The man begins to speak. The room is at first filled with the mutter of impatient men and women; this is the last event on a busy but mostly boring schedule.
The speaker leans casually on a desk at the front of the room. He shifts position frequently, walking to different points, drawing the growing attention of the gathering. As time passes, his voice rises, falls, pauses, exclaims, explains, and pulls the listeners into his words. The man is a master at good public speaking.
While I had never heard him before that day, and probably would never hear him again, the control he demonstrated in that presentation was marvelous. Every motion, every intonation, and every word served a single purpose – to draw the attention of the crowd. He never forced us to listen to him; he just made his message so appealing that we eagerly gave him our undivided attention.
Skill at public speaking is a powerful tool in the hands of everyone from politicians to teachers. For an entrepreneur, public speaking serves multiple purposes, which can generally be divided into the two categories of public outreach and private enrichment.
Publicly, an entrepreneur who can speak powerfully and clearly can rally support for his company or his cause. Good public speaking generates good public relations as well. An entrepreneur with rhetoric skills can build a sense of trust as well as a connection between the speaker and the audience. That connection gives the entrepreneur tools to work with; he can try to convert an audience to his cause or brand, inspire others to support his efforts, and develop that support for his own leadership. All of these benefits stem from an entrepreneur’s engagement with the public, which in turn relates back to good public speaking skills.
When public speaking, an entrepreneur has an incredible opportunity to invite others to consider his product or service. A speaker naturally commands credibility, and the audience is more apt to trust and consider what the speaker is offering, granted the speaker positions his product or service in relation to his talk.
But for an entrepreneur, the skills learned from speaking in public go beyond simply gathering a large audience. Public speaking teaches critical thinking, how to command attention, and the ability to read an audience. By thinking critically about his message, an entrepreneur is forced to evaluate his own strengths and weaknesses. This strengthens his message and helps weed out any weak or distracting elements that would lessen its appeal. As the entrepreneur applies that critical thinking to his public speaking, he can fine-tune his message to command the attention of his audience. Audience engagement further strengthens the entrepreneur’s brand or company, building a loyal base. Finally, public speaking helps the entrepreneur engage his audience better by reading them: analyzing both the audience and the message and finding ways to bring the two together. Ideally, this results in an entrepreneur who can not only recruit people to his own cause but who can also identify and respond to the needs of his audience or market.
Additionally, good public speaking skills help to grow a business by developing good speaking skills one-on-one. The same abilities that help a speaker in public – to think critically, command attention, and read an audience – also help private conversation. For an entrepreneur, skill at public speaking often means skill in private negotiation, the ability to seal the deal.
In the end, public speaking is not simply an outward exercise; it enables an entrepreneur to gather public and private support for his cause and product. For the entrepreneurially-minded man, good public speaking can be a huge key to success.