"What? Speak? I can't speak! I'm not you, Rich!"
I hear this a lot, primarily from average people looking to expand their businesses, but who balk at the thought of speaking in public about what they do. It's a shame, really, that people eschew this form of marketing, not out of fear it doesn't work, but fear that THEY can't make it work.
Have you met anyone like this? Are YOU someone like this? If so, at least you've taken a step forward by reading this blog. Now consider taking a few more:
STEP 1: Stop telling yourself you can't. This is an easy step that most people make the hardest. Our self-talk is the most dangerous tool our mind has to stop us from reaching ANY goal, from losing weight to starting a business to public speaking.
How do you stop? First, you must be willing. Second, you must be aware. Third, you must take action, whether that be correcting yourself each time you say you can't, snapping a rubber band on your wrist when you say you can't, or paying me 50 bucks every time you doubt yourself. I prefer the latter, obviously.
STEP 2: Start speaking. Join Toastmasters, and sign up to speak. Join a networking group that makes you stand up and give a 30 second introduction. Book yourself at an association or service club, and hire me to get you through it. All are good, but again, I prefer the latter.
STEP 3: Do STEP 2 even if you don't do STEP 1! Nothing gets rid of the can'ts faster than the do's.
The most common cause for the 'can'ts' is the fear of appearing the fool - of messing up, being boring, or just plain being rejected by the audience. This fear can be easily mitigated by practicing in front of supportive audiences. When the people you are speaking in front of are either in the same boat you are, or at the very least being paid to help you improve, your level of fear should go down.
Doing it the first time is always the worst, of course, and everyone will understand that. But did you let that stop you from going to the first day of school? Riding a bike? Learning to drive? What's the worst that can happen, really? There are no police waiting to arrest you or trap doors waiting to eject you into the sewer system for boring your audience. Only the opportunity to learn from your mistakes.
You do not have to speak like me. In fact, I'd prefer you didn't. You don't have to be Tony Robbins, Jeanne Robertson, Les Brown, Patricia Fripp, Darren LaCroix, Joel Osteen, President Obama, Sarah Palin, or even former President George W. Bush.
Do you have a story worth telling? Tell it.
All you need to do is speak like YOU. When using speaking to sell your business or your cause, people want to hear YOU. Your voice, your stories, and yes, your imperfections as a speaker. It makes you real. It makes you accessible. And it will make you viable as a business person in the real world.
So, quit it already. Move past your fears and into your future. Now is YOUR time to Speak, & Deliver.