By Ashish Arora
Whether you’re standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people, in a boardroom pitching your business idea to investors, or on the phone trying to sell your product to warm leads, how you present yourself can be the difference whether you close a sale or bring in investment money.
Powerful speakers hold everyone’s attention; weak speakers put people to sleep. In a way, you could say weak speakers are powerful sleep aids.
If you don’t think you are a very good speaker, do not feel bad. Most speakers, when they first start out, are shy and nervous. They get in front of others, and suddenly they start to stutter and their voices shake. Here is something to keep in mind: Powerful speakers are not born—they are made. If you want to become a powerful speaker, practice the following tips:
1. Know your audience inside and out
Speakers will come across as powerful if they address the needs, fears, and concerns of their listeners. To do this, you’ve got to know who is sitting in those seats. Why have they come to listen to you? How can your company solve their problem and add value to their lives?
2. Stop using filler words
It is common for most of us to use words like “uh” and “um” when we are trying to think of what we want to say or how we want to say it. When you listen to great speakers, you’ll notice they all have one thing in common: They do not use these types of filler words. They use more powerful words in these moments.
The next time you are speaking, try using more powerful “filler” words such as “now,” “you see,” “however,” etc. These words sound intentional, not like you have no idea what information you are trying to convey.
3. Leverage the power of silence
Have you ever listened to a speaker, and they suddenly stop speaking for a few seconds, as if to make a point? The entire room or auditorium is suddenly very quiet and you can hear a proverbial pin drop. That’s an incredibly powerful moment of silence.
Don’t be afraid of silence. It can offer a lasting impact on your listeners. In fact, instead of using any filler words, you may want to take a moment of silence to gather your thoughts before moving on to your next point.
4. Keep things simple
Those speakers who fill their presentations with a bunch of industry jargon and insider adjectives are most likely trying too hard. Instead of sharing their knowledge and experience, they are bluffing and sharing only theories and concepts.
No matter to whom you’re speaking, keep things simple. Avoid the use of jargon and trendy buzzwords that seem almost desperate. Instead, share your knowledge and passion in a way that everyone can understand.
Remember, if you use language that confuses your listeners, you are not impressing them. You are simply annoying and frustrating them. Keep it simple.
5. Bring your passion
Selling yourself or your company is not about presenting a fake sales pitch. It’s about sharing your passion and genuine enthusiasm for your work, for why you started your company in the first place. Always remember your passion is powerful and is the best sales tool you have.
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6. Make it about the other person
Powerful people do not have huge egos—they don’t need them. They attract attention and command respect because they have a knack for making other people feel important and valued.
Whether you’re speaking to 100 people or one person, make the presentation about them. Don’t flaunt your expertise or show off how awesome you and your products are. Instead, ask questions. How can you help them?
7. Tell stories
Human beings seem to be hardwired for storytelling. Before there was the written word, stories were how our ancestors learned and passed on important information to the next generation: “Stay away from bears and don’t eat those little red mushrooms.”
Many presentations come across as boring because the presenter is merely sharing facts and data—that’ll put anyone to sleep. A good story can NEVER be dull or put anyone to sleep.
If you want to be the kind of speaker that makes people sit up straight in their chairs, stop sharing information and tell a story instead. You can use a personal anecdote or a story about how your company helped someone reach their potential; it doesn’t matter. Just get creative and start telling more stories.
8. Pay attention to your body language
If you were to ask little kids to pose like a superhero, many would probably stand with their legs shoulder-width apart, putting their fists on their hips, and sticking their chest out—like Superman. This is called the power stance.
When you’re speaking in front of people, your body language speaks as loudly as your words. So be sure your body makes you look powerful. Do not stare down at your feet, but make eye contact with the audience. Also, stand up straight while gesturing freely with your arms and hands. These are all ways you can come across as super confident—and nothing’s more powerful than that.
9. Tackle those nerves
Speaking of Superman . . . One of the things that made him so powerful was the fact he was using his skills to help people. That’s what you’re doing. You’re sharing your knowledge and expertise in order to bring value to people’s lives and offer real solutions.
Though you may feel nervous before stepping on that stage (that’s perfectly normal), remind yourself that you are there to help every single person sitting in those seats. And that makes you as powerful as any superhero.
Remember, powerful speakers are not born, they are made. All you need to do is want to become a powerful speaker, follow these tips, keep practicing, and never give up.