In past posts, I’ve crowed about the advantages that can be had by embracing your local community. When you think about marketing to local folks you may think it’s all about canvassing the street with flyers and business cards. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that but I think there is an area that maybe you haven’t thought of yet. What about speaking?
The thought of public speaking will send some folks fleeing into the hills. “I write! I do that because I like being alone. If I wanted to get up in front of the masses and speak, I’d be a politician!”
Fair enough. I don’t mean to suggest that you need to spend a majority of your marketing time doing this but I think it is a valuable marketing tool that should be in your toolbox. Freelance writing is fiercely competitive and if you can get a leg up by doing some public speaking then you should do it.
The possibilities are nearly limitless. Most communities have Rotary, Elk and Moose clubs. Not to mention churches, schools, universities and businesses.
What do you speak about? What do you have to say? In some ways, these are difficult questions. In other ways the answers may be right in front of you. What interests do you have? What are you passionate about? Your job is to match your interests and expertise with the speaking venue.
An added bonus about this is that if you have designs of being an author, at some point in your successful career you will be engaged in speaking opportunities to promote your book. When the time comes, public speaking will be no big deal to you.
If you’re not comfortable speaking in public, the good news is that you’re not alone. Fear of public speaking ranks right up there with fear of dying in some studies. Fear not, however. There are a lot of great tools out there that can help you become a dynamic and comfortable speaker. In addition to numerous web sites with a lot of great information, there are organizations such as the Toastmasters International whose sole purpose is to help folks become better public speakers.
If you’re not inclined to join a speaking organization you can go it alone. That means having to face your fear and overcome some discomfort but here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
You never appear as nervous to the audience as you feel inside. Your butterflies may be stirring up your gut, but in a vast majority of cases this is not visible to the audience. Have the inner confidence to know that this is the case. This should give you the incentive to “fake it until you make it.” No one will be the wiser. Also, keep in mind that most audiences are friendly. They want you to succeed and they are tolerant of most small missteps. Remember that many of them will be thinking that they would be nervous as hell speaking in front of a group of people. Your audience is not your enemy – they are your ally.
There is something that makes public speaking easier. It is the one thing that will truly make you a better public speaker. What is this one thing? Public speaking. That’s right. The thing that makes speaking easier is doing more of it. Each time you stand up in front of a group of people things will get easier. One day you will be up in front of an audience and you will realize that you are not the least bit nervous. When that day arrives, it is an amazing thing.
Have you added public speaking to your toolbox?