4 Ways to Grow Your Confidence as a Public Speaker
Spiders? No problem. Heights? Don’t sweat it! Public Speaking? Panic. Just the thought of getting in front of a room full of people and having to speak is enough to make some of the most renowned businesspeople moist at the collar. Yet, public speaking remains one of the most sought-after business skills.
Speaking aloud clearly and comfortably to a crowd can help you present ideas to colleagues/clients, increase your confidence, help you make social connections, expand your professional network, and much more. Due to this, public speaking is an essential business skill, and luckily everyone can benefit from it by adopting a few confidence-boosting tips.
But how do you go about boosting your confidence? From recording your speeches and practising daily to making a lasting impression and opening with a story, there are many ways to grow your confidence as a public speaker (even if you have a deep-rooted fear of it!). We outline some of the best ways to do so in our article below.
1. Record Yourself
Although your first thought when trying to grow your confidence as a public speaker might be to approach family or friends for advice, one of the best ways to help yourself is by recording yourself whenever you give a presentation.
When you ask friends for feedback, they might withhold information for fear of hurting your feelings or not picking up on the little things you do when you are nervous – which is why sometimes you’re your best critic. Instead, set up your phone at the back of the room, ask a colleague/friend to hold it, or use video-recording platforms like Zoom, then convert the audio in privacy and make notes about how you could improve.
But if you’ve never converted audio to video before, you might encounter a few challenges, which is where step-by-step guides like the ones from Setapp come in. Using the software, you are granted access to tons of apps for Mac and iOS that aim to help you solve any problem you might be having.
3. Avoid Reading From a Script
When delivering a presentation, you want to exude as much confidence as possible (even if you’re shaking in your loafers!), and nothing screams nerves more than someone reading from a script and refusing to make eye contact with their audience.
To avoid looking like this in front of your colleagues/clients, it is essential that you rehearse your script multiple times before you are due to present it. Dedicate an hour or so of each day to memorising a paragraph, and recite it throughout the rest of the day to cement it in your mind. Doing so will ensure you’re comfortable with the material, so you won’t need to use your script for a prompt. However, if you’re naturally nervous, don’t rely solely on verbatim notes; instead, take study cards filled with one-word prompts so that you'll recover if you lose your train of thought.
Or, if you’re using PowerPoint, use each slide as a prompt instead. Once you’ve learnt the script in its entirety, you’ll find that you’ll be able to incorporate actions like hand gestures, and eye contact, which will make you feel and look more confident in the eyes of your audience.
3. Personalise Your Content
Some of the most popular public speakers are seen gracing the TED Talk stage, often characterised by humour, relatability, and personalisation. Typically, the speakers on the show connect with and engage their audience by telling a personal story at the start of their speech and inserting humour throughout the piece.
Take a leaf from their book and incorporate some of these elements into your presentation (if appropriate!) but ensure that it is relevant and that the story is easily graspable – if not, scrap it! You’ll find that personalising your content and adding humour where appropriate will make the environment much more comfortable. It can encourage both you and your audience to relax, which will do wonders for your confidence levels.
4. Use the Space Available to You to Your Advantage
Whether you’re speaking on a large stage or in a small meeting room at your company’s headquarters, it's essential that you understand you’re not just delivering a speech but putting on a performance that will encourage people to invest in your pitch or not.
Due to this, it is essential that you’re not only mindful of how you deliver your pitch vocally, but physically as well. It doesn’t matter if your vocals are the best in the world; if you deliver your speech rooted in one spot with your hands at your sides, staring ahead, you’ll find that your audience won't connect with you as much as you’d hoped.
Whereas if you utilise all of your available space, you can make eye contact with everyone in the room, use more expressive gestures, walk around, and make other gestures that will make you look and feel less nervous than you are.
Hopefully by now you’ve gained more of an understanding on how you can grow your confidence as a public speaker. Remember, it won’t happen overnight, you will have to put the work in. Consider recording yourself to begin with so you can see your progress over time. Try to avoid looking at a script too much, and ensure you are making the most of the space available. Not all these tips will be relevant to you, but they’re all worth considering. Good luck.