Top tips for public speaking
Are you a confident public speaker? When you have your own shoe brand, you become the face, and the voice of your company. Whether you’re giving a 1 minute pitch at a networking event, being interviewed on a podcast, or you’re the guest speaker at a conference, you’ll want to be able to talk well and confidently. That’s why I was thrilled to be able to ask iVerbalize Director and Chief Verbalizer ‘Ronke Kokoruwe to share her top tips on public speaking with you.
A lawyer for many years, and a mother of three children, ‘Ronke knows how to speak and be heard. She founded her company iVerbalize in 2017, and now helps adults and children to communicate with greater ease and clarity.
It’s quite difficult to provide an exclusive and conclusive answer to that question. Both sexes have self-doubt and experience similar levels of anxiety and self-doubt but it would appear to me that women express these fears more.
There is probably an underlying fear with many women of talking too much, coming across as bossy or aggressive or ‘shamelessly self-promoting’ which stifles the confidence to speak up in public settings.
I have noticed that many women do tend to hold back more and shy away from stepping forward to speak up first in mixed settings and really have to work hard to put themselves forward. Nonetheless, once those steps are taken to shift away from being a spectator to the speaker, it really is a level playing field.
2. Networking events often expect attendees to give a 1 minute summary of their businesses in front of the group. What are your top tips for crafting and delivering the perfect 1 minute pitch?
Asking a question or sharing a quote to grab the attention of the group is a great way to start and can be used to get the group thinking about the service that you offer. Dare to be different and memorable! I have kicked off my pitch at some events with the first line of Whitney Houston’s legendary song, ‘The Greatest Love of All’ when sharing about the work I do with children. I have even been tempted to sing it even though I am no Whitney.
Find your Unique Selling Point, be yourself and engage the group by looking around and utilising strong eye contact. A smile is always a powerful secret weapon!
Keeping the pitch short, clear and exciting enough to ideally spark further discussion is a good idea. Aim to stick to the time limit; it becomes uncomfortable for everyone when a 1 minute pitch expands into a keynote speech.
Finishing off enthusiastically with your name, business name and a simple call to action such as where or how to view or explore your product or service is usually a good idea.
Ultimately practice is key, so practise, practise, practise your pitch in front of a mirror, friends or whoever will listen; use any opportunity you can get until it becomes natural – you can keep tweaking it until it becomes almost perfect!
3. How can we avoid being talked over by other people in meetings?
It’s important to speak authoritatively without giving any sort of impression that you expect to be interrupted. For starters, please do not apologise when you start speaking for what you are about to say or for being in that meeting irrespective of how you are ‘feeling at the time!’ Maintain short pauses with the right momentum as you speak, ensuring your voice is loud and clear.
Also, depending on the situation, you can be proactive by introducing what you plan to say and before you start talking, to stipulate when it’s okay to jump in with comments or questions. Aim to build an atmosphere of encouraging everyone to be heard fully before others jump in! When interruptions do occur though, you can politely state that you are not yet done & that you would like to finish making your point. Personally, I would not focus on this being too much of a gender thing as I have seen both men and women be talked over by both men and women in various settings!
Finally, it is important to understand that people interrupt for all sorts of reasons so if the interruptions are persistent, it would be helpful to speak to the person in private. Give the interrupting ‘culprit’ the benefit of the doubt; as they may not even realize their actions. Discuss your observations and the effect it has on you and possibly on others. This type of honest discourse could potentially be a game changer.
4. What’s your top tip for ensuring nerves don’t take over when we’re giving a speech in front of people?
Remember why you are there and make it more about the audience than about yourself. Remember that they are rooting for you and want you do to well. Deep breathing and smiling also go a long way in taming those nerves but there is no substitute for being well prepared and having a firm grasp of your material.
5. Do you have a method you can share for keeping an audience’s attention when you’re giving a speech?
Injecting relevant stories into your speech is powerful – personal stories usually create a sense of connection and get the audience listening. Engaging your listeners with questions, finding connections between you and them and using humour that is appropriate and relevant is usually a winner. Remember that laughter is food for the soul and keeps listeners interested! It is usually helpful to have a clear understanding of the make-up of the audience to gauge what to share.
Keeping sentences short and cutting out any jargon which can lose them or give them a signal that it is time to switch off and start thinking about their weekend plans, or that TV programme they missed, etc. is worth paying attention to.
Finding the right pitch and pace of your voice and varying it accordingly also helps to keep the audience on the same page with you, as well as strong body language.
It may all seem like a lot to remember but it all goes back to preparation and planning which helps to bring it all together seamlessly.
6. On a more personal note, how can you get a toddler or child to listen to you without shouting at them?
Gosh, is there a way?
I have found that following through consistently with appropriate consequences after clear boundaries have been put in place is incredibly helpful! When the child knows where they stand and you remain calm, remembering that you are the adult, it is easier for speaking and listening to take place without a shouting match!
Also children are much more likely to follow through with a request when it is made face to face, eye to eye and sometimes physical contact can help.
Finally and probably most importantly, be willing to apologise when you get it wrong. I have had to say sorry to my 3 children on numerous occasions for shouting at them; thankfully most children are incredibly forgiving (well most of the time ! )
7. Does this method work in meetings too?
Consequences, boundaries, remaining calm, apologising? Wouldn’t it be amazing if this worked with adults in meetings!!
Let’s try the face to face; eye to eye method but without the physical contact and hope that works! Good luck!
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, and sharing your top tips for public speaking ‘Ronke.
Find out more about ‘Ronke, iVerbalize, and how they can help you communicate confidently and effectively:
‘Ronke is available for 1-2-1 coaching sessions and runs the women’s speak up coaching group in Bromley, Kent. UK.
Now you’re feeling more confident, it’s time to create your PR strategy. Which networking groups and events should you be attending? How can you make people excited about your brand with your 1 minute pitch? How can you get strategic media coverage without paying high agency fees?
I’d love to help you decide how to spread the word about your amazing shoe brand. Just send me a message to find out how you can receive my personal advice on PR and all other aspects of making your footwear brand a success.