Getting Started with Public Speaking To Help Network Your Business!

It’s not written in stone that you have to get up in front of a large audience and put on a full, two-hour presentation. There are many ways to get started with public speaking: The trick is to find ways that are within your comfort zone – and then move yourself slightly out of it with each mode you conquer.

1. Get Comfortable Online

Create a small Skype or Google Hangout workshop for people you know well – and who you know would be supportive.

Think: Members of any active forum you belong to, your Facebook industry intimates, fellow Facebook Group members, or online friends that share the same hobby or career as you.

Make it small and on one topic you have already mastered.

Better yet, make your group Hangout a regular feature, so that you grow really comfortable presenting to others.

2. Host a Local Workshop

Do you belong to any local business organizations? Then offer to host a local workshop on a topic you know well.

Prepare handouts: A feedback form rating your performance and asking for suggestions and a tip sheet, or summary of the points you made, or outline of the methods you used. (Lists of resources are a popular handout too.)

3. Take Courses that Include Public Speaking

In addition to courses actually focusing on public speaking, try storytelling courses. Storytelling is a vital component of public speaking.

4. Volunteer to Give a Storytelling Session in your Child’s School

You may be amazed at how responsive even the most rambunctious audience will be. Children naturally love stories, and if you can successfully tell a story to your own children – or you’ve just taken a storytelling course – you can do this at a school.

5. Join a Storytelling Circle

Many cities have professional storytellers who host regular, informal storytelling circles or sessions. Join and sit in at first; then when you are comfortable with the venue, the audience and the format, learn a story. When the host asks for volunteers – step forward.

6. Give Free Short Mini-Talks at Local Business Meetings

Local business organizations are always looking for guest speakers. Hone your skills by volunteering to give mini-talks on a single topic. Keep them to fifteen minutes or less. That way, you are not responsible for an entire event – just a small segment of it – and you can get your feet wet in comfort.

7. Be the Lifesaver Hero or Heroine

Another surprisingly common scenario at local business organization meetings: Scheduled speakers being a no-show. This happens for a variety of reasons – missed phone calls, wrong dates, car trouble, nerves… The point is, be the one who is heroically ready to fill the gap.

Before every local business meeting, have a short speech totally prepared and practiced on a relevant topic (particularly on the topic that was scheduled, if you can manage it).

The practice will help diffuse your own “nerves” and help you improve your skills – even if you never give your speech that day – and if the organizer calls desperately for someone to fill in, you are right there, ready to save the day.

8. Create a Paid Product

Feel free to pre-record your speech and use it to promote your services. The trick is making sure that the speech itself is as value-rich as your paid services – and that both are unique, original and exactly what your audience needs.

Those are eight ways to dip your foot into the stream of public speaking. Now let’s see how we can accelerate your public speaking career by helping your good reputation spread like wildfire…

9. Live Public Speaking

Even if you only have a gig or two under your belt, live your dream with passion. If you do – if all your focus for now is on developing your career in public speaking – you will find yourself naturally “talking it up” about your VA business with genuine enthusiasm.

Let people know why you love giving presentations, what you specialize in, what you have to offer – and most of all, let them know you are available.

10. Carry Business Cards

Make sure you always carry business cards, and when you do talk up your public speaking abilities, hand out more than one card per person. Ask people to pass them on if they know someone who might find hiring you the solution to a problem.

11. Specialize

While many entrepreneurs are quite capable of speaking well on a variety of topics to a variety of audiences, your best strategy lies in specializing – becoming known as the expert in one specific area of one niche field.

12. Attend Conferences and Meet-ups

These are great places to make connections in your own niche or industry. Even if you don’t find anyone there to hire you, networking strong personal contacts can lead to recommendations from those contacts.

13. Volunteer

Offer to speak at your local Chamber of Commerce, civic groups, and other business and service-oriented organizations. Many offer monthly meetings and are always on the hunt for speakers, so it’s a great way to build up your speaking chops while helping out a good cause.

14. Join Groups

Do this for online and offline groups that include or focus on public speaking. So not just your local Toastmasters chapter, but also local business organizations that need and use speakers at every meeting, as well as focused LinkedIn and Facebook Groups.

These organizations can give you plenty of practice – and exposure.

15. Just Ask!

Approach organizations you want to speak to. Find out the name of the correct person to contact – and send a query letter.

Outline either one huge benefit to the organization or list three to five strong benefits. Give them the same promise you would include in your speech.