We aren’t all comfortable talking to a roomful of people. Standing up in front of a microphone is not everybody’s idea of fun. Having to sit at a table talking to clients and investors is enough to make many of us feel sick to the stomach. And yet, as a business leader, you may feel forced to do one or all of these things. If you’re more akin to a wallflower, nervous about public interaction (though that isn’t true of all introverts), you are going to struggle. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people in business are nervous about public interaction, so while you think of them as social butterflies, they are often faking it like they mean it.
So, our first tip is to learn how to appear confident, and you can do this by picking up some public speaking skills. The short course promoted within the link may well give you the confidence you need. You may still be nervous on the inside, but other people don’t need to know this. And while you may feel as if you are faking it like you mean it, know that you may actually become more comfortable with public speaking the more you practice. Heck, you might even enjoy it, even if you do need to spend an entire weekend recharging your inner batteries afterwards.
Our second tip is to push yourself, even though it’s painful. Rather than fleeing from situations where you need to network with others, actively put yourself in a situation where you are forced to. Terrifying? Maybe, but the more time you spend hiding away, the less time you will have to develop your skills. And, of course, you will have less time to promote your business to the very people who could help you. So, while we wouldn’t advocate standing up in a room full of your peers unless you were really brave, you might still take baby steps, attending a small business gathering one day, and then taking out a 10×10 booth at a trade event the next. It’s about overcoming your fear, and while you may need to layer yourself in deodorant to stop yourself drowning in perspiration, you will hopefully feel better about yourself when you have taken the stance of fight rather than flight.
Finally, remember you don’t need to be somebody you’re not. Yes, wearing a suit may help you feel more confident, and yes, some skills training will help you to talk in public, but you don’t need to give your personality a makeover. Even when faking confidence, you don’t need to be a fake person. You don’t need to be the life and soul of the party. You don’t need to be the Hulk emerging from Bruce Banner’s quieter shell. Be too fake and people will see right through you. Provided you do actually raise your voice from a quiet whisper, those you network with will respect your integrity. So, know how valuable you are, understand that you have skills and experiences that give you authority, and come to the awareness that no one person is better than you, even if they do talk several decibels higher, or flatter themselves too highly.
In business, you can’t be a wallflower. It just doesn’t work. And you may never really become a social butterfly. But there is a comfortable in-between. Push yourself a little, take confidence lessons, practice talking in front of a mirror, read self-help books, take refuge in small group meetings before the bigger events… do anything that will help you improve your networking skills. You will gain in confidence, and your business will grow because of it. We promise.