How to Gain Instant Credibility with Public Speaking

Have you every wished you had to power to inspire large audiences? It’s not as difficult as you might think.

Public speaking is one of the easiest and quickest ways to build authority with your personal and business brand.It starts by getting in front of an audience. The power of the podium is undeniable. Public speakers gain credibility as subject-matter experts and enjoy many networking benefits. You just need to step up to the mic and share what you know.

Standing up in front of a room full of people is terrifying for many, even if those people are your peers. But it’s one of the quickest ways to amplify your personal brand. Whether it’s delivering presentations in front of colleagues, speaking at an industry conference, or even developing your keynote speech and taking it on the road, There are few more effective opportunities to establish your subject matter expertise and interact as a peer with the influencers in your field.

We’re experiencing a renaissance in public speaking; the internet can turn a small talk into a viral sensation. TED Talks are being viewed over  1 billion times per year, and every industry niche has a conference or event to better bring their audiences together.

Though the skill is as old as recorded history and as simple as a campfire tale, here’s some things to consider as you hone your craft as a public speaker.

Why Oh Why Get On Stage?

As a public speaker, you’re bound to have goals. Figuring out which goals to focus on first will determine your public speaking strategy. Let’s take a look at some of your most important goals.

Rock the Platform — This is your only job as a speaker. To share something of value with the audience. By being useful, relevant, controversial, inspiring and authentic.

Establish authority —We look up to those that speak in public, and that fact alone can help accelerate your personal branding efforts. Where you share your expertise to establish authority in your niche,  speaking at events, conferences and industry meetings.

Network —When you are a speaker at an event, you will suddenly find that conversations are sparked by your presence, often initiated by attendees of the event. You are, after all, a featured guest. This provides the perfect opportunity to make friends, establish business contacts and network with the organizers and fellow speakers.

Recruit New Talent —When you are looking to attract new talent to your organization, pubic speaking is a great way to humanize your brand and make it more than just job rec. In the right settings, you get the opportunity to share the mission of your company and real life stories about the passion that drives you and the problems you are working to solve.

Connect with new customers — Being a speaker at conferences and meet-ups is the ultimate non-salesy ice breaker. You are there to share your expertise and in the process establish trust with prospects and customers without them feeling like they are being sold to.

Persuade others –– As a professional, there are many occasions when you need to speak with others outside of the big-audience public speaking arena. For example, a manager may want to address his/her team (or an individual address everyone and the manager). You may also want to talk persuasively with individuals in any situation from getting a job, a promotion or raising funds for your next great idea.

Expand your audience   — Your talks give new audiences an opportunity to know, like and trust you.

Generate publicity —As previously mentioned, public speakers establish authority. Demonstrate you know your niche, and you’ll get asked for interviews often.

Give a face to your brand — People don’t connect with companies, they connect with other people. As the face of your brand, you get to tell a deeper, more human story about what your brand is all about.

Self-education —You are going to learn a lot about your niche, your audience and the world around you. It comes with the research and preparation for your talks and the face-to-face conversations at every event you speak at.

Craft a Message Worth Sharing

Mark Twain once said, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars”. Well, unfortunately, there is no magic formula for giving a great speech. But as for how to craft, prepare for, and present your message, we can suggest some of the tactics that have proven effective.

Write it down ––While you may have the gift of gab and can improvise on the spot, a good speech has a strong beginning, solid middle and powerful end. The best way to start crafting yours is to write down the message you plan to deliver.

Practice a lot–– The better you know your speech, the better you’ll do when the lights are on, and everyone in the audience is staring at you. Don’t just practice in private either. Practice out loud as much as you can. Make others watch you and give you feedback.

Avoid the mirror ––A mirror can be more of a distraction than it’s worth. There’s no need to focus on the smallest facial expressions and gestures that the audience most likely won’t see. The mirror is useful for a final check before you go onstage to make sure there’s no food in your teeth and your pants are properly zipped.

Video your practice sessions ––If you want to see yourself as the audience might see you, better to video your practice sessions for review. Don’t focus on your crooked smile. Pay attention to the ‘Umms” and “likes” that pepper your talk. Study your body language and eye contact. Pick one or two things to improve for the next go around, then rinse and repeat.

Create great content — Don’t be content just to repeat what you know. Do the research, talk to other leaders, compile the best ideas, the best stories, and weave them all together.

Tell a good story ––It can be a personal story, a historical one, or even a story you heard from someone else. Add the parts that fit your overall message. Recall the villains, heroes, struggles and triumphs.

Plan for sharing ––Once you’ve crafted your speech, think about sharable sound bytes, small phrases, and stats that are impactful, memorable and short enough to be quotable.

Make beautiful slides —Take advantage of the appeal of photos, illustrations, screen shots, quotes, graphs and infographics to make your message more powerful. Avoid putting too much information on the slides as they must be consumable from the back of the room. And remember, your slides don’t need to have words to be impactful.

Don’t read your slides —Avoid death by powerpoint. The audience can read five times faster than you can speak, meaning that the audience is already ahead of you. They don’t need you to read the slides to them.

Show your best stuff ––Don’t hold anything back. Keep it fresh, share the insight that gets you excited and keeps you up at night.

Don’t sell  —Avoid turning your talk into a full-blown advertisement for your products. That’s a surefire way not to get invited back. An excellent speech will inspire people to find out more about who you are and what you have to offer.

Provide opportunities to share ––Add your social handle of choice and website on the slides of your presentation, so people can share snippets from your talk while it happens and connect with you afterward.

Plan for a takeaway ––Upload your slides or other relevant take-away either to your website or SlideShare in advance of the event. Add the call-to-action URL to the last page of your slides. This provides an opportunity for attendees to share and for you to capture emails from attendees that download the take-away.

Say no to the lectern ––Hiding behind the lectern means the audience will barely be able to see and connect with you. If possible arrange to stand center stage with your body fully exposed to the audience, arms uncrossed. Although you might feel uncomfortable, you will look more open, vulnerable and more powerful.

Be transparent — Speak the truth with uncompromising integrity and authenticity. Don’t be afraid to address real issues, problems, and challenges. Don’t avoid the tough questions. Tackle them head on.

Learn from others ––There are countless opportunities to see public speakers in action. Watch as many talks as you can, pay attention to what moves the audience and what puts them to sleep. Think about what you like and don’t like. Watching TED Talks online is a great way to start. But make sure you go to as many conferences as possible to study the speakers and the content being shared.

Show up early ––There’s nothing worse than being late to add unnecessary stress to your event. Make sure you arrive early, with ample time to let the organizers know where you are. Take time to walk the room, meet and greet some of the attendees and get comfortable with the event space.

Test your gear ––Things aren’t always set up as you expect at the event. Verify that the organizers have your slides and they are formatted correctly. Test the microphone, walk the stage and if you are planning on wifi, confirm that you have access. Bring a backup. The best-laid plans can go awry, always test and verify.

Connect early & often ––Before, during and after the event, leverage social to connect with the organizers, the audience, and other speakers. Follow the event hashtag. Study their shares, learn their language and say hi. This will improve the likelihood of building relationships that last beyond just one event. Make yourself known.

Don’t speak and run ––Once you’re done with your talk, you might feel the urge to run back to your hotel room and recharge, but you’ll waste the momentum you’ve created speaking at the event. Make yourself available to connect before and after your presentation. Take advantage of the built-in conversation icebreaker that speaking in public provides. It’s networking nirvana.

Stay tuned  —Follow your industry daily and stay on top of what your peers are saying.

Have fun —Never be stiff, formal, or jam useless jargon into your talks. You have the stage. Relax. Be entertaining. Allow yourself to have fun with it.

Seth Price

I’m on a mission to transform the way you think about personal branding to empower your life’s work. My keynote speeches connect me with audiences all over the world. Join me in creating ideas for bringing your brand to market.