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Public speaking is an essential skill in real estate. Still, it’s also a skill most agents avoid building because they’re terrified of actually getting up to give a presentation. This is a skill you must learn to land a listing, close a deal and present yourself as an authority.
Why develop your public speaking skills?
When I first started out, I was a terrible public speaker. I knew that I had to improve because every single real estate deal I do requires me to be an effective public speaker. I have to find viable properties that fit my buying criteria and pitch the current broker on selling the property to me on terms that make the deal viable for me and my investors.
Then I have to pitch to investors why the deal makes sense for them to invest in as I build the syndication around that deal. Then, I have to present to the lender to get a loan. Much later down the road, I sometimes have to present the property to other potential buyers.
All of these require me to be an effective public speaker because I have to convey certain information in a way that’s compelling to my audience, positions me as an authority and inspires trust.
It’s the same for you. In order to land a listing, you have to effectively present to a homeowner why you’re the best listing agent for their property. You have to then clearly articulate the value of that property to potential homebuyers to maximize its sale price. This requires effective public speaking.
I took public speaking courses and looked for every opportunity to speak at the organizations and events I was involved in and conferences I attended. These opportunities are all around if you’re looking for them. You’ll find them at your local Rotary Club, real estate organizations and networking groups. Since many people are hesitant to stand up and speak, often all you have to do is ask for an opportunity.
I’ve found that being prepared is the best way to reduce your fear of public speaking. Here are the key steps to becoming a better public speaker — if you consistently follow them, it will help you to get over your public speaking fears, allow you to give more engaging and trustworthy presentations, and ultimately help you to become an even more effective Realtor.
Butterflies are your friend
If you feel some nervousness or stress leading up to getting on stage, that is a great sign. That heightened sense of being with an edge of adrenaline is what has allowed Olympians and warriors to perform at their very best when it matters most. Harness that instinct, smile at those butterflies in your stomach, and know they are there to help you give the presentation of your lifetime.
Nearly all of us overthink when it comes to public speaking. That’s why public speaking is the greatest fear for most people and the reason so many people are so scared of this important activity.
People believe that others will judge them if they misspeak, make a weird expression or fumble in some way. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first — a very small percentage of people absolutely will do that. But the good news is that the vast majority will not. People are busy and typically pretty self-absorbed, so they don’t have the time or energy to sit there judging you.
When presenting, if you’re sharing valuable information that your audience needs and doesn’t currently have, they will be focused on absorbing and understanding what you say. They’ll never notice and won’t really care about the little mistakes you’re obsessing over.
Follow a process
Considering my engineering background, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that I believe strongly in following a proven and documented process because it creates consistent and improvable results. That especially applies to public speaking. Here’s the process I follow:
Plan your presentation
- What message or information do you need to convey?
- How much time do you have?
- Who is your audience?
Create your materials
- Slide deck
- Any other visual aids
Practice (and then practice some more)
- Find a similar venue such as an office, large room or hall
- Speak while moving your eyes from seat to seat or point to point imagining that you are looking into the eyes of each attendee
- Use authentic hand gestures, tonality and movement
- Make sure to record and watch yourself
- Fine-tune your deck
- Check out the room/stage
- If the presentation is virtual, make sure all tech works
- Review your presentation
- Get your mindset right
- Use the restroom
- Drink a little water and have more handy in case you get a dry throat from speaking
Give your presentation
Evaluate video of the presentation afterward
- What did you do well?
- What could you improve on next time?
This process helps ensure that you give the best presentation possible, and more importantly, it helps you to objectively improve your presentation each time you speak.
Practice public speaking
You see, simply going through the motions isn’t enough. In order for practice to be effective, it has to be performed properly and repetitively. This means slowing down to ensure you do everything right. It’s important to point out that if you’re not a public speaking pro, your practice won’t be perfect. The key is to keep practicing until it is.
That doesn’t mean mumbling the words quietly to yourself as you quickly scroll through your slide deck. It means giving your presentation just as you would standing on stage or in front of a prospect, at full volume and with all the pauses, gestures and facial expressions you will use in your actual presentation.
This is important because when most people give a presentation, they start speaking significantly faster than usual. If you don’t practice, you may find yourself completing a twenty-minute presentation in ten minutes, making you appear nervous and creating an awkward ten-minute gap.
Practice also extends to regular public speaking. Just giving an occasional presentation and practicing beforehand isn’t enough. If you truly want to master the art of public speaking, you also need to regularly give presentations.
In preparation for a particular presentation and infrequent public speaking opportunities, practice will help make you more comfortable and confident, so your public speaking skills will improve dramatically. Because you’re better at it, you’ll enjoy it more, which in turn, will make you even better. It’s a powerful compounding effect.
Be your authentic self
A common mistake people make because they aren’t comfortable with public speaking is to emulate the style of a speaker they admire. This is a common tactic called modeling, and it’s great for a lot of other things, but it’s terrible for public speaking because you’re basically trying to borrow someone else’s personality. When you do that, you’ll come off as inauthentic because you’re trying to be someone else, and as a result, your message won’t resonate with your audience.
You don’t have to be this over-the-top, loud and outgoing personality if that’s not who you are. Instead, just be yourself.
When your presentation style is congruent with your personality, everything will flow more smoothly and you’ll be calmer and more confident. Your audience can sense that, so the information you present will be more engaging and perceived as more trustworthy.
Consistently following this process will lead to consistently better results
Because I consistently follow this process for my own public speaking, I get a little bit better each time I present. I also get a little bit better at every part of my business that involves communicating with people.
Public speaking is like riding a bike. It is painful the first few times, but each time you hop on, it gets easier and a lot more fun. If you follow this process, the same will happen for you.
Patrick Grimes is the Founding CEO of InvestOnMainStreet.com, a private equity firm with a mission to enhance busy professionals’ quality of life by providing tax shielded and inflation hedge passive investments. Follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn.