Public speaking gets a lot of grief. Jerry Seinfeld in one of his monologues said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."
Many people will do anything to avoid delivering a speech. However, if you learn the skills involved there are tremendous values in speaking effectively. Daniel Webster once said, “If all of my skills were taken away from me except one, the one I’d want to retain is the ability to speak, for with it I could regain all the rest.” In their autobiographies, both Lee Iacocca and Jack Welch credit public speaking skills as a major factor in their successes as CEOs of Chrysler and General Electric Here are some of the benefits.
Your effective presentation skills will enhance your credibility for your products and your company. If you appear confident and competent, you will earn the respect of your prospective clients. Presenting allows you to demonstrate your experience and the expertise your company can provide. Your presentation can influence your audience to listen to you beyond the time you present. When you phone them again to ask for an appointment, if you have presented well you will not have to explain who you are; they will feel like they know you from sitting through your 20-minute presentation and will be more responsive to your request.
The presentation allows you to showcase your knowledge in an organized and complete manner. With a captive audience in a non-threatening environment, you can validate the value of whatever you may be advocating. At the end of your presentation, audience members will feel close to you and will remember you in a positive and helpful manner.
The presentation environment encourages you to look at all the material you have to sell your ideas or products and to use your strongest persuasive reasons with relevant and detailed evidence. If you are just having a conversation or email exchange, you are less likely to provide the structure and continuity that a presentation demands. Your persuasive powers will be increased because of the self-discipline of preparing the presentation.
The presentation allows the audience to size you up and think about whether or not they want to do business with you. In a conversation, whether in person or on the phone, a person is engaged actively in conversing with you and he or she does not have the chance to sit back and take stock of you and your company. Doing a great job in your presentation can’t help but assist you in doing business with them. By the time your presentation is over, the audience member will have a good gauge on what he or she wants to do next in the business relationship.
When you deliver in-house presentations, you have the opportunity of showcasing your skills and knowledge—a great advantage if you are seeking to advance in the company. Someone from another department may be so impressed with the quality of your presentation that you may be first on his or her list to seek out when a position comes open.
Even though delivering presentations can be challenging, they are worth every bit of initial anxiety due to the benefits outlined in this article. So if you have a choice between meeting a person or presenting to a group of l0 or 50, choose the latter. Then you will have opportunities for influencing people in your audience to buy into your ideas, your products, or you.
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor of Speech Communication in the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. He gives keynotes and after-dinner speeches for organizations whose people want to speak and listen more effectively to increase professional and personal success. He can be reached at 800.727.6520, or visit www.sboyd.com for free articles and resources to improve your communication skills.