Did you know anyone can learn how to present with confidence and in just 3 simple steps!
Why? because confidence and specifically the ability to present with confidence is not a superpower or an innate ability but a combination of skills, mindset, and habits that you can cultivate.
Building speaking confidence is centered on recognising that fear doesn’t mean danger. On a primal level, if you’re confronted with a threat, our bodies naturally prepare for battle. Stress hormones are released and for a fight or flight situation. You feel the hair on the back of your neck or arms rising, a cold sweat breaks out and your legs begin to shake. Familiar? The good news is that the above is a natural reaction to perceived danger. It’s our bodies telling us to run! Therefore part of the solution is to build confidence in the way you react to fear stimuli and can ultimately start to see it as an opportunity to build confidence.
Here are 3 Simple Steps to take the fear out of the equation, and focus on the skill of speaking with confidence.
Step 1 – Passion – A key element to overcoming your fear of public speaking is being passionate about your subject matter.
Take time to research your topic inside-out, identifying what makes it interesting to you in particular. Find an aspect that speaks to you personally and focus on that. It makes it easy for your audience to stay focused and listening when the speaker is interested in what they’re presenting. Stay connected to your topic. It helps keep you focussed even when distracting things are happening around you.
If you are convinced by the power or importance of what you’re saying, then this passion will come through in your body language and your delivery. When you feel more connected to your subject matter, it can show through excited hand gestures, more animated speech. This passion is infectious and will encourage your audience to develop interest in the topic being discussed. This, in turn, leads to greater connection and indirectly boosts the speakers’ communication confidence ultimately helping you overcome your fear of public speaking.
A big part of being a confident speaker is finding your own voice. There’s no point trying to sound like another speaker you’ve heard, no matter how much you admire them. Your audience will almost certainly be able to tell when you’re mimicking someone else. It can make you come across as unconfident because you’re afraid to use your own speaking style. It feels unnatural and is quickly noticed by everyone.
Maybe your style is more light-hearted, you might use humour to highlight your talk. Or maybe you have a more serious and emphatic style. Maybe you use slang and local references, or maybe you have a more academic and clinical approach. Neither way is more or less effective than the other. As long as you identify what works for you and feels authentic, then you’ll come across better to your audience. You’re far more likely to appeal to your audience by being yourself, which will lead to more opportunities to speak in public. Gaining experience is the best way to find your voice and become more confident.
Step 2 -Preparation – Preparation is key: you wouldn’t walk into an exam without having revised!
Take your time to explore your subject-matter, revise and rehearse. Practice your speech in front of friends, or just a mirror! It’s advisable not to write down the entire speech to read off word-for-word. Your audience will struggle to stay focused, as we’re naturally averse to scripted speeches that sound too robotic or monotone. People usually prefer to be talked to in a more natural, even conversational style. You’ll come across as confident if you’re able to speak without relying too heavily on a script. We suggest that you use some cards with a few bullet-points and prompts. Don’t be afraid to use quotes, as it comes across well if you can back up your points with relevant famous opinions.
There are many ways of preparing yourself before giving a talk. Some people listen to carefully chosen calming music or a mindfulness track; meditation or even exercise. Avoid too much caffeine or similar stimulants before public speaking. They can make you agitated and actually increase your nerves. In general, it’s best not to do anything too different from your usual routine. Keep those stress levels down by going through your personal rituals whatever they might be.
Step 3 Practice – Practice and experience is the best way to maximize your skills.
Being a confident speaker gets easier each time you speak in front of an audience. In addition to this, you can get advice and mentoring; sign up for a credible programme with a high impact coach. The more talks you do, the more feedback you’ll get, building upon your knowledge and experience. Invite your audience to leave feedback, it’s an effective way of seeing yourself and your talk through their eyes and working on your public speaking style for the future. Open doors and grow your reputation by eliminating the fear out of public speaking and focussing on your ability to present confidently in your own unique voice.
Go out and take action, seek out opportunities to overcome your fear of public speaking and build your confidence.