Ever Wanted To Pitch Your Startup, But Have Severe Anxiety When Public Speaking?
If you have dreams of growing your startup business, chances are you may face the opportunity to present your idea to an audience.
Now this isn’t to say that presenting your startup is a requirement by any means, but it certainly will help you get your name out there and in front of the right people.
For some, this is the nature of the game, and many entrepreneurs will leap at any opportunity to present their ideas to others, but for others, this idea fuels their nightmares.
If you happen to be an aspiring entrepreneur, but may not feel confident when speaking in public, don’t worry, you are certainly not alone.
In fact, it is estimated that up to 75% of the population suffers from some form of glossophobia (fear of public speaking).
In this article, we will discuss 5 easy tips to help you when you finally decide to present your startup to an audience.
1. Bring An Item (Ideally A Water Bottle) With You On Stage
During my freshman year of college, I took a class that solely focused on the art of public speaking.
On one of the very first days of the semester, I remember my professor asking how people can gain confidence when speaking and one of my classmates at the time responded with the idea of holding something in your hand while talking.
Ever since that day, the suggestion has stuck with me and I have used it ever since.
It makes perfect sense when you stop and really think about it. The majority of our fear of public speaking stems from how we believe we will be perceived by others as we present.
On presentation day, we often will pick out our best outfit, get cleaned up, and show up extra prepared to recite our material, but what about our body language?
So many people who prepare for their presentation focus solely on the material that will be presented, and thus when it comes time to speak, their arms are flailing all over the place when they speak and their mannerisms show their nervousness more than their words do.
The best way to combat this is to simply bring a water bottle, phone, hand-held mic, or anything that can fit in the palm of your hand in order to prevent excessive hand and arm motion.
In many situations where you feel a lot of pressure, a water bottle is an ideal item to have as it will give you more time to think when asked tough questions from an audience member.
In fact, many famous speakers use this strategy today, as you will see that whenever someone from the audience asks a difficult question, the speaker will take a drink of water which will allow him or her some time to think of their response.
Those that are calm and comfortable tend to move far less than those who are nervous, and this is one easy way to show your confidence even if deep down you are a little anxious.
2. Add A Unique Element To Your Presentation
Now I can’t say if this is a definitive tip, as this advice is given solely from my experience, however, it is a tactic that I use every time I speak.
This strategy came to my mind after I had given a speech in a U.S. government class during my senior year of high school.
I had spent several hours the previous night preparing for my presentation, planned out what I was going to wear, and had written dozens of responses for any potential question I could ever be asked about my topic.
Even though I had completely overprepared for a quick three-minute monologue, I had finished my speech feeling like I had just given the worst presentation ever and was certain that my classmates would laugh at me for the rest of the year.
In reality, though, my speech was met with unanimous praise from the audience as I had added a unique twist at the beginning that turned my not-so-interesting topic into one that the class was hooked to learn more about.
After this moment, I have used this tactic in every presentation I have given and it has worked wonders for me personally.
I have found that, by making a topic as interesting as possible to the audience, the audience will care more about the material than how it is being delivered.
Even if I criticize myself for stumbling on a few words, or speaking at a rushed pace, I have been met time and time again with a deep interest in the subject matter I touch on.
Try this tactic by adding something that people wouldn’t expect, and you will quickly notice that people will remember that moment more than your actual speech.
3. Think About The Audience
Ever heard the saying “you are your worst critic”?
In case you haven’t heard it a million times before, the members in the audience will not remember your slip-up during your presentation.
Unless of course, you say something extremely profound or if someone has some vendetta against you.
The reality is, we are all caught up in our own little worlds.
I can say with complete certainty that you will remember your embarrassing moments more than anyone else, while the audience will continue to live their everyday lives.
Before your presentation, it is important to take into consideration the environment that you will be speaking in and the audience you will be speaking to.
If you are pitching your startup, for example, the audience will likely be interested entrepreneurs and investors that are actually interested in hearing your material.
Although it may be nerve-wracking to think of questions investors may ask, realize that the audience is likely there only to support you.
This environment is completely contrary to a school or work presentation, where half of the audience members couldn’t care less about your material and are only thinking about their own presentations.
With interested audience members, you are more likely to receive constructive criticism or advice from those who genuinely care about your business and want to see you succeed.
4. Evaluate Your Outcomes
Just like I mentioned above, people tend to be their worst critics, and will often imagine a scenario that often never happens.
When evaluating your outcomes before a presentation it is crucial to consider what are the most REALISTIC results to occur from your performance.
In our heads, we overdramatize a scenario where the audience laughs at us or thinks negatively about us after a poor presentation, leaving us feeling like a failure.
However, in reality, the outcomes of your presentation will likely look like this:
Poor Performance – If you stumble during your presentation or have “awkward moments of silence” and are pitching your startup to an audience of potential investors, the audience will likely notice that you are nervous and move on.
The absolute worst thing that could result in this performance is that you don’t receive any investment opportunities, which you could always try again for in the future.
Unless someone in the audience has hated you for years, nobody will go home thinking what a terrible job you did on your presentation.
Great Performance – If you deliver a solid performance with confidence and have prepared responses for any questions, the audience will likely notice that you came prepared, and if they are interested in your idea, will be more likely to invest in your business.
So, in summary, the worst thing that can happen as a result of your presentation is that you do not receive the funding or desired outcome you wanted, which you could always try again to achieve.
5. DO NOT Memorize Your Material
If you are presenting your startup to a room of interested people, you are already at an advantage since you are knowledgeable and passionate about the idea being shared.
Since you know the material better than anyone else, it will be much easier to share your thoughts without being confined to a heavily-detailed script.
The other great advantage you have is that you are likely more prepared than the average person since you probably have shared your goals and ideas with others in the past.
With all of this being said, when you speak from the heart and make it clear what your goals are for your startup, people will be much more inclined to help you rather than if you were to simply recite notes on a piece of paper.
In conclusion, public speaking is a skill that many of us are a bit scared to practice.
With the majority of the world feeling the same adrenaline as you when you are up on stage, it should be noted that your fears are completely valid and it will not stop you from reaching success.
By using these simple tips outlined above, you can face your fears head-on and achieve success sooner rather than later.
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