As Published in The Voice Magazine, April 2019

Anyone who has clients or customers will agree there is growing pressure to use public speaking to create ideal clients, find allies, and attract investors. Unfortunately, the public speaking experience for many people conjures up emotions of anxiety and dread.

If you’ve experienced anxiety around public speaking, you are familiar with the struggle to find clear, concise and confident words that do justice to your message. Meanwhile, your guts are twisting with the feeling that something isn’t ‘right’ in how we are told to talk about our business.

You are not alone.

I’ve worked with coaches, consultants, and small business owners on clear content, authentic delivery and audience engagement. Wanting change from the yucky gut feeling to one of confidence and authenticity is at the heart of their request for help.

I learned that my clients have done one of two things; stuff this gut feeling and soldier on, putting on a smile and memorizing a few lines in hopes of getting a foot in the door; or two avoid speaking to others, feel ‘off’ when they do, and de-prioritize public speaking for their businesses. They do this until they realize that not speaking for their business is making growth slow to non-existent. I’m here to say, don’t ignore or stuff the gut feeling anymore. In fact, let’s listen to it and use it to our advantage. First, let’s put words to this feeling.

Our heads know that speaking to people about our business will serve our goals and dreams. Our gut, on the other hand, says things like “selling feels dirty”, “self-promotion is wrong”, “people will judge me”, “it feels like a lie”, “run away!”. We are hearing the gut response to what we’ve been told public speaking is.

We believe public speaking is about speaking to big groups of people, highlighting the best parts of our business and ourselves, and saying it in a way that people want to hear; that it’s all about appearances and it’s all very impersonal. What we believe we need to ‘do’ to be successful at public speaking is really big and scary, and in conflict with our authentic self.

The truth is, public speaking isn’t just speaking to groups from a stage. We do it every time we speak to people at networking events, when we talk about what we do over coffee, and when we hold webinars. It’s every time we speak about our business. So if we’re already having great one-on-one conversations over coffee with someone we really click with, ask
yourself, what was your focus in this situation?

Chances are your intention (another word for focus) is what your gut is already trying to tell you. That you’re great at forming and nurturing relationships, you want to be of service to your ideal clients, you want to be honest about your business, and you just want to be yourself doing all of this. This is what you want to communicate in your public speaking.

So how do you turn that yucky gut feeling (that’s actually telling you what you’re great at) into true empowerment that communicates authenticity the next time, and every time you speak?

It starts with a clear, deeply considered, written down intention. Every time you speak.

This is a practice that will take some time and effort to turn into a habit. If you do it, I promise it will have positive effects on your speaking and business.

Let me share a success story with you.

In my experience, body language is a difficult habit to change. It accounts for at least 55% of communication, and is an important factor in audience perception. One day while rehearsing an upcoming talk with a client I noticed their shoulders hunching over. Not an
uncommon body language trait, but this person is a seasoned speaker, and although they are tall and large in stature I was surprised to see this. I asked if they were aware of hunching over and that this type of body language communicates lack of confidence. They said that wasn’t their intention, they just didn’t want people to feel intimidated by them. So how did they want the audience to feel? We used some questions to discuss, document, and embody their true intentions. At the next practice, their shoulders were relaxed, not out of rote but because of true confidence. The talk they gave landed them two new clients. I asked what changed. They said they felt more confident, and less stressed about what people thought of them. I know the reason the clients signed was because they felt an
alignment of values and connection to the speaker, from one presentation.

I invite you to use these 7 questions to get clarity that will keep you in alignment with your values and accelerate your business!

7 Questions for Intentional Speaking

  1. Why do I want to speak?
  2. Who am I speaking to?
  3. How do I want to show up (on stage/to the event)?
  4. How do I want to serve my listeners?
  5. How do I want my listeners to feel after I speak?
  6. What action or change do I want my listeners to take after I speak?
  7. What support do I need to accomplish this intention

Oprah Winfrey has been quoted to say, “I don’t do anything without intention because intention determines the outcome of life”.

So the next time you talk to someone about your business, what’s the outcome you really
want to achieve?