Still, the ability to speak well in front of a group is worthwhile skill to develop – especially if you’re an entrepreneur. Among other things, it can help you:
- Communicate effectively. People are more likely to buy your product or service if you can tell them about it in a way that gets them excited.
- Raise capital. The ability to persuade is a must if you plan to pitch your business idea to a group of investors.
- Market your business. Speaking engagements can be great ways to gain exposure for your product and yourself.
- Clarify your thinking. You have to take what’s in your head and present it in a way that makes sense to others.
- Challenge yourself. Preparing a talk requires time, effort and lots of practice. But you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment (and probably relief) after it’s over.
If you’re an older entrepreneur, you may be especially good at public speaking for a couple of reasons:
One, you have more stories to share. Audiences love interesting and/or entertaining anecdotes that illustrate key points. The longer you’ve been around, the more experiences you’ve accrued.
And two, you may have more tolerance for the unexpected. Whether it’s a missing handout or a typo on a PowerPoint slide, something will go wrong during a presentation. Forty-and-older people tend not to get as rattled by these things. They just go with the flow.
So where can you go for practice? Here are a few places to check out:
- Toastmasters International – A world leader in communication and leadership development.
- Ignite – A “geek event” in over 100 cities where presenters use 20 slides that auto advance to ensure a finish in five minutes.
- Dale Carnegie Training – Named after the man who wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
- Your local community college – It may offer a public speaking class.
Maybe no one has asked you to speak in front of a large group yet. But chances are that you’ll receive an invitation one day.
When it happens, swallow your fear. And say yes.