Tips to be a Better Public Speaker

public speaking tipsIn addition to countless other responsibilities, many CEOs and business owners serve as the face of their brand. There may be no better opportunity to fulfil this exacting duty than by appearing before audiences as a public speaker. It’s a powerful way to showcase your business and communicate the depth of your industry expertise.

But the art of public speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Even those who are adept in this field always look for ways to improve their performance. If you regularly receive invitations to address a public forum—or if you’re just starting out—here are tips for becoming a more compelling (and sought-after) public speaker:

View your material through the eyes (and ears) of your audience. Some speakers forget that the people they’re addressing don’t know as much as they do about a given topic. They fall into the habit of speaking “over” their audience—using jargon or technical language, rushing through complex material without offering sufficient explanation, and so on.

One way to overcome this trait is by breaking down your subject matter and finding ways to explain material in brief, easy-to-understand sections. Make sure people understand the first idea you want to convey before moving on to other topics. Use simple language as much as possible, to increase the likelihood your audience follows as you progress through your presentation.

Enhance your communications skills. Eye contact and clear enunciation are two of the most valuable skills a public speaker can possess. Rather than reading from a prepared speech, practice looking up at your audience and making eye contact with people in the back of the venue, in the middle and up front. This helps you connect with the audience and enhances their willingness to trust what you have to say.

When speakers get nervous, they often speak faster and lose people due to poor enunciation. Practice speaking slowly and making sure you pronounce clearly (and loud enough for those in the back to hear). This approach will lend greater impact to what you want to convey.

Vary speech patterns and use more body language. No one will pay attention for long if you simply stand before the lectern and deliver your speech in a monotone. Carefully review the content of your presentation beforehand and look for places to modulate your delivery, adding emphasis to key parts and vary the way you talk.

Equally important, adapt gestures and other body language to accompany your speech. “Make sure your gestures and words are synonymous,” advises business communications expert Jill Schiefelbein. If you itemise a series of key points, “make sure the numbers you’re saying match the number of fingers you’re holding up.” Also, walk around on-stage and “move to transition between points or stories or characters.”

Practice, practice, practice. Every public speaking expert says the same thing: Practice until you’ve got your presentation down cold. Rehearse before a small group of friends, colleagues or family members, and invite their feedback and suggestions. Rehearse in front of a mirror. Make a video of your presentation, then watch it with both the sound turned on and off. This will make you more conscious of how your body language syncs up with your words.

Practising is an effective way “to combat your nerves when the time comes,” says serial entrepreneur Jennifer Spencer. “Muscle memory takes over your brain, and you begin to deliver your message without flaw.” It’s essential to “steady your nerves at kickoff time.”

Delivering an informative and engaging presentation will boost awareness of your brand and your status as an influential thought leader. That’s more than enough ROI to justify the time and effort needed to become a great public speaker.

Want to learn more about high-level communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

5 Tips for Monitoring Your Competitor’s Marketing Strategy

 

 

 No matter how unique their product or service, every business has a competitor (or more than one). This is probably a good thing because it means no CEO or business owner can become complacent or believe there’s no threat to his or her company’s well-being.

Competitors are a fact of life. The trick, in terms of crafting your company’s marketing message, is knowing what the “other guy” is saying and how well their message is being received by the target audience.

Here are five tips for staying on top of your competitor’s marketing strategy:

1. Monitor changes in their website. Just as your business has put a great deal of time, energy and resources into building a customer-friendly website, so the competition has also worked hard to craft a high-functioning business website. When was the last time you looked closely at the competitor’s web pages, scrutinising the look and feel of the site, its content and images, and so on? Try viewing their site through a customer’s eyes. See how well you can navigate from homepage to purchase page (and everywhere in between). After taking this “tour,” make a point to stop by every couple of months and see if they have added new functions or changed their design. Watch for any changes, subtle or otherwise, in their key marketing points.

2. Track their activity on social media. Presuming your business has a vibrant social media presence, it’s safe to assume the competition reaches out to followers on several platforms as well. Which platforms do they favour—Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? What does their business profile look like? Does it appear to convey a more compelling or emotional message than your own profile page? There’s nothing wrong with choosing to “Like” or “Follow” your competitor on social media. This way you can keep track of any special offers or announcements they share with their customers, as well as any big changes in their marketing approach.

3. Analyse the content they offer. Whether it’s blog posts, podcasts, customer testimonial videos or webinars, the content your competitor offers to customers and prospects might be coming across more effectively than your own. Generally speaking, it’s possible to determine how widely an article or case study is shared among followers, which will give you a better idea of what type of content your customers value most. (It can also spark your own creative impulses to come up with value-added topics.)

4.  Set up a Google Alert. This is an easy way to monitor how often your competition is mentioned online. Type in a handful of industry-relevant keywords in the Google Alert (including the name of your own business) and regularly check on who’s talking about competitors and why. This may be quite valuable in assessing how well the other guy’s marketing message is performing in the eternal hunt for new customers.

5. Look at competitors through a customer’s eyes. Marketing expert Jim Joseph suggests engaging in “shopping trips to try out your competitors’ customer experience, both online and in-store.” Study and analyse their approach to customer service, along with the quality and variety of their products and services, and how they are “sourced, merchandised and priced.” This will tell you a lot about their marketing efforts—and where they may be cutting into your customer acquisition efforts as well.

The information you gain from monitoring the competition shouldn’t just be compiled and left on a shelf. Use this research to pinpoint any areas of deficiency in your own marketing efforts and make changes as necessary. Look for new ways to attract prospects through social media and upgrades in your website. Do everything possible to make your own customers’ buying experience as unique as possible. See how well you can leave the competition in the dust.

Want to learn more about marketing and competitive research? Want to achieve marketing and management excellence? Listen to this free recording  http://info.thealternativeboard.com/strategic-marketing-and-management

 

How to Motivate and Recognise Your Sales Team

 

 

Assembling a high-performing sales team is challenging enough, but that’s just the start of any focused sales effort. With quality salespeople in place, the next task is determining how best to motivate and recognise the hard work they do on your company’s behalf.

Sadly, this often gets overlooked. Businesses frantically working to qualify sales leads and outmanoeuvre their competition sometimes neglect the basic need to inspire people and reward them for their achievements.

If your sales team’s performance has been lacklustre or you sense that morale is slipping, keep these tips in mind:

Make sure salespeople trust their manager. The success of your sales efforts depends on the quality of the relationship between the sales manager and his or her team. Trust is essential. The key to trust, says marketing veteran Sujan Patel, is to “be as direct and straightforward as possible” with your team, addressing issues rather than avoiding them and staying focused on “having a helping mindset.”

Set clear, achievable and “breakthrough goals.” Every salesperson must achieve a goal. It’s how success is defined within any organization. Reaching a certain quota is an obvious goal, but the degree of motivation this instils may differ from one person to the next. Take some time to ascertain what specific goals—both professional and personal—might be the most inspiring for each team member.

At the same time, consider setting what Training Industry calls a “breakthrough goal.” This represents “a level of performance beyond anything that your team has reached before, and should by all accounts be just a bit beyond your combined capabilities.” Like aiming to put the first man on the moon, initial attempts may prove unsuccessful, but “seeing just how much more the team is capable of should go a long way toward inspiring everyone.”

 

Build a company culture of recognition. Generally speaking, salespeople are just as motivated by reward and recognition as any other employee. Of course, monetary rewards are important, but they’re not the only way to acknowledge an individual who works hard and succeeds at what he or she does.

Look for opportunities to honour both the individual and team when they meet or exceed monthly or quarterly sales quotas. Sponsor a brief “honours ceremony” and reward these individuals with bonuses or other perks. Post online articles and videos about the sales team, showing them working collaboratively and celebrating their triumphs. Help everyone within your company understand the importance of supporting and recognizing sales.

Over time, these practices will become an integral part of your business culture. It won’t be necessary to “re-invent the wheel” when it comes to reward and recognition. Everyone will understand the ways in which your business demonstrates its appreciation for their sales efforts.

Offer greater responsibility. Depending on your business, there may be opportunities to recognize individual performance by offering positions (or projects) that require greater responsibility. You may have a salesperson who, in addition to achieving significant goals, has demonstrated newfound leadership skills. Training this person to become a manager (if that aligns with his or her personal ambitions) might prove deeply motivational in terms of both personal and professional growth.

In general, the strongest motivator is demonstrating your confidence in the team. Avoid micromanagement. Let salespeople know that, while mistakes may happen and “surefire deals” don’t always close, you’re not interested in casting blame. Instead, “emphasise the value of learning from the experience and doing better the next time.”

This may be the most inspiring message you can deliver to your team.

Want to learn more about the technology and communications? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

 

Hire the Right Attitude

You can improve customer service and product knowledge through training – however, hiring someone who has a poor attitude or is not a fit for your company will not be successful in the long run. That hire may actually harm the overall company morale. Use DISC or other behavioural assessments to ensure a good fit.

TAB Winnipeg Board 401, tab-winnipeg.com