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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 10, 2011 • Issue 11:10:01


Claim the podium

A primary feature of tradeshows is the opportunity they provide to see payments industry leaders share expertise on topics of vital interest to ISOs and merchant level salespeople. Offerings include keynote speeches, educational presentations, panels and breakout sessions. They cover regulatory and economic issues, technological developments, data security, new areas of opportunity, and a host of other issues affecting the payments sphere.

These often motivational offerings also present significant opportunities to those who share their knowledge and expertise. Individuals who step on stage and take the mic become far more than just a name and title on a roster. They become known to all attendees as subject-matter experts; their distinct voices, mannerisms, stories and jokes become uniquely memorable; they are also seen as confident individuals who likely have potential as business partners.

A common fear

Yet few payment professionals who could participate at this level ever do.

Rationalizations abound: some say they're too busy; others say they don't want to reveal their hard-won secrets; others fear they're not knowledgeable enough to provide others with worthwhile advice. However, many others don't take the stage merely because they are not comfortable speaking in front of groups. In fact, some people who shine when it comes to one-on-one sales or small-group presentations, are absolutely terrified when it comes to speaking to a packed meeting hall.

If you're in the latter group, you're not alone. Paul L. Witt, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Texas Christian University, told WebMD that for many folks, public speaking is "even scarier than rattlesnakes" and that it's the "No. 1 fear reported by people in the United States."

Helpful hints

This doesn't mean you have to settle for a permanent seat in the audience if you haven't yet addressed the tradeshow crowd. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the limelight:

  • Audiences overwhelmingly want speakers to succeed. They did not come to grade your performance. So remember that your audience wants the best for you when you stand at the podium; some of your tension will be relieved on the spot.

  • You don't have to be brilliant or comprehensive. You don't have to be Einstein or Steve Jobs. You just need to provide useful information to your audience. If you keep it simple and aim to get across even just two key points, you'll make your job easier.

  • You don't have to be perfect. Not even the best public speakers are flawless. The secret is to take your mistakes in stride and keep going.

  • You can start small. Typically, people don't begin public speaking at the keynote level. Your first steps could be to introduce a speaker, make announcements at the beginning of a meeting or run a raffle.

  • Practice helps. The more you speak in public, the better you'll get at it. Seek speaking opportunities wherever you can - at work, community events and club meetings and through such groups as Toastmasters, which is dedicated to helping people develop public speaking and leadership skills.

Now is the time to prepare for the 2012 tradeshow season. Why not set a goal of speaking in some capacity at a regional acquirers show next year? It will be good for you, good for your business and good for those who will learn from what you have to say. end of article

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