Being an Entrepreneur Means You’re Also a Public Speaker

December 16, 2015

10:00 pm

Does the phrase “public speaking” send shivers down your spine? Do your palms start to sweat and your mind starts to think of ways you can avoid opening your mouth?

If this is your reaction, you’re not alone. According to the Chapman University Survey on American Fears, public speaking is America’s biggest phobia. Among those surveyed, 25.3 percent reported public speaking as their single biggest fear, far more than a fear of heights, drowning, and zombies. So, you’re telling me that the majority of people would rather face the zombie apocalypse than stand on a stage and talk?

Perhaps that fear of public speaking is so elevated because the phrase invokes images of exactly that: standing on a stage in front of everybody. Alone. Hundreds of eyes watching you. Everyone waiting to hear what you have to say, hanging on each word.

Would we be so terrified of public speaking if we thought about it as like we do with casual talk while sipping wine at a cocktail party? How about when leading a team meeting or on a video call with a potential investor?

If you’re an entrepreneur forging your path as the founder of a company, then you should think of all of these situations – meetings, parties, phone calls, emails, etc – as public speaking opportunities. As an entrepreneur, you should become a one-person band singing your story from the proverbial rooftops. You should think of any opportunity you have to share your story, pitch your company, or make an ask of others as engaging in public speaking.

You want to have a nice hook to grab the attention of your audience – whether an investor at a meeting or a group of fellow founders at a cocktail party. Next, you want to craft a concise pitch for your company. Practice this short pitch and have it down cold for any situation.

Whenever you’re chatting up your venture, consider your eye contact and hand gestures. As much as possible, maintain eye contact with your audience. Using your hands is fine, but do so in a way that is appropriate for the situation and not distracting.

When you shift your definition of public speaking from something that happens only on stage to something that happens everyday, then you can help to build your own confidence. Many people fear public speaking because they don’t see themselves as speakers or don’t feel they have much experience speaking.

With this mindset shift, though, you will realize that you have a lot of experience as a speaker, especially on behalf of your company. You can work on improving your speaking skills in smaller, less intimidating settings than in front of a large audience. As you take these smaller steps, you will be more ready to impress when your moment in the spotlight does arrive.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Kathleen Hale is an experienced entrepreneur and public speaking coach. She is the co-founder and the CEO of Rebel Desk, a company that designs and sells standing and treadmill desks to help people be more active while they work. Kathleen also is the creator of Chair Free Project, a resource to help people move more and use chairs less. She writes, speaks and educates others about the many benefits of pushing your chair aside and living more actively. In addition to spreading the "chair free" message, Kathleen uses her background as a speaker, trial attorney and performer to coach other entrepreneurs on public speaking and pitch presentations.

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