came Third
This book has the most succinct and useful tips I've seen on networking and public speaking in one slim volume. The authors, Andy Lopata and Peter Roper, really do know what they are talking about.

Tip No. 2: Practice makes perfect
The more you do it, the easier it gets. And there's an inexpensive solution: a not-for-profit organisation called Toastmasters International. They started in the US in the 1920s. Today there's over 12,000 clubs in more than 100 countries world-wide. Once you join you can go to any open club (there's some employee-only clubs set up by companies). The UK has around 250 self-help Toastmasters clubs using the excellent training manuals and constructive feedback and evaluation techniques in a supportive environment. The manuals cover both leadership skills and public speaking. The meeting agenda is structured to maximise impromptu speaking opportunities as well as provide feedback on prepared speeches. Membership fees vary according to the club expenses - the main one being the venue hire. The two Edinburgh clubs I belong to cost under £100 a year each for fortnightly training and practice sessions plus training manuals. There's a one-off £20 charge for joining Toastmasters. Our Edinburgh club members range from students to company directors, authors, coaches, poets, recovering stammerers, non native English speakers (imagine doing this in a foreign language!) to retired people.

Tip No 3: Take it further
If you want to promote your business. get out there and give great talks. Read Lilly Walters' book, Secrets of Successful Speakers to start your professional speaking journey. The author is a speaker and also runs a major professional speakers bureau in the US. She's also pulled in top contributors.

So many people are afraid of speaking that organisations are often desperate for good speakers. You can make good money too! I've never given a major speech or workshop without getting good opportunities back for PHPR. But you do have to give your experience generously and in an engrossing or entertaining manner.

When you are starting to get speaking bookings, think about joining the Professional Speakers Association for great tips on all aspects of professional speaking from experienced and successful speakers - and a chance to showcase your work with professional feedback.

Just to prove that I walk the talk, I'm delivering at least one speech a month to business organisations and have won the first two heats of an international speech contest.

There's something to improve every level of public speaking experience in the above. What are you waiting for?

PR blog posted by Penny Haywood Calder at PHPR Ltd, Edinburgh, UK. URL: TV Channel on YouTube: Ltd on LinkedInFollow PennyHaywood on Twitter

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Blogger Andy Lopata said...

Hi Penny

Many thanks for making our book your number 1 tip! The second edition has been published this week, so no excuses!

You are so right in stressing the role of public speaking in building a business. It has opened so many doors for me, it's worth overcoming the nerves.


19 May 2011 at 16:41  
Blogger Penny Haywood Calder said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

14 June 2011 at 16:36  
Blogger H S Consultants said...

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16 July 2011 at 09:05  

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