How to Become a Confident Public Speaker

One of the most powerful PR tactics that an entrepreneur/business founder can use when undertaking a public relations campaign is public speaking.  Aside from boosting your personal brand visibility, by allowing you to share your expertise becoming a confident public speaker enables you to build your own influence and solidifies your relationship with an audience, who in turn can become “micro brand ambassadors” by sharing their experience after listening to your talk. The impact that regular public speaking has on strengthening credibility and enhancing public image is something that is all too often underestimated. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case; fear of public speaking, uncertainty in brand values, inexperience or lack of awareness of where to start. Fear is a serious progress blocker and it stops us from doing some of the very things that are best for us. It is natural to feel nervous about speaking in front of groups of people, large or small but we must not let those fears stop us from moving forward. As the saying goes “feel the fear and do it anyway” – use the energy of fear to push you towards your goals.

How To Become a confident public speaker

Here are some tips on how you can become a confident public speaker and start using your voice to make an impact:

Practice!

Start from wherever you are – either at team meetings, during board meetings or even at home. Challenge yourself to speak up in spaces in which you would normally not feel comfortable doing so. That is not to say that you should just speak for the sake of it, anything you say should add value to the conversation/meeting but through developing a habit of speaking in front of people, even small groups your confidence will grow.

Work on your story

Before you can step onto any stage you need to know your story, not just your own personal story (of which you should have already created a bio for) but your business story. Know the “why?”, “how?”, “where?”, “who?” behind your business. Create a compelling narrative that highlights your expertise but also enamors the audience. This is not about being fake or copying anyone else’s style, this is about being bold in the way you speak about your brand story. Try to be original too – when you tell your story, give your speech or presentation try to make it memorable – that could mean sharing an anecdote, using humour (tactfully) or encouraging audience participation. Learn the art of being yourself and you will become a truly confident public speaker.

Know your subject matter

If you will be speaking on industry themes, make sure that you research and stay on track of what is happening in your sector. So if you’re a food entrepreneur make sure you know about what is hot in the food sector, if you’re in fashion understand market trends, if you’re in tech keep up to date with the drivers in tech and so on. Don’t stop learning, the more you read fact based resources the more confident you will be as a public speaker and subject matter expert. Remember that this does not mean that you have to be perfect, just know your stuff!

Be authentic

The worse thing you can do is get on stage and try to copy anyone else’s style. You can watch other people’s speeches for inspiration and to learn the art of stage presence, timing and body language but when it comes to delivery you have to be yourself. Being authentic means that you will relax and give off the best energy on stage. Be yourself, that is the best way to build your confidence as a public speaker.

Look for opportunities to speak

Sometimes the very thing you are waiting for is actually waiting for you. A good example of this of this is the Tedx initiative, local TedTalks that you can apply to take part in. You don’t have to wait for TedTalks to come to you! If that stage is too big for you or you don’t feel ready then consider approaching other events, introduce yourself to event facilitators in your industry. There are so many to choose from and there is absolutely nothing wrong with sending an introductory note letting an event co-ordinator know that you would be willing to speak for them. If all else fails why not consider hosting your own event? It might take more planning and time but it’s worth it!

Don’t allow the fear to stop you.

It is inevitable that you will be nervous, especially if you’re new to public speaking but you are worthy and capable of speaking publicly. Don’t let the fear that you feel deny you of your right to shine brightly! Watch this video to help you get over the fear of public speaking:

Once you can conquer the fear you will find that you start to enjoy the opportunities that are offered to you and you are more likely to say yes when invited to speak. If you want to work on those nerves undertake some confidence boosting activities which can include giving a speech as a social gathering like a party or wedding. Be daring and ask for feedback from colleagues and friends, positive reinforcement is a real confidence booster (but don’t become too reliant on this otherwise you may miss opportunities to learn and grow).

Be of value

One of the most powerful things that you can do as a public speaker is to be of value to the audience. This means leaving them with something that they did not have before hearing you speak, teaching them something and leaving them with a message that lingers. Do not simply regurgitate your life story without turning it into a life lesson. As a public speaker you can add value to the lives of the audience. This also works even if you are chairing a panel for example, you can direct questions that brings the best out of panelists. So remember to always think about the value you will be adding to the audience through your speech or presentation.

Hopefully this piece has helped you, when you start undertaking speaking engagements make sure you promote the events at which you will speak, share images and testimonials from any events that you speak at and keep momentum going by seeking new opportunities or maintaining your visibility enough to attract them. If you require public speaking training feel free to get in touch to book a public speaking coaching session.

How To Work With Influencers

In this video I discuss how businesses and brands can build effective relationships with influencers.  Influencer marketing is a form of marketing which focuses on working influential people with strong digital footprints to reach a target audience. Influencers have a dedicated and loyal digital tribe which can give brands the opportunity to have impact on captive audiences. Whilst working with influencers is a powerful PR and marketing tool it has to be undertaken with a strategic perspective.

There has been a lot of speculation recently about the value that influencers bring to brands’ PR and marketing campaigns. I still believe that the relationship brands (specifically small ones) and influencers have, can be a powerful one and they can really make an impact within a PR and marketing campaign. However a lack of communication, misunderstanding and lack of education is having a negative impact on the relationship dynamics between the two parties. Influencers who are working on building their own personal brand in the digital space are seeing large brands working with their colleagues and counterparts within the industry and sometimes they’re not able to understand that not all brands have the same level of budget. On the flipside brands and businesses aren’t always clear about what it is they are looking for, what the intention of an influencer campaign is and what their expectations are.

The following story is a great example of how a brand and influencer potential relationship can fall apart:

In this video I aim to help small businesses understand how to work with influencers, engage with influencer and help them understand how to communicate effectively so room for a fruitful relationship built upon on a long-term basis.

Can Black Media Outlets Survive in The UK?

As a Black PR professional in the UK I have always been fascinated and usually disheartened by the lack of diversity in the PR sector.  A lack of ethnic diversity in PR agencies and in house PR departments is an issue that can no longer be ignored:


But whilst diversity in PR is a serious issue, diversity in the media is an even more urgent one. Much of my time is dedicated to interacting with media outlets of various sizes and pitching to press as part of media relations campaigns takes a lot of dedication (and a thick skin). Most clients are more interested in mainstream media coverage than niche coverage despite me trying to give the case for ensuring a balance across all platforms. One particular group of media is often overlooked/under appreciated, even from some clients who would make the perfect fit for those outlets and those are Black media outlets.  That is not to say that pitching to Black media outlets is easier than pitching to mainstream media, in fact I have found that it is equally as challenging as they all have the final say over their content and the stories that they place value on. But I still recognise and appreciate the value of having Black press in the UK.

It’s 2017 and I am certain there will still be many who will ask “Why does there need to be a Black newspaper or magazine?”. Black media outlets serve as an opportunity for members of the African and Caribbean diaspora to be given a voice in spaces in which they are often silenced. When there are so few black journalists in mainstream media the stories that are told about the Black population do not always have the best intentions, they do not always represent the Black population fairly and quite often highlight stereotypes.

Watch: Can ethnic minorities trust the British press? https://t.co/v1UJS0WXD8


Only 0.2% of all journalists in England are black and 0.4% Muslim when the UK BAME population is around 13%. How can the media accurately represent a population that it doesn’t reflect? In this case publications that speak for and to these under represented groups is essential. That is why Black media outlets exist and yet they are struggling to survive. I did a quick Google search of “Asian newspapers UK” and came up with at least 7, the same things happen when you type “Asian magazines UK”, there’s some duplication but one can see that it would appear to be a thriving sector, I know that appearances may be deceptive but at least there is scope. However when I Googled “Black newspapers UK” in the same search engine I found far less, the 2 most notable being The Voice and The African Voice. They have both been supportive of my clients but still do not harness as much enthusiasm as mainstream outlets when it comes to audience response. They at least have survived the test of time, New Nation was a weekly newspaper for the Black British population which closed down in 2016 – it could not survive online even after it stopped the print publication. In fact one could say that US based black media outlets get far more traction with UK audiences than our very own Black British media outlets. When we look at magazines here there is only a small number of magazines for Black women (none for Black men) including Pride, Black Hair, Black Beauty and Hair and Glam Africa (which is global but has a strong presence in the UK). Black Hair recently announced that it would stop its print publication and be made available online, surprisingly I didn’t see as much noise online as I saw when Glamour announced that it would be reducing it’s print cycle or when Teen Vogue announced that it would be going exclusively online:

This is not necessarily because Black women do not want to support such publications but in my own circle the feedback I receive from women is that these publications are becoming out of touch and are not relevant. When I posted an image of Pride magazine alongside the highly anticipated Vogue magazine some people were surprised that Pride still existed! How sad is that?

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I don’t blame Black British women for moving away from Black British media outlets, if the magazines are not marketing themselves effectively then it is going to be difficult to maintain awareness and if content is not relevant then it is not surprising that readers move away. Black owned TV (Vox Africa, BEN TV etc) and radio (The Beat, ABN radio etc) does have some impact but is not often discussed as much as say their US counterparts. They have the same challenges as print media in terms of content and financial investment.

All is not lost, there are Black media outlets that are bucking the trend taking ownership of the narrative, telling stories that need to be heard and giving a voice to the voiceless. Black Ballad is the perfect example of an online publication that resonates with Black British women, particularly millennials, its readers are members who pay to read the content. They also host ticketed events which are usually sell out events! Not only does this prove that there is a market for Black press but that individuals are willing to pay.  Without their paywall membership model and teh investment that it receives Black Ballad would probably not survive and grow at the rate it is growing.

Other good examples include Distinguished Diva for millennial women of colour,  Brown Beauty Talk which is an online beauty magazine for women of colour in the UK, Melan Magazine for women of colour and The British Blacklist which provides a platform for Black Creatives in the UK. Black British bloggers are also reclaiming their narrative online with many of them showcasing their influence online and through social media, one great example is the Mad News Blog. Not to mention the countless Black British influencers using Podcasts, YouTube and various other social media channels to get their messages across and build a strong collective voice online. There is still some way to go before Black press in the UK is given as much kudos as Black press in the USA or even nearly as much kudos as British mainstream media as a whole. Whilst we’re a smaller country than the USA and we have a smaller Black population (with our own unique history) we still exist and we still deserve platforms that represent us as Black people in the UK. The only way we can ensure the survival of Black press in the UK is if they get the financial backing that they need and we support them and the only way that Black press can ensure their survival is if they remain relevant to their target market, financially savvy dynamic and push editorial boundaries.