For the last 10 years, David Standing and his team at Accordant Partners have helped hundreds of clients unlock their business success by generating more enquiries, sales and profits. He’s worked alongside businesses both big and small, using a clear, effective model that guarantees positive results every time.

In this interview, David talks specifically about public speaking, and how using public speaking techniques can elevate your business to the next level.

David, why do you think it’s so important for business owners to be able to speak well to a public audience?

Public speaking should play an integral role in all businesses, big or small, for a number of different reasons. Firstly, as your business grows, you’re going to need to speak internally to your staff and colleagues. Doing this not only creates a more open, communicative environment, but also gives you an opportunity to inspire and encourage your team. If you’re able to speak passionately, your team will follow suit and believe in themselves and the business a lot more. Public speaking also helps you to grow your business further because it opens doors and generates enquiries. You might host your own event or you might be invited as a guest to someone else’s. Either way, speaking with confidence and enthusiasm can help both prospects and potential business contacts learn about what you do.

You come across as very confident when speaking in public. Is there a particular technique or method you use?

Interestingly, I wasn’t always confident speaking in public. But what you have to remember is that even the most well known, inspirational speakers had to start somewhere. The real skill is effective preparation. No matter how well you know your topic, it is the structure, pace and the timing of your words that requires practise. I make sure I rehearse as much as possible, and have a ‘comfortable action’ I can go to if I’m feeling at all nervous. An example of a ‘comfortable action’ might be having a drink or water or asking the audience if they have any questions.

Facebook live video and webinars seem to play an important role in your business communications. How does this differ from standing up in front of a live audience, if at all?

Standing up in front of a thousand people is different to creating a Facebook live post or webinar, but they both have their advantages. When you’re in a room with others, you can read their body language and assess from their responses how engaged they are. This can be a real motivator. You don’t have that when you’re recording a Facebook live video or webinar. However, the great thing about these interactive technologies is that they can give you hard data about how many people have been watching, how many have shared the video and how many abandoned, while still maintaining the ability to interact with viewers through questions and answers.

How do you prepare or practise for a public speaking event or live video?

As I already mentioned, practise and rehearsal are the key to effective preparation. However, I also use a page of A4 notes to refer to. If I’m doing a Facebook live or webinar, I can keep this behind my computer screen and look at it if required. When I’m shooting longer training videos I use a professional prompter which reminds me of certain essential details that I might leave out otherwise.

It’s commonly known that public speaking tops the list of most people’s biggest fears. What advice do you have for those with public speaking anxiety?

When I was playing professional cricket for a living, in the early days I would get incredibly nervous. A piece of advice I received at the time was to ‘embrace’ the feeling. Once I acknowledged and accepted my nerves, I was able to work through them and they eventually faded. That’s what I would say to anyone with public speaking anxiety. Acknowledge your feelings. There’s no point in trying to fight or hide them. The nervousness is just a sign that you’re passionate about what you’re doing, so use it to your advantage.

What is the commercial benefit in speaking to your target audience

Something that is overlooked, yet so beneficial, is getting your name onto the speaking rosters for trade associations and trade fairs. If you do a bit of web research, you’ll find plenty of places you can go and speak at. Doing so will gain you business contacts, enhance your reputation and skills, and move you forward in confidence and competence. It’s true that you might not get paid in the first instance but there’s still huge value in it, and once you’ve established yourself as a public speaker in your field, you will be offered good money to share your insights at events in the future.

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