Written by: James Ponds
Becoming adept at public speaking is a skill that will serve you well in many aspects of your life. You don’t have to be a politician to benefit from a silver tongue. There are many occupations and situations where being well spoken can advance your cause and none more obvious than for a salesperson or sales team.
One of the great rewards of practicing public speaking is that it can really boost your confidence before a big sales presentation. You may know your product backwards and forwards but the thought of speaking to a crowd may make your knees knock. Just like practicing your golf swing will make you a better golfer, practicing public speaking will make you a better public speaker. Taking a course in public speaking will allow you to work through those anxieties in a friendly space where it won’t matter if you stutter, turn bright red or drop your notes. You will learn that you can get through your presentation no matter what, and you will be able to bring that new confidence to your presentation when it really matters.
Use Time Efficiently
A practiced public speaker knows how to use his or her time efficiently. He or she will know when to pause to let a point sink in, what words to repeat and what concepts to define. Good public speakers learn to speak at a brisk pace so that no one’s time is wasted but not so fast as to be misunderstood. If you practice what you’re going to say, you’ll have a greater sense of timing, and if you’ve ever heard a speaker drone on long after he has lost his audience, you understand the importance of this.
Practiced public speakers are also less likely to add nervous fillers such as “you know” and “okay.” Taking a public speaking class will break the “umm” habit so that your words are crisp and constantly moving forward. This is especially important in a sales presentation where the moment you lose your place, your clients are likely to start checking their phones. Speaking fluently is a skill that can be learned with practice, especially if there are tricky words or names to pronounce.
Public speaking also allows you to get your information out to your customers quickly. Sure, you can hand them a 20-page booklet detailing all the great points of your product, but a more efficient use of everyone’s time is to succinctly outline the big ideas. Your sales team can dynamically roll though the main talking points in an engaging way and then use the remaining time to answer follow-up questions.
Mark Antony, in William Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of Julius Caesar, was able to persuade a hostile audience that Brutus was guilty of murder all the while proclaiming him “an honorable man.” That is an extreme example of effective persuasion. Mark Antony knew some of the tricks of the trade in persuasive speaking include repetition, connecting with the audience and providing solid examples to back up his point. In a sales pitch, you need to do all these things too whether you are pitching to a room or trying to make a single sale. You repeat what’s important, find a connection with your customer and provide the facts and figures to back up our claims. Many persuasive techniques can be embedded in public speaking.
Learn Ancillary Skills
Learning the art of public speaking affects more than just the words coming out of your mouth. Public speaking is about being able to respond to your audience effectively by reading body language. For example, when your audience begins shifting in their chairs, does that mean that they’re bored, and you need to change tactics? It might mean that they are confused or excited about an idea that you’ve just presented, and you need to take a moment to clarify. Effective public speaking should create a synergy between you and your audience.
There are many reasons that you and your sales team should take a course in public speaking. It can help your team make more effective presentations which should ultimately boost your sales.