Many marketing professionals spend a majority of their careers perfecting the art of communicating to stakeholders via written or visual media – using product collateral, e-campaigns, infographics, video and other deliverables. We tend to make it our role to enable others to be heard while ourselves standing in the shadows. But while bringing other people into the spotlight, there are still a number of reasons why marketers need to be as comfortable at the podium as well as behind the scenes.
1. Build “Brand Me”
We are all constantly reminded that the concept of career development is more than having a well-structured CV. We now need to consider things like our online social media profiles, our personal USPs, perfecting elevator pitches and building our personal brand. And if we want to convey the message that we are worth listening to, the best way is to show that others are listening to us. Having regular speaking engagements or video blogs to underpin that message is extremely useful to establish our relevance. As you rise through the ranks and gain more senior positions, there will be an increased requirement for you to be comfortable speaking to groups of people, so start getting that experience as early in your career as possible.
2. Be prepared for the unexpected
We’ve all been there. That event or meeting where you suddenly get put on the spot. Someone asks you a question which requires a response in front of the entire audience. Or you get tasked with introducing a speaker – perhaps unexpectedly, having to improvise. Or worse, you get thrown into the deep end and have to step in for a speaker who was unable to make it. These are all situations which can make us shiver in our boots and cause intense fear. However, if we make it our mission to practise public speaking, these situations will gradually become more bearable as our confidence grows.
3. Communicate consciously
Speaking in front of a physical gathering of people is an entirely different thing to sending them a newsletter or a barrage of tweets. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn how the audience responds to your message. You get to use yourself as a vehicle for sharing information with a very personal touch. Your voice, your body language, your eye contact – these are all unique things to you, which people will connect with. And by connecting with them, you will learn a great deal about them which you will be able to use when you craft your marketing content.
4. Be a business ambassador
Business is people. Your company consists of human beings who all relate to other human beings, establishing relationships, gathering information and facilitating transactions. We often talk about the importance of promoting real people in our marketing strategies in that we build personas, we promote thought leaders, we use pictures of real people on our websites and collateral. But don’t forget that you, as the marketer, are an important voice in building the business brand. See yourself as the shop window of your company wherever you go. You are a representative, an ambassadeur, a very powerful weapon in the company’s arsenal. This of course requires you to live and breathe the core values and mission of the business, but it also requires the courage – and the initiative – to speak up.
5. Establish your own knowledge
There is tremendous value in sharing information with other people. We all have knowledge and experience which the world wants to hear about and every time you share it, you become empowered in that knowledge. As you develop your speaking skills, it will gradually become easier to tap into that pool of insight whenever people come to you for guidance. This will also contribute to you becoming a role model for other people and perhaps inspire a new generation of marketers. Don’t shy away from teaching others because you’re not a “leader” or a “teacher type”. You may not see it yourself, but by wanting to share your knowledge you are already a leader and an influencer. Make the most of it!