You know what everybody says: If you aren't speaking in public, you're missing out on one of the best marketing tools for yourself and your business. If you're not out there letting people see and hear the real you, up close and personal, you're probably leaving a pile of sales on the table and won't you be sorry at the end of the year when you calculate your bottom line?
Okay, so you've got an interactive website. You can blog in your sleep and keep up with social media with one hand. You've even dropped some copy into traditional advertising media. What more do you need? Besides, the idea of speaking in public makes you sweat bullets, keeps you awake nights, upsets your digestion and turns you into that nasty old Grouch you promised yourself you'd never, ever be.
Good news! If your product or service is already so well known, so good it sells itself, and you're happy with the level of return you're getting for the amount of effort you're putting in, you're off the hook. If you never make a speech in your life, it probably won't matter. You're already as successful as you want to be, so why worry?
However, if you want to grow your business or move up several rungs on the corporate ladder, can you afford to ignore such a valuable marketing tool? Maybe you want to start a whole new company based on that invention your brother-in-law came up with that you think is dynamite. Don't you have to bite the bullet and get up in front of as many people as possible to spread the word and attract venture capital? Won't you have to become an accomplished, confident public speaker?
Maybe not. Here are five good reasons to avoid it.
One. You don't have time. You are so busy just keeping track of the day-to-day details of managing your business, taking care of your family and having some kind of a social life, you can't possibly spend a few hours writing speeches, finding audiences who want to hear them, and then give up a whole afternoon or evening to appear at a lunch or dinner to tell people how wonderful your product or service is. You're way too over-committed as it is!
You're not making the best use of your time. You're wasting way too many hours on busy work, stuff you hate, and stuff someone else does much better. You need to focus on what you do best: promoting yourself and your expertise.No one can talk about what you do better than you can. If you hired some help, say, a Virtual Assistant, a nanny, a good marketing/PR person and a speechwriter, you'd have time in your schedule for those important networking speaking engagements. Wouldn't you get more referrals and paying clients if you were using your personal magnetism and knowledge to bring more people into your orbit?
Two. There are so many other ways to publicize your product or service.You've been using a dozen different kinds of marketing, from direct mail advertising to saturation on the social media, and you feel comfortable hiding behind the written word and technological innovation. You're the first on the block to try the latest Internet marketing tool and you can do it in your pajamas if you want to. You don't need to get all dressed up to make a fool of yourself in front of a group of real, live people.
Technology is a wonderful thing, properly used, but it's no match for the personal touch. Especially if you're in a service industry, people want to know you're a real person, not just a cyberspace professional. We're so sophisticated these days; we know that what we read on the Internet may be written by anyone. People like to know they're doing business with a flesh and blood person. They're much more inclined to buy from someone they've actually had a chance to talk to face-to-face, to ask questions, get clarifications, and be reassured that they're spending their money wisely. Never underestimate the power of showing up to influence people in your favor. People trust the one who steps forward and says, "Here I am. Let's do business together." Give them lots of reasons to trust you. Step up and speak.
Three. Yours is not the most beautiful body on the block. You're short, overweight, round and roly-poly, and clothes don't look good on you. Or you're too tall and model thin and your clothes just hang on you. Your hair isn't long, full and luxuriant or you don't have any hair at all. You hate the way you look and the idea of parading in front of an audience only makes you feel embarrassed. No one will pay attention to a single word you say.
When you get up to speak, you're not a contestant in a beauty pageant. Your audience doesn't care about your physical package; they're interested in the package of benefits you're offering to solve their problem. That's why they came to hear you. You could look like Quasimodo, it doesn't matter. They just want to know that your product or service can make them feel happier, richer, more beautiful or more successful. If it can, in their eyes you'll be the best looking person in the room!
Four. You hate public speaking, always have, always will. Your 6th grade class laughed at your book report on Moby Dick because you expressed compassion for the whale. You've refused to speak in front of people ever since. You're positive that no matter what you say, they'll laugh at you, no one will take you seriously, and you'll feel as ridiculous and stupid as you did when you were 12 years old. The fact that it's now 25 years later and you're a grown-up running your own business cuts no ice with you.
C'mon! Whatever happened to you in your past, when you had little or no power over your own life, is long over and done with. That was then, this is now! Hire a speaker's coach to help you get over your phobias. As an adult you are totally in charge. No one can tell you what to do or how to do it unless you choose to let them. You are an expert in your field. Others are looking to you for help. Your audiences are dying to learn from you, to receive the benefits you've worked long and hard to bring them. They're not laughing; they're yearning to have what you offer them. They want to know how you became successful, so they can do it, too!
Five. People don't need to know you personally to buy from you. People buy a brand or they buy something their brother-in-law, their neighbor or a TV commercial recommended, but they don't need to know personally the guy who makes it. If they like the product, they'll buy it and they don't care where it comes from.
"Getting to know you" isn't just a wonderful song lyric by Rogers and Hammerstein; it's a vital piece in your marketing toolkit. Especially if you're in a service business, people want to know the person they're dealing with on more than a superficial, "here's my product, go forth and learn" basis. People buy from, refer to, and recommend people they know and like. The more people have heard you speak, the more they feel they know you. Especially if you've answered a few of their burning questions, looked them straight in the eye, and made them feel like the most important person in the room at that particular moment. The better they know you, the quicker they'll call you next time they need your service. You need them to know you if you want your business to grow into the success you envision for yourself.
Bottom line, there are no good reasons to avoid public speaking when promoting your business. The truth is: You are the most important representative of your company. Getting up in front of people is possibly the most valuable tool you have for growth and expansion. Embrace the opportunity to personally make others aware of the value and benefit they'll receive from you. They'll love you for it, and you'll be delighted at how much more confident and proud you'll be of your own accomplishments.