It’s a common fear many of us share, that of public speaking. But in the case of a Latina entrepreneur, overcoming this obstacle is one of the most important things you will need to do to find success. As a startup advisor, I speak with a lot of founders and I frequently encourage each of them to find any and all opportunities to speak about their business and business goals in front of groups and at events.
Why is Public Speaking So Important?
Your story in your words
We all know stories resonate, they are what makes products compelling because they humanize the brand. Stories create empathy, if a customer understands your point of view or can relate in someway, that creates a deeper connection. As Simon Sinek so brilliantly puts it, we want to know the WHY. Especially in the early days, as a founder, you are the brand, so get comfortable speaking about your founding story. You have a unique view and perspective on the business… why it was formed, what problem it solves and the vision you have for your company. Getting out there and telling your story often will not only increase visibility, it will make you, your product, and your company more likable. And people want to buy things from people they like.
Hone your message
Practice makes perfect, but in the case of speaking and practicing your elevator pitch, it can really make all the difference. What are the points of friction in your story, what questions come up often, where are people getting confused? It’s only through public speaking, where you’ll be able to get that feedback and insight into what’s working and what’s not. This will help you craft the right message, refine your positioning and be able to share those refinements with your team. It’s important to know which messages resonate and with whom, this will impact every part of your marketing strategy from website messaging to customer acquisition strategies, the more aware you are of what messages are working, the stronger your marketing efforts will become.
Increase brand exposure
There are countless events, meet-up groups and venues where you can practice your pitch. You may want to start out in a safe environment with other people who are getting comfortable with public speaking such as Toastmasters or Magnetic Speaking. But once you’ve done this a few times, you should get out amongst your peers. Many events will attract press, investors or just otherwise connected people who may make valuable introductions for you. The point is, you are getting out there and spreading the word.
The Obstacle is the Way
Overcoming fears or getting through obstacles can often lead to great breakthroughs. It will make you realize you are stronger than you thought. Success is never a given, there are no guarantees in life. But there are things you control, overcoming your fear of speaking or imposter syndrome or what ever it may be that is holding you back is all about changing your perspective.
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you‘re right. ~Henry Ford
Taking action in a positive direction is the one things you control, so get out there and talk about what you are doing, only positive can come of it. Even if you fall flat on your face, you know you need more practice or you’ll be able to understand where you’re getting caught up in your own story. There is always a lesson and opportunity for growth.
Manufacture more Serendipity
Serendipity is that wonderful feeling of finding something valuable, when least you were looking. Manufactured serendipity is simply choosing more scenarios in which those positive occurrences can happen. In the case of a founder or entrepreneur, it’s about meeting people who can help your cause whether that’s investors, customers, influencers, press or any number of relationships that will help your company succeed. The more you put yourself out there to speak, the more people you will meet. It’s more effective than networking because you have an audience vs. speaking with just one or a handful of people at a time. You never know who may be listening in that audience, that you may or may not even meet at the time, but who will remember you and perhaps be someone that can help you at some point. The key is putting yourself out there and often to be in a place of finding the opportunities you need.
If you’re looking for a great place to hone your pitch, check out SF New Tech and it’s monthly startup demo showcase. Companies like Evernote, Waze, 23andMe, Flipboard, Twilio and more have all come through SF New Tech’s stage to give live demo’s and receive insightful audience Q&A. We’re always looking for more new technology to feature so if you’re a start-up founder and want to practice your pitch on an engaged and friendly audience, fill out our application to demo here.