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Speaking And Teaching For Entrepreneurs

Many entrepreneurs want to enhance their networking and sales abilities while earning extra money. One possibility is to begin public speaking or teaching classes or seminars related to your business.

There are several advantages to speaking publicly:

-You will polish your presentation skills and improve your ability to think on your feet. These skills could prove useful for pitching ideas to venture capitalists or angel investors. Plus, public speaking expertise can improve your ability as a salesperson. If you grow a larger company, practice speaking can make you a dynamic speaker at shareholder meetings.

-You will meet new people, some of whom might become valuable members of your personal network. A strong network of contacts is a powerful advantage for an entrepreneur.

-You might generate more business for your company. Many consultants, for example, find public speaking is a great way to prospect for new clients. Many financial planners and advisors enhance their client base through recognition achieved by public speaking.

-You might find that speaking, itself, is a pleasant source of income for you. In fact, there is an entire industry supporting communication and public speaking.

Speaking As A Business

Fred Gleeck, author of Speaking for Millions: The Inside Story on How to Make Really Big Money As a Professional Speaker, says that typical speaker fees start at about $2,000 plus expenses with many speakers earning more than $5,000 per speech. Semi-celebrities (names you'd probably recognize, but hardly big-time stars) often charge $20,000 per speech, plus expenses. Who ever said talk was cheap?

Many professional speakers align themselves with speakers' bureaus which match speakers with speaking gigs. Speakers' bureaus are to speakers what agents are to athletes and entertainers. Speakers' bureaus typically charge 15% to 20% of the speaker's fee. Most established bureaus are only interested in representing people who already have experience in professional public speaking.

Hiring A Professional Speaker

If you need to hire a professional speaker, Gleeck suggests these tips:

-Speaking fees are often negotiable.

-Ask for several references from organizations that have hired the speaker.

-Ask to see a demo tape of the speaker. However, Gleeck advises that many mediocre speakers might be able to create a great demo tape. So, don't depend upon a demo tape as the sole means of judging the quality of a speaker.

-Speak in person with the speaker and discuss the material and topic to be covered to prevent any misunderstanding of what you're looking for in the speech.

-Ask if the speaker offers a money-back guarantee. While many speakers don't offer such guarantees, Gleeck suggests that quality speakers should be willing to offer a money-back guarantee if they perform poorly.

The Seminar Business

In addition to public speaking at events, there is a substantial industry providing training and seminars.

Gleeck, also author of another bestselling book, Marketing And Promoting Your Own Seminars And Workshops, says that the business of providing seminars has the potential to earn an individual several hundred thousand dollars a year or even upwards of a million dollars a year. He says that the seminar business also provides the opportunity to learn new things, travel, and be an onstage ham, if you want.

Why ham-it-up a bit during a seminar or speech? After surveying thousands of individuals about the characteristics great public speakers have, Gleeck found three dominant results: Great speakers are sincere, knowledgeable, and humorous.

How do you know if you're humorous? Gleeck writes: "It's only funny if they laugh. The definition of funny must come from the people receiving the message. I don't care if you think a joke is funny. I don't care if your family thinks it is funny. It is not funny if people don't laugh."

That's a truism many people outside the entertainment field don't contemplate. Two individuals could sit around all day debating the quality of a dramatic feature film--one person arguing the film is high quality and the other arguing it's horrible. But, there isn't much to debate with comedy. Go ahead and try to convince people that There's Something About Mary isn't a funny film!

Getting Started In Public Speaking

Getting started in public speaking is easy. One of the most important keys is to be prepared for any speech you give. Don't be taken by surprise by being unprepared. Know your topic well. Practice your speech. Know the layout of the room in which you'll be speaking.

Another key to success in speaking is practice. Consider joining an organization such as Toastmasters to help you develop public speaking ability. Toastmasters is open to all levels of speakers including people entirely new to speaking. It will provide you the opportunity to participate in speeches delivered to a local Toastmasters' Chapter.

Principles of good speech writing can also be studied. For example, Gleeck says that people love lists. Gleeck writes, "People find it easy to learn when you give them a very specific number of things that they either should or shouldn't do." Only focus upon a few main, easily digestible points in your speech.

As you improve, you might consider joining a professional speakers' organization such as The National Speakers Association. By this time, you'll learn advanced pre-speech preparation, including avoiding caffeine before a speech (if you're nervous, it'll only wire you even more), avoiding milk (creates phlegm), going to the bathroom before the speech (just in case), and turning nervous energy into excitement.

Fear Of Public Speaking

Many entrepreneurs avoid public speaking because, like many people, they have a fear of public speaking. In fact, many people claim they fear public speaking as much as they fear death, even though they realize there is little reason to fear public speaking.

The psychology of phobias and fears is well understood. A great book for overcoming fears and phobias of any kind is Fear No More: A Psychotherapist's Guide For Overcoming Your Anxieties And Phobias by Diane Hailparn. Unfortunately, the book is out-of-print. But, your local library might have a copy, and, if it doesn't, the library can probably order the book for you via interlibrary loan.

Hailparn explains that people who develop phobias tend to be creative, imaginative, self-conscious, and very sensitive to other people's reactions. They want to please other people. They also tend to be "What If?" thinkers.

These are all very positive traits. Unfortunately, phobic people tend to turn their high perception and imagination against themselves in a cycle of vicious feedback. They anticipate negative outcomes. They worry about what can go wrong. Then, they notice they are frightened by the thought of giving the speech. They fear they will be afraid during the speech. They fear an attack of panic and that they will be humiliated. They start to dread public speaking. They fear fear.

To help overcome a fear of public speaking, insulate your sensitivity a bit and realize that it's OK not to be a perfect speaker. Don't let yourself engage in negative self-talk about what can go wrong or how frightened you are. Dwelling upon a fear only strengthens the fear. Force yourself to do something else to take your thoughts away from negative thinking. Use your imagination to visualize a successful speech. Burn off the stress with exercise.

Gleeck says you shouldn't try to act like a professional speaker or it will look like you are acting. Gleeck says, "Audience members want real people, with real stories, not puppets." Be yourself, only more so.

How do you balance the need to give a great speech with the calming awareness that it's OK to bobble a line or two or not give a perfect speech? Gleeck says that you shouldn't focus upon yourself. Rather, focus upon your topic and delivering great information that your audience will find valuable.

It's a shame to let a phobia hinder your life. Career experts suggest a fear of public speaking holds many people back in their careers. So, the people who might benefit the most from doing a little public speaking are those who fear it most. Plus, an extra $2,000 to $5,000 for a day's work isn't bad.