Raising your voice: tips on public speaking and pitching for business people

Welcome to part one of our raising your profile series - keep an eye out for more articles coming up, and if there is anything you think we should cover throw it in the comments below.  

After years of working in the business community with founders and entrepreneurs, I have found a handful of core facts to be constants. Amongst them, is the fact that most people irrespective of where they are in their founder journey find public speaking and pitching uncomfortable, and challenging. When cornered, even the most outwardly confident people will admit that getting up on stage or addressing a room is something they would rather not do, instead, they make it work because they need to. 

Instead of giving you a top ten list of public speaking tips, we are going to break down the art of great public speaking into its five parts: 
 

The five essentials to keep in mind for public speaking success

Clarity | Preparation | What your audience wants | A speaking style that suits you | Research


Clarify what it is that you are talking about

The most natural things to explain to others are concepts or ideas that are simple, and which you fully understand. Keeping this in the back of your mind, think about how you deliver speeches to your team, your investors or your local meetup? 

Do you fully comprehend the things you are saying? 
Do you use plain English? 
Do people ask you for clarification afterward? Consistently? 

Use analogy to explain your points

Instead of asking your audience to understand complicated and foreign concepts you should liken the concept you are talking about to something simple and familiar using the power of analogy.
> Find out more about the power of analogy when delivering clear messaging here

Simplify your message down to a simple sentence

The process of taking complicated concepts and refining them down to an essential truth is not only great to clarify how you think and feel about it, BUT to also allow you to really understand and master your subject matter. 
> Find out more about the power of creating a one-sentence pitch here 

Never use a long word when a short word will do

Speaking in plain English, and removing jargon will make your public speaking compelling and enable everyone in the room to understand you. The above is actually tip care of George Orwell who outlines in an essay about politics and language, the importance of simplicity. 
> Read about the power of simple text when creating compelling messaging


Come prepared

Few "off the cuff" speeches are in-fact off the cuff, and most speakers that can navigate a presentation well have crammed the framework of what they are trying to get across into their head before meeting you. So why should it be any different for you? 

Speech outline examples

Sometimes, working out what you are going to say is more about working out the mechanics of how you are going to say it. Looking at conventional speech outlines, as in the way that people typically structure a speech can be just the thing you need to get going. 
> Read about the typical speech outlines, and how useftul they can be for you

Learn from those that do - and do well

As far as the art of public speaking goes, Toastmasters are pretty well recognised for their ability to help hone speaking skills. We actually run our own Toastmasters Club here for Collider which you can read about here. But, if you aren't able to attend one of our meetups it can be a good idea to find a local chapter or at least peruse their websites for handy tips and tricks. We found the amazing "14 steps for great speech preparation" linked below on a Toastmasters website from abroad. 
> Read the 14 Steps for great Speech Preparation here  


Think about what people want to hear from you

Your job as a speaker is to engage with the audience, to get them to listen to you. So try turning your presentation plan on it's head - don't think about what you want from them. Think about why they want from you. 

Show up to give

Audiences don't listen, they experience

Everyone has memories of being talked at by a teacher or a lecturer. The pure delivery of information will only get you so far, and great public speaking will touch on peoples empathy, desire and intrigue. 
> Read more about the need to build experience into your next speaking engagement

Ensure you and your audience care about the same thing

About to present your keynote to a crowd of 500? Why should they care about what you are speaking about? Delve into who your audience is - young professionals may want to know something different than the general public, and CEO's of established businesses will want something different again. Knowing what your audience cares about will help you pitch your story perfectly to their needs. 
>  What do the people you are talking to care about? 


There is more than one kind of speech...  so find a style that suits you

My husband and I often listen to radio and podcasts and laugh as people mimic Serial or Ira Glass. And I'm definitely the kind to sit in events thinking to myself "this person has watched a lot of TED talks". What I mean to say, is that in a world where speech is presented to us on the daily; people are looking not to hear the same old all the time. If you are nervous in front of big crowds, a natural introvert, or speak with a slight lisp then embrace that. Your speeches will shine for their uniqueness and hold in peoples minds. I have collected a group of keynotes and talks that do not confine to the usual style - good reminders to be oneself. 

Nat Cheshire speaking at Webstock

Tea Uglow speaking at Design Indaba

One of my favourite speakers, Tea has a disarming and excited quality to public speaking that is enthralling to watch. 
> Watch Tea in action at design Indaba here
 

Valentin Ozich at Semi Permanent


Do your research

Pitching for a particular investor? Thank you to the littany of startup and business events globally, there is likely a keynote with that investor hiding somewhere - where they outline what they do and don't like in pitches. Or in the case of this video from YC, a handy how-to from none other than Sam Altman. 


Penned by marketer, writer and content producer Anya - find more of her reckons here