Category Archives: Scott Topper

Boost Your Brand Behind the Microphone: Five Public Speaking Fundamentals for Business Owners

By Scott Topper

Scott TopperAs he approached the podium, Taylor could feel his face begin to redden and the perspiration building on his palms. He mentally recited his opening line with each step to center-stage, hoping above all else that he did not stumble over his words, or worse, draw a complete blank. His business was still in its infancy—it had been less than 18 months since he officially opened the doors—but the immediate dent he aimed to make in his market was more like a surface-scratch, and it became blindingly apparent that new avenues must be explored to expand his brand and increase companywide profitability. He shook off the looming nerves, adjusted the microphone and began to speak.

Many business owners can identify with Taylor’s anxiety and apprehension, as the stage is leagues away from the comfort-zone of the boardroom. Addressing a crowd of contemporaries is vastly different than delivering a presentation to a small group of colleagues, but nevertheless, speeches are one of the premiere channels for brand construction, and public speaking prowess is a rubber-stamp to your status as a thought-leader in your field.

There’s an inaccurate belief in business that only professional speakers should talk publicly. The truth is that only a small number of people who are actively speaking at local events, conferences and meetings are professional speakers. Most of them do it for product and service promotion or expanded visibility for themselves or their brand. When you employ these five fundamentals, you can become a great public speaker and learn to market yourself successfully.

1. Assess Your Skills and Knowledge: The first thing you should do is to assess your skills and abilities. Are there any topics that you’re an expert on? Let’s say you’re passionate about healthy eating and fitness. You could use your knowledge to help people understand the importance of good nutrition. Write engaging speeches about organic food and its benefits or talk about the role of physical activity in disease prevention. Show people how they can lose weight without starving themselves or spending a fortune on supplements. Just think about how many topics you could cover in your speeches!

If you’re a business professional, you can talk about the most effective marketing techniques and help people improve their lives. Show them how to start a business, attract more customers, and promote their products more effectively. If you’re a blogger, you can host webinars and teach your audience about Internet marketing. Regardless of your field, you can use your skills to educate and inform people—and create a steady income, as well.

2. Create Your Statement and Share Your Story: Your primary goal when delivering a speech is to engage the audience with a dynamic message that creates value and resonates in their minds. Create a clear statement of what you do and how you can help customers.

If you want to grow your business, focus on shaping a successful brand that tells your story and inspires people to take action, and craft a presentation that imparts your values and ideals on your audience. The most influential speakers have something special to say; they speak from personal experience and share real life stories that engage and motivate people. Personal stories are easy to relate to and have the greatest impact on your audience. If you want to become a good speaker, come up with something new—make the mundane interesting. Encourage your audience to see things from a new perspective.

3. Rehearse, Practice and Scrutinize: As the old adage goes, “Practice makes perfect,” and this is especially true when building your business and reputation through public speaking. Scrutinizing each and every aspect of your speech, committing it to memory and rehearsing in front of a small group of people will help allay any pre-performance anxieties.

Public speaking can be a risky business. Drawing a blank, failing to engage the audience or forgetting a line is entirely possible while onstage, but with constant practice, you diminish the risk of all of them. It’s important to understand that starting a public speaking business requires hard work and commitment. Anyone can become a good speaker with persistent practice, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy.

4. Contact Local and National Associations: When all of the legwork involving crafting an insightful, engaging speech is complete, you need to find your audience. Many neophytes in the speaking world are confounded regarding the ins-and-outs of securing engagements, but it can be as simple as marketing yourself and your presentation to your target market.

As a business owner, you need to contact local and national organizations in your area of expertise and tell them you’re looking for speaking engagements. Search for business events where you could talk about your products and services. Depending on your niche, you can go to schools, colleges, libraries and social clubs to make informative speeches. Tell them about your business and ask for permission to hold a speech. Find a way to tie your message to theirs to maximize your opportunities.

5. Get the Audience Involved: Inviting your audience to be active participants in your performance is one of the best ways to ensure engagement and connection. Encourage questions and sharing of ideas—create a dialogue. Ask people to stand up, group themselves, and share one or two things they found useful in your presentation. Tell them why you enjoy speaking about this topic and how your speech can help them.

The audience was abuzz, and Taylor was elated—a combination of relief from conquering a fear and the knowledge that his performance was the first-step in elevating his brand and business.

Follow Taylor’s lead and dive into the world of public speaking. There’s no better way to boost your business and increase name-recognition and visibility.

Scott Topper, three time Emmy Nominated TV Show Host, and Corporate Improv Skills Coach, helps organizations and individuals learn business improvisational skills and theatrical techniques to achieve better sales presentation results and gain confidence through his fun, interactive corporate presentation skills workshops. Scott offers a monthly coaching mentoring newsletter, and has authored over 30 public speaking books, audio books, workbooks, DVD’s, and downloadable confident speaking courses.


Top 10 Presentation Skills Challenges Your Sales Team Is Not Telling You!

Scott TopperBy Scott Topper

The biggest challenge for a newer sales team might be how they actually feel when they give their presentations. Many first time speakers want to feel confident, want to engage their audience, and want to feel good about actually giving their presentation. But how is this achieved?

Public speaking can change you as a person and boost your confidence. You will learn how to express yourself clearly and get your message across. Being able to speak in front of an audience is a key ingredient of success. The benefits of public speaking are huge. From delivering a formal speech to attending business meetings and answering questions for your boss, public speaking is an important part of your career.

In a survey taken by more than fifty business sales professionals during a presentation skills training workshop, key questions and concerns on how to become a confident public speaker were highlighted.

Here are their main concerns:

1) Does the audience really listen or do they just read the PowerPoint slides? It is good practice to keep your PowerPoint presentation under one hour, and try to only use the slides to enhance your speech. The less information you place on the slide the better…two to three bullet points works best. Don’t read the slides but rather, keep the slides simple and over a white background as many people print out the presentation. Ask the audience for questions as you go along so that the audience feels engaged.

2) How many head and hand movements are too many? Since more than half of all human communication takes place nonverbally, audiences judge us based on what they hear and what they see. It’s important to have control over your body language. Movement has to be supportive of the message. Your head, eyes, and facial expressions usually convey your true feelings so it’s important to communicate with sincerity to connect with your audience. Your hands can be used to express emotion and to emphasize a point. Don’t keep your hands in your pockets or behind your back.

3) How do I gain confidence and keep people entertained? It is important to talk about a subject you enjoy and that you know really well so that you can improvise and keep it light. By being yourself and telling a personal story or using appropriate humor, the audience will relate to you easier. Confidence comes with practice and your ability to give your speech with your own personal touch.

4) How do I prevent my face from getting red right before the speech? Visualize yourself giving a successful speech. Remain excited to share your information with your audience. Remember that the audience is interested in what you have to say and that they are your friends. Be sure to take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth before walking up to the microphone.

5) How do I handle client questions/interruptions? In order to control an audience and prevent them from interrupting your speech, it’s best to begin your speech by stating a simple outline such as how long the speech will take, and give a reminder to please turn off all cell phones. Make it very clear as to if and when you would like to hold a question and answer session and then begin your speech.

6) How can I create more opportunities to practice my speech? It is important to practice your speech as if there is an audience in front of you. This makes your speech important and you can feel the pressure. Try to practice your speech during a lunch break or create a group of two or three co-workers who also have to give a speech. That way you have support and are able to receive feedback from your peers.

7) How do I improve my openings and closings? Make sure you practice your openings and closings until you feel completely confident. Some people open with a quote, a statistic, or ask a question to the audience. When closing be sure to include a call to action and summarize your speech with a personal experience so that the audience can relate to your story.

8) What are the most common mistakes made in public speaking? Since speaking is an acquired skill, it’s important to prepare and rehearse so that you leave a great impression. Remember not to read your speech word for word but rather summarize key points. Share your enthusiasm on your subject and be sure to take time to personally meet several audience members before and after your speech.

9) How do I avoid the first five minutes of anxiety? To relieve nervous tension, try stretching and take a few deep breaths. Pretend to hear your favorite motivational song playing in your head to give you a sense of empowerment. Remember to smile when you begin your speech.

10) How do I make my speech stand out? It’s imperative to have an emotional connection with your audience by sharing your personal experiences so that your speech will be memorable. Try sharing a case study or tell a personal story. Be sure to include a brief explanation of who you are and your past accomplishments to establish credibility.

It’s important to address these ten presentation skills challenges so that your sales team will feel more confident when giving a speech. Being able to express yourself in a clear, confident manner is essential to your success. As you build your skills and gain confidence, you’ll learn how to plan and deliver your presentation in a professional manner. After practicing and honing your presentation skills, you will be able to speak confidently to both small groups and large audiences.

Scott Topper, three time Emmy Nominated TV Show Host, and Corporate Improv Skills Coach, helps organizations and individuals learn business improvisational skills and theatrical techniques to achieve better sales presentation results and gain confidence through his fun, interactive corporate presentation skills workshops. Scott offers a monthly coaching mentoring newsletter, and has authored over 30 public speaking books, audio books, workbooks, DVD’s, and downloadable confident speaking courses.