TAKE THE STAGE: Public Speaking Strategies for Entrepreneurs

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Written by Linda Drosdowech

You’re a strong leader with a hopeful vision of the future ready to inspire and guide people during this time of uncertainty and change. 

You want to build your ability to communicate your message by taking the stage; whether that’s in-person training, webinars, keynote presentations, social media videos, or lives.

You want to learn to calm your fears of judgment, embarrassment, and messing up, and feel more confident in the spotlight.

YOU WANT TO TAKE THE STAGE!

To take the stage and show up as the speaker, you need to:

  1. Decide what you’re asking people to think, feel, and do
  2. Know your simple message
  3. Choose the structure of your talk
  4. Engage your audience
  5. Practice, practice, practice
  6. Develop tools to calm your nerves
  7. Believe you belong
  1. DECIDE WHAT YOU’RE ASKING PEOPLE TO THINK, FEEL & DO

Before you begin writing your talk, you need to know who your audience is, what their pain point is, and what you want them to think, feel, and do at the end of your presentation.

Do you want them to feel curious to know more about how to work with you so they go to your website?

Do you want them to feel safe to book a consultation call with you?

Do you want them to feel inspired to buy your service on the spot?

Do you want them to feel intrigued to go to Amazon to buy your book?

Do you want them to feel motivated to click the QR code on your slide deck to give their email in exchange for a free offer?

TO DO

  1. Decide ahead of time what your offer is 
  2. Write out your ask or offer and decide why this is the most important and valuable part of your talk
  3. Leave lots of time at the end of your presentation to guide people to take action on your offer

OUTCOME

You’re clear on the influence you want to have, the offer you want to make & how valuable your offer is to your people

2. KNOW YOUR SIMPLE MESSAGE

Now that you know what you want people to do at the end of your presentation, you want to start crafting your talk by writing out your story & mining it for your simple message.

Many of us believe our audience needs facts, graphs and charts to believe we’re credible experts in our field, but what they really need are stories. 

Stories connect us to our emotions which make our talks memorable. We’re able to empathize with the speaker and put ourselves in their shoes. 

Stories make it easier for people to understand the key message of a talk

TO DO

  1. Write a draft of your story using the hero’s journey as a guide. The hero (YOU!) is called upon to go on a quest where they meet a guide to help them, come up against obstacles, encounter foes, build strengths they never had before, rely on unusual personality quirks, end up fighting the hardest battle of their lives, and return home from their adventure with a message to deliver to their people. 
  2. Ask yourself what the simple message is that you will deliver to your people
  3. Use this rough draft of your story as an outline for your talk

OUTCOME

You define what your key story is, and how your audience’s lives will transform for the better when they understand your message

3. CHOOSE THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR TALK

Now that you know your offer, story, and message, you can decide how to organize your talk. 

One of the goals of public speaking is to be able to glance down at a few bullet points to guide you, and not simply read your words.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to organize your talk into small sections. You can organize by timeline, by theme, by lessons learned, by problems overcome, by chakras (Just me?!?), or any other creative structure.

Experiment with breaking your talk down a couple different ways until one jumps out that feels obvious to highlight your message

Remember less is more. An overwhelmed audience will struggle to take away your key message. Challenge yourself to leave things out for maximum impact.

TO DO

  1. Organize your talk into small sections
  2. Cut unnecessary parts
  3. Ask yourself what your audience truly needs to know to address what’s keeping them up at night – what is their pain point you are addressing

OUTCOME

You organize your talk into small sections which make it easier for you to remember while delivering your idea in digestible bits for your audience

4. ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE

You’ve connected your audience to your offer, story, message, and bite-sized pieces of information, now it’s up to you to keep them engaged.

Brainstorm ways to make your talk interactive and participatory. Even if it’s a keynote, you can still make it interactive by asking reflective questions and leaving pauses for your audience to process. 

Can you ask people to talk to another audience member in a breakout room?

Can you take questions and answers?

Can you break people off into a group conversation or activity?

Can you use slides for visual learners?

Can you provide a workbook for people to take notes?

TO DO 

  1. Decide how you’re going to facilitate interaction and participation
  2. Make sure to allow enough time for getting in and out of the activities

OUTCOME

You create a talk that keeps your audience engaged with you and your material

5. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

You’ve created your offer, story, message, structure, and audience participation. Your talk is done. Now what?

Now you practice! Practice in the mirror, with a friend, or record yourself on your phone. 

The more you practice, the more comfortable you’re going to be with your content, the more you’ll be able to focus on tweaking your delivery. 

The best advice is to slow down and breathe. 

You’re not expected to memorize your talk, but be practiced enough with your content so you can look up to see the people in front of you and connect with them in the moment.

Ultimately, the energy you show up with, and the truth you’re telling are more important than whether you say “Um” or not.

TO DO

  1. Slow down and breathe
  2. Make use of the pause
  3. Vary your tempo and volume

OUTCOME

You remember you’re after connection, not perfection. 

6. DEVELOP TOOLS TO CALM YOUR NERVES

You have your offer, story, message, structure, and audience participation, and you’ve practiced your talk, well done!

The problem is you’re still nervous!

Actually, nerves aren’t a problem. It’s normal to be nervous when you’re doing something new, when you’re taking a risk and you’re in the spotlight. 

You know yourself best. 

Do you need to go for a brisk walk before speaking? 

Do you need a quiet space for yourself? 

Do you need to eat lightly? Avoid caffeine? Double up on caffeine? Make sure you have water?

Do you have an intentional thought you can think that makes you feel powerful or brave or bold?

Breathing exercises can calm us down when anxiety strikes before speaking. Deep breathing in for a count of four and out for a count of six calms our nervous systems. 

TO DO

  1. Have an intentional thought on hand that makes you feel brave
  2. Practice breathing exercises ahead of time
  3. Remind yourself that this is just one speech and your future does not ride on this one moment

OUTCOME

You may still be nervous, but you’re able to manage your nerves with tools you’ve practiced ahead of time 

7. BELIEVE YOU BELONG

You’ve defined your offer, message, story, structure, audience participation, practiced, and calmed your nerves, but even with the best preparation we can sometimes still feel like an imposter, and we have no business being on stage. 

Listen. 

You don’t have to know everything in the universe to be a leader. 

You’re an expert and hero of your own story. 

You belong in the spotlight. 

Show up! The people in your audience need to hear what you have to say – just the way you are right now – imperfect, flawed, messy, a work in progress, and still learning. 

TO DO

  1. Be yourself and trust that your message will land with the people who need it the most

OUTCOME

You step onto the stage – and into leadership – and deliver your message that inspires hope, possibility, and strength for your people

Photo by Jaime Lopes on Unsplash

About the author

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Linda Drosdowech

I’m an Executive Coach for professionals, leaders and entrepreneurs in Canada, U.S. and Europe to help my clients achieve goals, self-motivation, mental wellness, growth mindset and strong decision making skills.

I’m passionate about empowering my clients to trust their decisions, prioritize their needs and make time for pleasure.

I’m also an inspiring speaker, trainer, facilitator, and community builder, and I believe it’s possible - and delightful - to change our paths at any stage of life.

I take my clients through a simple process to get the results they crave. It’s simple - but not always easy to change! That’s where coaching comes in.

I help my clients make goals and keep on track of their plans, process feelings, check thoughts, evaluate results, stay accountable to their vision, coach on old patterns and habits, and make doable action plans for the week. And celebrate wins!

I strive to be accountable to the practice of being anti-racist, pro LGBTQ+ rights, and inclusive.

I live in Winnipeg, Canada with my two daughters (one is away at college), and one rather large dog.

Walks in nature, yoga, drawing for fun, community, and many cups of tea throughout the day keep me relatively balanced and happy.

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