“I don’t want to be on TV!”
“I hate speaking in public.”
“I find it so hard to think of something intelligent to say.”
These are a few statements I’ve heard (and said) over my career and in my business. As a business owner one of the key things we learn is that we have to speak to people, all kinds of people, if we want to sell. It does not seem like we need it when we first start. We’ll just talk to our clients, they’ll get us. After all they want what we have. We already have a common language and something to talk about. The challenge is that to get to our clients we have to be seen. Even if it is just our product that has to be ‘in the public eye’, like on TV, we still have to be seen by all those along the path that get us there.
When I was younger I was so self-conscious about being in front of people that I didn’t even want to invite family to my wedding. The thought of standing in front of all of them, the people that love me, was terrifying. I went from that to a TV show host and it took some time. Like anything in life, we are not born experts. Even child prodigies have to practice to be great. I had to learn how to say things that were intelligent and how not to be too hung-up on my imperfections. I had to learn how to be and act in front of people so my message could be heard and stop saying no because I felt I wasn’t ready. I chose to step up and do things that were extremely uncomfortable to take my next steps in learning and be better at everything I did. It stopped me from feeling deflated when I failed.
Being ‘Camera Ready’ is a term from film and TV that implies that the actors and stars are prepared to do their job. Well your job requires you to be in front of people so you should be camera ready too. Here are three tips I’ve learned along the way that you can practice.
Wear Your ‘People Pants’
There is a joke in our house that goes like this” I’m almost ready to go, I just have to put on my people pants.” If you’re like us, we like to get comfy when we are at home: lounge wear, gardening jeans, shorts, and pajamas. But before we go out, before we are going to be in the presence of other people, people that don’t yet know us and have a first impression to make, we put on our ‘people pants’. This also means you need to put on make-up, brush your hair, add jewelry, etc. to create a look you want to be seen in. I guarantee the day you go out in track pants, with stains or holes, is the day you see that person, you know the one, the person you have been trying to reach. And now you either hide or you give them an impression you are going to have to work hard to overcome. One day I left the house to walk my daughter to school and a news journalist was getting opinions from pedestrians along the sidewalk. I live in a quiet neighbourhood; nowhere near where you would expect to see a TV camera crew. I was grateful for ‘people pants’ that day.
Practice Your Spiel
If you want to sound intelligent you have to know what to say and that requires practice. Just because you made the product does not mean you will have something of value to say about how it relates to the trends of the day or a well-known competitors alternative. You may understand it but saying something that sounds intelligent is different than saying something rehearsed or rambling on-and-on until you get your entire knowledge base discoursed. Intelligent thoughts have an easily understood composition of ideas. People will be able to understand you and they will want to listen, not run away. If you want to have something to say that people will want to hear you need to practice.
When I had left my last employed position to stay at home with a sick kid, I decided to sell Pampered Chef products. I had never done sales before and believe me, this was a trial by fire type way of learning. My up-line director was Canada’s #3 sales person making sales in the high 6-figures and she had something to teach me, which was to practice. I wrote out what she said. I wrote out what I wanted to say. I read about the product. I learned about my clients. I practiced my language at home on my family. I practiced in my car alone. I practiced at meetings. I was still shy and self-conscious, and I knew I needed to learn this, so I did. When I started my company I created the brand and the language to go with it and then I practiced. Every time I introduced myself I tried on different ways of describing what I did and for whom. I kept what got results and changed up the rest. I became competent at talking about my expertise and the business around it.
Practice what you want to become powerful. Don’t just script it and save it, make it a part of your language so it will be easily understood and delightful to hear.
Stop Saying No
This is funny because I am often telling people that they need to say ‘no’ more often, but when it comes to our fears eventually it is time to say ‘yes’. It is now your time to start saying ‘yes’ to the invites on a the radio show, to speak at a luncheon meeting, to be a guest on a TV show, to do a video testimonial, etc. The video testimonial is where I started to really break out of my ‘self-conscious’ shell. At the end of a great event the leader would ask people to give a testimonial about their experience and in return they would link the video to their business website. For years I would walk right past. One time, weeks after an event I got an email with a link to a testimonial a friend had given. She was smartly dressed and came across as competent and likable, just what I wanted my clients to see in me. I realized I was passing up opportunities for people at the events and others outside the event to see my expertise. The next event I was at I stepped up and gave a testimonial. It was so much harder than I expected. I looked great but I didn’t know what to say that did not sound like a plea for clients. I watched, made notes, and practiced over the next few events, including giving testimonials myself.
Eventually one day I heard someone else say about me, “she’s good at that, so calm and natural. I could never do that.” Wow, I was there. My image, my language, and my presence had finally caught up to my ambition. I haven’t stopped since; learning, practicing, and doing. I find I usually say ‘yes’ first to my fears and then evaluate the relevance to my business afterwards. If it fits my marketing goals I do it, even if I’m scared, because I know I have the three things that will make it easier – my presence, my language, and my confidence – and you can too.
In support of The CEO Elite Advisory Boards for small business.