Speaking in front of a group is daunting to many travel planners. Yet, it is one of the most effective ways to market a travel practice. By virtue of being in front of an audience, you are deemed an expert and therefore a valuable “go-to” resource. Speaking in front of groups is one of the most important ways travel professionals can raise the profile of their travel practice in a community and gain new clients.
Learning the art of public speaking is not as difficult as many think. A few tips will have you on your feet in front of a group in no time. The secret to being comfortable speaking in public is to know your subject matter well. Stick with topics you know, to which you can speak extemporaneously. There is no substitute for practice.
No matter how well you know your topic, rehearse your presentation several times, speaking aloud. The more practice, the better.
Start with groups with which you are very familiar such as your Sunday School class, social club or other organization to which you belong. As you become more comfortable, branch out.When delivering your talk to the audience, stay on topic. Don’t be overtly promotional: your very presence as a speaker will establish you as an expert in the eyes of those listening. Make sure to take along some of your own marketing materials and business cards to hand out after your talk.
If you have the opportunity, work off any nervous energy by engaging in small talk with the group prior to your presentation. Look at the audience and scan the faces of your listeners. Treat the audience as friends and know that they have a real interest in your topic and are looking to you as an expert. Resist the temptation to explain your nervousness or to apologize. Speak naturally, as though you would to a group of acquaintances.
A little nervousness prior to giving a speech is normal. Use it to your advantage by allowing it to energize you. I use the time just before a presentation begins to say a few preliminary “off the mike” things to audience members to use up some of the excess energy and to test my voice and projection. Most speakers will quickly learn a few of their own tricks to assist in hitting their own comfort zone.
Take a deep breath, know your material well, and with a bit of practice you will be in full command of your butterflies