The ability to speak confidently is a worthwhile skill to master if you are in business.
Whether you are speaking to customers face to face, on the phone or on a promotional video you need to be able to express your thoughts and ideas in a way that best conveys your message.
If you are anything like me, making cold calls freaks you out. I was once told that you need 50 no’s before you can expect a yes so you may as well just keep calling people as you have a lot to get through before you get your yes. Whether you have to do cold calling or just speak to customers or clients, colleagues or business acquaintances you need to be able to appear you know what you are talking about.
I have spent a lot of time getting comfortable with speaking to and in front of people. I joined Toastmasters in 2008 so I could practice these skills, not realising there was more to speaking in front of people than just preparing and delivering a speech. Here’s what I learnt and how I use it when in my business life with customers.
1. LISTEN -I learnt it was important to listen as well as speak. How can you meet the needs of your customers if you don’t find out what they are? You might be listening on the phone, in person or receiving feedback in writing. LISTENING allows you to meet their needs. You are wasting your time if no one wants what you are selling.
2. FEEDBACK- I learnt to give and receive feedback. Like listening, feedback is an active verb and if you don’t take action it is wasted. The art of feedback is noticing the good and that which needs improving and saying it in a way that allows the receiver to understand what to do next. For example- “ I enjoyed the meal and the performance however when I went to my car it was very dark and I would like to suggest you get lighting for the car park so I can enjoy the whole experience next time. Thank you for a lovely evening. “
3. PREPARATION – I learnt that if you say you are going to do something you should prepare to do it well. This requires practice. In my business life this means writing down what I want to say, if it is something I am going to find difficult, and practice saying it till I can say it confidently.
4. POWER OF THE PAUSE- I learnt not to be afraid of the PAUSE. This was hard in the beginning. I unconsciously babbled to fill the silence. When you watch confident speakers, they are not afraid to take time to think about what they are going to say next or simply add a pause for effect. This often has us hanging on their every word. In my business life I can confidently ask a client, to give me a moment or that I will call them back when I have the answer they seek.
5. OFF THE CUFF- I used to hate networking events. I would stick close to people I knew which totally defeats the purpose of going to a networking even. I practice speaking in front of my club on all sorts of topics and have learnt techniques to help me when I know nothing about the topic. This skill is helpful when you need to make small talk at a trade show or networking event. It can also be helpful when waiting for a client or other members of a group and you have to pass the time with others waiting.
If you want to be a confident speaker it takes practice. Joining your local Toastmasters group will help you do this in a supportive environment, you can learn at your own pace, talk about topics you are comfortable with and meet new people.
One collaborator of the Anywhere Team NZ
Mindset, Collaboration, Learning