In a recent Quora chat, a user asked the question, “What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given as an entrepreneur?” The question generated some enlightening responses, but one that stood out from the pack was this, from Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora.
Learn public speaking.
“Of all the skills that an entrepreneur can have, I think the ability to convey an idea or opportunity, with confidence, eloquence and passion is the most universally useful skill,” Westergren said. “Whether you’re pitching a group of investors, rallying your employees, selling a customer, recruiting talent, addressing consumers, or doing a press tour, the ability to deliver a great talk is absolutely invaluable. And it is perhaps THE most under-recognized and under-nurtured skill.”
One’s comfort with public speaking, particularly as it relates to their business plan or idea, will rub off on investors. If they feel you’ve got a grip on the situation, they’re much more likely to take a chance on your company.
To improve your public speaking skills, here are some things you can do.
One: Perfect your elevator pitch.
Condensing your idea into simple terms that can clearly communicate idea and vision is essential to the success of your business. That’s why the elevator pitch is so effective. Stand in front of the mirror. Time yourself. Practice walking through the pitch until it’s clean as a whistle and as short as possible.
Two: Let there be eye contact.
Good eye contact can make up for a lot of imperfections. Practice it with everyone you meet. Resolve never to be the first person to look away, and the habit will form.
Three: Speak clearly.
Everyone uh’s and um’s, but when you can’t speak to a potential customer or investor without sounding like Dennis Rodman, you’ve got a serious problem.
Finally: Anticipate what others will say.
That above video is a great example of why being married to your talking points is a bad idea. Rodman sounds like a buffoon when George Stephanopolous leans on him about his relationship with dictator Kim Jong Un.
Once you’ve learned your business inside-out, you’ve got to be prepared for what others will say, because they may raise some valid points and concerns that need to be addressed. If you’re caught blindsided, it’ll be very difficult to earn others’ confidence. And that’s important because no business exists in a vacuum. There’s always a client or customer or investor that you need to impress. With that said, public speaking skills go a long way in deciding how you’re perceived.
Do you agree with Tim Westergren that public speaking is one of the greatest skills you can have as an entrepreneur? Let us know in the comments section below.[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]