Five Ways to Vastly Improve Confidence Public Speaking
If you find the thought of public speaking makes you feel sick with anxiety then take some comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld notably joked that most people would rather be in the coffin at a funeral than at the front reading a eulogy. A strong statement but one that many of us could relate to!
As scary as public speaking can seem it’s important to take comfort from three things. Firstly the knowledge that what you are feeling is completely natural and the vast majority of people feel exactly the same as you do. Secondly as nervous or uncomfortable as you may feel on the inside when public speaking nobody else knows this. Thirdly this is an irrational fear, nobody is going to hurt you and you are not in danger when speaking.
You can also take comfort in the knowledge that there are lots of things you can do to become much more comfortable with public speaking. Below I have outlined five key rules which if implemented will make public speaking enjoyable for your audience and even you!
Know Your Material
Knowing the area you are speaking about in good detail will significantly reduce your nervousness and make public speaking feel much more comfortable. If you are going to be speaking publically about anything the best place to start is with the topic.
Understand what you are talking about and plan out what you want to say. Think about what are the important messages are you want to communicate, how do you want to communicate this, what are your calls to action? The clearer you are on your message the more confident you will feel speaking publically.
Practice, Practice, Practice
This follows on from the last point, once you know what you want to say it’s so important to practice and practice delivering your speech.
A technique that helps many people is recording themselves delivering the speech then listening or watching this back. If you do this you will be amazed at how much you will pick up. There will no doubt be things you’ll change on the back of this and equally things you will think are great.
Many people feel nervous or even silly practicing public speaking. I always say if you can’t deliver your speech on your own you’re not ready to deliver it publically. Believe me if you feel silly talking through it alone you won’t feel comfortable with an audience. When you are new to public speaking it is essential to practice as much as possible and finely tune your message.
Once you have done some practice on your own, practice delivering this in front of someone you trust such as your spouse or children and listen to their feedback. Again resist the feeling of “this feels silly”, if you’re not comfortable speaking to your wife or husband it will be even more uncomfortable with people you don’t trust to the same level.
Practice will help you build confidence and competence with public speaking. When you have practiced properly you will feel a hundred times more confident and you will be a hundred times more competent.
In Stephen Coveys classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people the first rule is to be proactive! Stephen argues that by adopting a proactive approach we can grow our circle of influence and thus have a much greater control of our lives and our success.
“I am not the product of my circumstances, I am the product of my decisions” – Stephen Covey
Be proactive and practice, practice, practice your public speaking. If you are interested in learning more about Stephen’s book you can view this on Amazon here.
Let Yourself Settle
In the minutes and moments before it’s your turn to speak, don’t panic if you feel very anxious or nervous, this is totally natural. When it’s time to speak take a deep breath and do your best. If you have practiced well this will pay huge dividends now.
It’s important to let yourself settle into your speaking. Although you may initially feel extreme nervousness I can guarantee this feeling with drain away as you speak, so cut yourself some slack and keep going no matter how you feel.
Many people who initially fear public speaking find it hugely enjoyable when they are in the flow, so smile keep your chin up and with every sentence you speak you will feel more relaxed and confident.
“What separates people is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life.” ― Jim Collins
In Jim Collins book Good to Great he talks about how our attitude in challenges largely colours our perception of events. By changing our mind-set our perception of the world changes as well. If you are interested in learning more about Jim’s book you can view this on Amazon here.
Tap Into Your Passion
“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” — Donald Trump
It helps hugely if you are passionate about the message you are communicating. I always remember a senior leader I worked with who would often cascade very challenging objectives. She would talk with such energy, excitement and passion that everyone instantly wanted to be involved.
If you are genuinely passionate and excited about something this in itself is incredibly powerful and will influence others. When you are passionate about something the other great thing that happens is the message becomes more important than you and you stop feelings so self-conscious.
When it comes to harnessing your passion to get the most out of yourself and others, I would highly recommend Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book has been hugely helpful to me not just in my career but in my life. In Dale’s classic book he talks about how our mind-set influences our body language and how this then affects how people perceive us.
Dale teaches that to change how others think about us we don’t need to focus on them, or even our body language. Dale teaches that to reach our potential we need to change our mind-set, the rest is consequential. You can view Dale Carnegie’s classic on Amazon here.
Control Your Breathing
It’s natural before you speak publically to become anxious. As you do your heart beats faster and faster and your body goes into fight or flight mode. You can take control of your body and mind by controlling your breathing.
A technique I have found hugely beneficial is taking a deep breath, holding it for the count of four then slowly exhaling. Concentrate on your breathing and you will be amazed how within just a few minutes you can feel so much more relaxed.
I hope you benefit from the information within this article! You might also be interested in – How to Achieve Anything where I provide my principles for achieving success in life whatever your goal may be!