Growing a business requires entrepreneurs to wear many hats. Regardless of differences between products, channels, and industries, there are some hats worn by all.
You’ll need to sell your product or service, develop a brand and customer loyalty, raise funds, and build a team committed to your vision.
What do these endeavours have in common? Communication. Convincing people that your brand is one they should support. Whether in person, over Zoom, in a meeting room with a few, or on a stage in front of many. If you have any aspirations of growth, presenting your purpose and business is critical.
Yet, public speaking is feared by so many – entrepreneurs included. But if that’s you, you’re in good company. Brianne West did too. These lessons come directly from her.
1. ‘Why’ Comes First
Whether you’re a new entrepreneur pitching an idea, or a more established business working to land a retailer, lead with why you’re talking to them. What problem are you solving? What impact do you have? What do they stand to gain by backing you?
Follow it up with the how and what – these details are important too – but keep bringing it back to the why (answering a question is the perfect opportunity).
“We make x,y,z” doesn’t stand-out to someone who hears about multiple variations of x,y,z every day. Instead, “we exist to” and “our impact solves this problem” is what makes you different. So, start there.
2. Read the Room
You can’t predict the course of a meeting or presentation until you’re in it. Just because you have a twenty-minute slot, doesn’t mean those you’re speaking to need (or want) to sit through a twenty-minute pitch. A five-minute conversation may be all they want. So, pay attention and be prepared to adapt.
3. Context is Key
Have an epic success story? Fantastic. If you’ve hit milestones, then share then. But don’t leave them as standalone statements. Back them up with context (remember point 1). Why is that story so epic?
Compare it to competitors in your industry and prove that choosing your business makes the difference.
4. Powerpoints are Banned
Not a rule that applies in every situation, but something implemented among our Ethique team for good reason. Not all meetings need pages of PowerPoint slides. It can be time-consuming (a precious resource for those working to grow a business) and lead a speaker to talk to their screen, not their audience. Listeners feel less engaged, and the presenter misses cues about what they actually want to hear.
So, ask yourself – what visual cues will add value? Then speak to those. If you’re going to say something, don’t put it on your presentation slides.
A few ‘behind-the-scenes’ strategies can help you avoid mishaps (some, not all) and get the most out of your time with an audience.
Start by building two presentations. One as a pre-read to send ahead of time, and this is where you can include your copy. Create a second as the visual aid you’ll speak to.
Videos don’t belong in the ‘live’ version unless they’re essential and you’re supremely confident with the tech you’ll be using. If not, leave them out and avoid chewing through time, or getting thrown off by a clip that won’t play. Send them with the pre-read instead.
Same goes for Commercials. Send them before hand, but know your numbers and be prepared to answer questions about them in the Q&A.
I’ve written this list, but the lessons are Brianne’s. The last one is something I try to remember as I work on them. Presentations are a work in progress. Public speaking takes practice. Do your best, laugh it off, listen to those trying to help you, and get used to asking, “can you see my screen?” with fingers crossed that today is not the day it freezes. It probably will be the day it freezes. So, smile.
And look forward to doing it again tomorrow.