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How public speaking can guide your business

August 2, 2011

Wade Kwon - Alabama Social Media Association

Many of you are scared of public speaking. Who wants to talk in front of a bunch of strangers, knowing that any minute you could make a total fool of yourself.

Some of you are allowing that fear to hold you back in your career. You may be the best at what you do, but we may never know it, because you won’t step up to the mic.

Let public speaking guide you in how your business can grow and brand itself.

I’ve given speeches for most of my career, many planned, a few spontaneous (or at least, unrehearsed). Even in front of the smallest of audiences, I’ve learned what inspires people, what can drive sales and what is really on the mind of the buyer. I’ve branded myself and my business in a very distinct and personal way.

Exposure can be very important if you’re in services, like my consulting work. Early on, I took every speaking opportunity that I could. And you don’t have to try too hard: Most communities have dozens of opportunities to speak: conferences, workshops, professional groups, civic groups, Ignites, TEDx’s, BarCamps and more.

For me, it was a fun way to try out different topics and get my name out there (it still is). For you, it’s practice time. Committing to an event is the first step in getting over a fear of public speaking.

Speaking at events across the country has paid off. My reputation has opened new doors for me in speaking and in consulting. People understand that I’m knowledgeable about communications, and that I can talk and interact with audiences in a meaningful, educational and entertaining way.

I’ve even had a few attendees pay me a high compliment: They came, not because of the topic, but because of me. They knew they’d get something out of a Wade Kwon presentation. Wow!

That is extremely gratifying. For you, it can be a big boost to your confidence. Speaking before an audience will not kill you, but you may not believe me until you experience it for yourself.

Beyond ego gratification, I do learn a lot when I speak. That’s because I rig the game. I don’t talk for an hour; I talk for 40 minutes and ask questions and take questions for 20 minutes. I ask questions to do research: How are people embracing a trend? What’s the biggest problem they’re trying to solve when it comes to marketing their business?

And I take questions because that’s when audience members reveal what their real needs are: what training they need, what areas they want to learn about, where the next consulting gig lies.

For you, the payoff can be learning about whether your startup idea could work. Or whether your book idea has a potential readership. Or simply learning how to match up your talents with what the marketplace wants right now.

I end up turning down quite a few opportunities these days. I am more deliberate about which audiences and which messages can help my business. It is a good place to be.

Several friends are moving into the speaking spotlight, and they will bring their terrific personalities and their know-how to the mix. Join us.

Need help with your next speaking engagement?
Contact me for a free consultation.

Contact me

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2011 12:26 pm

    Timely! I have a speaking engagement tonight that came as a result of my food blog at al.com. The field of nutrition is so broad, as well as an individual’s cooking skills. It will be challenging, but I am looking forward to it. I agree. Interacting with the audience takes up time and, with a good facilitator, it can also take the conversation in an unexpected direction that can be more meaningful to everyone involved. Good post.

    • August 2, 2011 1:48 pm

      Break a leg, Judi! I know you’re going to do a great job.

      If you can, set up a tripod or put a small video camera nearby. The video never lies: It’s a great way to spot-check how you can improve.

  2. August 7, 2011 6:10 pm

    Oh I wish I had seen this earlier! BarCampBirmingham5 sounds like it would have been great.

    • August 7, 2011 10:59 pm

      I suggest subscribing to my free newsletter so you’ll know about these events around Birmingham in advance.

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