If you are a small business owner like me then you probably want to grow your business and see it achieve the vision you had for it when you first started out. Right?
Let’s hope the answer is yes and you are still reading!
There are a number of business attributes you need in order to make your ambitions a reality and credibility is one of them.
It’s simple, because the more credible you are the easier it is to attract clients. The more clients get to know, like and trust you, the more they want to work with you. As a result your credibility increases and so the virtuous circle goes on. Before you know it the growth of your business has flipped into warp speed…
Sounds good hey?
So today I’m going to let you know one of the quickest ways to build credibility among your target audience.
Find your little voice
Do you remember the film Little Voice starring Jane Horrocks? The main protagonist, Lara, suffered from social anxiety and was incredibly shy but she also had a fabulous voice and an amazing ability to mimic musical Grande Dames. (It’s well worth watching if you haven’t seen it.) Well, I’m not going to say that you need to become an impressionist to standout, although I’m sure it would add colour to any presentation if you belted out a bit of Judy Garland. But one of the most effective ways to build credibility is to stand up and present to a room of people, regardless of how big or small. When you take center stage you are seen as the expert. Like Lara in Little Voice, for some people it can take a lot of courage to stand up and present, for others they are only too eager to perform. Regardless of which camp you fall into, however, the more you do it the easier it will get.
Even the most confident of people will suffer from nerves initially but if you follow these steps you will soon be presenting like a pro.
No.1 – Have a clear presentation
You need to have a clear, well thought-out presentation so that you can get your main points across but you must also guide and signpost your audience so that you keep them with you, especially if your talk lasts longer than 15 minutes.
A great presenter is clear, concise and builds a story. It really is a lot like reading a good book. Okay, there is a beginning, middle and end but there is also a rhythm, a pace, a rug pulling moment and just like a good book a fab presentation leaves you wanting more. So don’t be a bore at your talks; be exciting, inspiring and energizing and leave your audience feeling they want more.
Here are my key steps to making a smarter presentation:
- A month before your talk, yes a month, set time aside to work on your presentation.
- Mind map your thoughts or write them down on post it notes and throw them up on a wall and group them into segments. It’s really helpful to get everything out of your head.
- Ask yourself what is the primary take-away from each segment? What would you like the people sitting in the audience to do as a result of listening to your talk?
- Create your presentation. Lots of people ask should you use PowerPoint or Prezi or something else and really it’s up to you. Being colourful, interesting and memorable is the key – some people do this merely but standing up and speaking but others create great graphics that support their talk and signpost the audience.
No.2 Practice, Practice, Practice
I have to admit there are some people who don’t practice their presentations and are able to just show up and deliver. They might write their talk on the day of the event or, at the earliest, the day before, and some people don’t even do that – wow what a skill! BUT, for most of us, and I include myself, knowing your stuff in advance and then rehearsing is an essential part of success. So here are my tips for getting it right:
- Start off by rehearsing on your own.
- Then rehearse in front of a friend that can critique your presentation and give you helpful pointers. (HOT TIP ALERT – make sure your friend is good at presenting so that you are getting guidance from a pro as opposed to your husband, wife, best friend, mum or dad unless they are, of course, fabulous… at presenting).
- Finally, rehearse in front of one or two business colleagues. Again make sure it’s people whose opinion you respect and they have a certain amount of experience at presenting.
- Tone of voice and pace are incredibly important when you’re presenting. I often speak way too fast and have to be told, or tell myself, to slow down. For others it’s about dropping your voice – this is especially important for women as men’s voices are much lower and lower voices are generally easier to listen to.
- Make sure you take questions at the end of your talk and prepare answers on relevant subjects. Of course no one is ever sure which questions will be asked but you can usually make an educated guess and it helps to be as prepared as possible.
No.3 – How do I look?
Make an effort when presenting. I always plan my outfit in advance and make sure I dress in layers as rooms can often vary in temperature. To be honest, I have bad hair days most days. I’m just not great at blow drying or even straightening my hair – some things are sent to try us in life… However, when I have something super important coming up I go to the hairdressers and it makes me feel better in the build-up to the event. As soon as I start speaking though I forget how I look and what I am wearing and just focus on delivering the best presentation I can and being useful to my audience.
So there you have it, the hottest tip for building credibility fast is to get yourself speaker slots at appropriate events. They could be networking events, conferences, breakfast meetings or even your own training sessions. Building credibility fast doesn’t mean doing things slap dash, however, and you should always be ready to give your best. Creating a positive impact and reflecting on your personal experiences as a service provider can help you to connect with audiences, earn their trust and establish your credibility. Now it is just up to you to get those speaker slots in your diary and to make the most of the opportunities.
And don’t forget…
- If you found this blog helpful, post on your Facebook page, Twitter or Pinterest accounts or Google+ page and spread the inspiration.
- Leave a comment below letting me know what you think and why. We would love to hear from you.