It’s almost your time to speak. Your palms are sweating, heart is pounding and your stomach is doing a back handspring. We’ve all been there, waiting in nervous anticipation as we fear the big, bad monster called public speaking. Why are we so petrified by the art of speaking? Essentially, every time we open our mouths we are speaking publicly, unless you’re talking to yourself in private (in which you have bigger issues than the fear of public speaking).
Now, let’s get to the bottom of this. Do we fear being judged? Scared of goofing up? Or is self-doubt consuming us? Remember, nobody is ready to give a Ted Talk straight from birth. The skill of public speaking takes planning, preparation and practice. Most of all, you need to be confident in your own personal brand –YOU.
Here are the top 5 ways to evoke the utmost confidence in your public speaking:
1. Research your topic thoroughly – Many people don’t realize the invaluable step of research. Especially in PR, we use research for almost every task we complete. Ask yourself, how can you successfully report about a topic without complete understanding? That complete understanding requires diligent research. This research allows you to be an expert on your topic, that way, when people throw curve balls at you, you’re already prepared.
2. Practice – Sometimes, the best way to get comfortable with your speaking skills is to stand in front of a mirror ad practice. I know this may sound very elementary but this allows you to evaluate your own mannerisms and body movements while speaking. This way, you can figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Be your own critic now, so when you are in front of that crowd, you are completely comfortable with what you are displaying to the audience.
3. Develop a system – Have you ever listened to someone’s speech that goes on and on with no real purpose? Don’t be that person! The easiest way to stay on track is to create one. Have a clearly defined roadmap of where you want your speech to go and the points you want to hit along the way.
Develop a system and stick to it. This way, there’s never a question of what to say next. This eliminates your chances of going off on a tangent and helps the audience to stay engaged. These days, people won’t even start their cars without launching their GPS systems first. Think of this roadmap as your public speaking GPS and never start your speech without it.
4. Connect with your topic – I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s best to connect with your audience while speaking publicly, which is true, but, what about your topic? It’s pretty hard to get your audience excited about what you’re saying if you’re not excited about it yourself.
Confidence comes from within and when you are genuinely interested in the topic being discussed, people can tell. I know you may not always have the luxury of choosing the topic to present but this isn’t the end of the world. Just take this as an opportunity to really hone your research methods and discover a new facet of your topic.
5. Get rid of negative thoughts – Though easier said than done, I’ve realized that the easiest way to get rid of negative thoughts was to drown my brain with positive ones. Seriously- DROWN them. This could be by listening to soothing music, meditating for five minutes or simply imagining how well you’ll deliver your speech.
Many times, we over think what we are doing and how it will come out which can be severely damaging to your self confidence. Instead, think happy thoughts – how awesome is it going to feel when you receive that standing ovation at the close of your speech? Pretty darn awesome!
I want you all to realize that confidence is a state of mind that everyone can achieve. Believe in yourselves and everyone else will believe too. It’s really that simple.