A Small Business CEO’s Take on B2B Public Speaking

Brenda StierMarketing Works founder and CEO, Brenda Stier-Anstine, is respected for her natural ability to connect, influence and lead. A frequent guest presenter and spokesperson, she’s at ease on and off the stage.  I sat down to chat with her about public speaking in the B2B sphere.

What should B2B companies know about public speaking?

It’s an opportunity to connect with people when you might not have that opportunity otherwise. It’s also an opportunity to knowledge share. It’s a very genuine way to say, ‘Is this something you’d like to learn more about?’ or ‘Do you think this would help you in your business?’ When you can speak in a platform that gives you that opportunity, I encourage people to jump on that.

What words of encouragement do you have for people who are afraid of public speaking?

The only way I know to become more comfortable with it, is to do it over and over again. There are organizations like Toastmasters that exist specifically to help people gain more experience in speaking. Try small groups or presentations first. And speak about topics you are comfortable with. Once you realize that you’re really just sharing information, it becomes far less intimidating.  As you move into larger groups or more advanced presentations, tape yourself. You’ll quickly identify words, phrases or mannerisms that you think do or don’t translate well.  While it may be hard critiquing yourself, it’s an excellent way to hone your craft.

What is one of you’re more memorable speeches and why?

I was a presenter at one of Columbus Business First’s ‘Women in Business’ forums. We were up on a stage in an auditorium and it was a full house.  I shared that I had missed so many opportunities in my life because I had vowed to never make the same mistakes again. When I finally realized that my fears were actually holding me back from some wonderful experiences, it opened a whole new world for me. I had so many people after I gave that presentation thank me for being real and for sharing. Several attendees even promised to try and ‘never say never’ again. Knowing I had reached people on a personal level was very rewarding.

How do you inspire people through public speaking?

First, you have to be real. You have to throw out there ‘this is where I screwed up’ or ‘this is how I suffered because of that decision.’ Because we all make them. I think you miss an opportunity to connect if you’re not. Secondly, try to think of the advice that you wished you had been given. Hindsight is 20/20. So ‘if I knew then what I know now, here’s what I would tell myself’ and that’s what I try to share with people. Also, always be encouraging. Paint the picture for what the opportunity is. Success usually happens on the journey…don’t get caught up with needing to cross the finish line.

What would you say to a B2B individual who doesn’t think their line of business is interesting enough for a public presentation?

I think any single topic can be fascinating if you’re passionate about it. If you can take that topic, apply it to your audience and show why you’re so passionate about it, then it can take on a life of its own! I had a client that manufactured humidity sensors. There is nothing sexy or exciting about manufacturing humidity sensors.  We had the opportunity to take a tour at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and saw first-hand how these same sensors were used in the operating rooms. It created a safer and more efficient environment for both the patient and the clinicians. Using that example helped me connect what my client did in a very personal and passionate way. Suddenly, humidity sensors became the most exciting and fascinating topic on the planet! And finally, know that you are an expert on many topics. Don’t be surprised when people are anxious to hear and learn more.

To get more public speaking tips from Brenda, connect with her on LinkedIn.

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