FRTM - WSJ Article About Public Speaking and the Benefits

  • From: Danielle Edmonds <danielle.edmonds@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Front Range Toastmasters <frtm@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2010 12:43:39 -0500

Fellow Toastmasters,

Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal about the benefits of
mastering public speaking.  I thought you all might enjoy this.


   - AUGUST 16, 2010

RUNNING THE SHOWThe Gift of GabSpeaking can be a lucrative path to more
business. If you can stand it.


Give a speech. Win a client.

As simple—or even scary—as that formula sounds, a host of entrepreneurs have
found that conquering public speaking can be the route to more contacts and
customers. Impressing people with your expertise at a conference, in a
classroom or over the radio can sometimes win more business than making
sales calls or manning a booth at a trade show. Not to mention that the most
successful speakers can take home thousands of dollars in fees for an

Of course, it's not always easy to get started. Many entrepreneurs—like many
people in general—suffer from stage fright, or simply don't think they have
anything to say to an audience. In many cases, they have to get up to speed
with the help of speakers' groups such as Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc. or
Toastmasters International, or even coaches and therapists. But those who
have done it often say it's worth the effort, for both their business and
their self-esteem.

Here are some of the crucial lessons these entrepreneurs have learned about
finding their voice—and using it to land clients.
Get Out There.

For all the training they go through, entrepreneurs say it was vital to
practice delivering their message in public. "You don't get better by
reading and studying the craft," says Scott Miller of Cincinnati. "The only
way to improve is to put yourself out there."

Mr. Miller, founder of B2Bee LLC, a developer of invoicing and bookkeeping
software for very small businesses, says giving speeches didn't come easily.
"When I graduated from college, I was a terrible public speaker and deathly
afraid of the experience," he says.

He started off his speaking career with a Dale Carnegie course on
professional selling, and then bolstered his training with lots of practice
before technology groups. He also taught college classes, which kept him
nimble by forcing him to answer tough questions on the fly.

"College students force you to be prepared and bring your A game," he says.

That practice didn't just help his speaking, he says. "Being prepared for a
45-minute talk followed by 30 minutes of Q&A helps develop the skills of
preparedness and organization that all entrepreneurs need to succeed," says
Mr. Miller.

Now he often speaks before technology-industry groups and teaches a class in
entrepreneurship at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He also makes
presentations to raise capital for his business from angel investors and to
obtain state grant money. His efforts have landed him plenty of business.
After a speaking engagement last November, for instance, Mr. Miller picked
up a handful of beta testers, who agreed to run their business on his new
invoicing software. They are now customers.

Tony Coretto also benefited from lots of practice. Mr. Coretto, co-founder
and co-chief executive of PNT Marketing Services Inc., a Long Island City,
N.Y., database-marketing company, trained in speaking and negotiating a
couple of years ago through a Harvard Law School program, then "followed
that up with a few quick sessions with a behavioral therapist, to attack the
problem of stage fright and fear of public speaking."

After that, he began seeking out opportunities to speak: day-chairing an
event, doing a radio interview and being a panelist at a conference. He even
had some videos of himself professionally recorded and posted them on his
website and on YouTube. "More people are calling, referencing an event at
which they saw me, or one of my videos, and we're definitely building more
of a buzz around our company," Mr. Coretto says. "We can't yet quantify the
effect in terms of sales, but it's early days and we're confident it will
eventually pay off."
You're the Expert.

Lots of people are intimidated by the prospect of speaking in front of a
huge crowd at a conference or similar event. They're more comfortable with
the intimacy of a sales call or a convention booth. But remember that when
you get onstage you have one simple, but huge, advantage: People *want* to
listen to you.

"Often with a cold sales call you can play telephone tag and talk to seven
different people until you reach the individual in the right department—who
may or may not be interested in your service," says Marty Metro, a Los
Angeles entrepreneur. "Compare that to a captive audience at a conference in
which the people in the audience are interested enough in the topic to leave
the office, pay for the event and sit and listen to your message."

Mr. Metro, founder and CEO of, which promotes
conservation by buying and selling used boxes nationwide, says public
speaking is such a great source of clients that he doesn't make outside
sales calls anymore. He appears at about one event a month, talking about
how companies can go green. His recent engagements include keynote speaker
at the Mid-Atlantic B2B Green Forum in Baltimore in March and emcee for the
Good Housekeeping/Wal-Mart Green Expo Speaker Series in Bentonville, Ark.,
in April.

"I meet potential clients at almost every event…and I'm in the position of
thought leader and not salesperson, because I'm offering valuable
information and the audience appreciates that," Mr. Metro says.
Be Specific.

Many people aren't sure what to talk about on stage. One good rule: Stick to
real life. Effective speakers say they use actual examples whenever they
can, to liven up their talks and give the audience something to relate to.

In 1998, Maribeth Kuzmeski, president and founder of Red Zone Marketing, a
consulting firm in Libertyville, Ill., was asked to speak about a marketing
plan her firm set in place for a financial adviser. The venue: a national
sales conference, with 350 advisers in the audience. "I was so nervous I
thought I wouldn't make it," she says.

But after the talk, Ms. Kuzmeski had a line of advisers who wanted to work
with her firm. She took away an important lesson: Audiences respond strongly
to stories. "Today, I speak more than 80 times per year and speaking has
built my marketing consulting firm entirely," says Ms. Kuzmeski. "I have not
done any marketing besides my Web site and writing books and articles."

Whenever she gives a speech, she makes sure to use real-life examples. For
instance, she relates a story about a client who complained of poor results
after spending $100,000 a year on dinner seminars. He described the invitees
as "plate lickers" who didn't even listen to his pitch.

Ms. Kuzmeski suggested an event in which existing clients are invited to a
special event if they give a referral. The event—a dinner cruise on the
Detroit River—drew 40 client referrals. The strategy was so successful, and
so much less expensive than the seminars, the client does three of the
events a year, and no other marketing.

"Audiences don't want theory, they want to know how someone is actually
putting the theory to work," Ms. Kuzmeski says. "I use success stories from
our consulting clients, and I use only recent ones because what worked years
ago may not work today."

*Ms. Haislip is a writer in Chatham, N.J. She can be reached at

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