7 Steps To Become A Confident Public Speaker

By on January 6, 2013

Giving a speech can be nerve wracking for even the most confident of people; there’s just something about standing in front of a large group of people which can be terrifying. However, prolific public speakers always have a few tricks up their sleeve to either relax them, or at very least make them appear at ease. Here are a few of our favourites.

1) Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
The most important part of giving a speech is the preparation. If you know what you want to say inside out (and even a few variations of it) then you’re bound to feel much happier, even if you do hit a blip. Great ways to memorise your topic include repetition (though not too much or you’ll zone out), practice, and even just discussing the topic in general with a friend or partner. If you know what you’re talking about thoroughly then you’re far less likely to slip up.

2) Body Language
Feigning confidence is simply a matter of body language. If you look relaxed then your audience will be, and after a little while you’ll start to believe it. Stand up straight, shoulders back and down, and lift your face. Standing properly can also help you to project your voice, so you know those listening can hear every word.

3) Controlling Your Voice
The biggest worry speakers face is often that their audience will be able to tell that they’re nervous; one of the biggest tell-tale signs is a trembling voice. To keep it in check, take a few deep breaths, right from your diaphragm. This will both calm you and help you focus. You’ll also feel more relaxed if you concentrate on speaking slowly, with pauses between your words. After a little while it’ll be second nature and the trembling voice will be gone.

4) Making Eye Contact
Eye contact is a public speaker’s best friend. Not only will it draw your listeners in, but it can also make you feel more at ease. Simply make eye contact with one listener in the room, and stay with them for the remainder of that sentence or thought, then move on to someone else. It makes public speaking feel more like a series of short conversations, and far less nerve wracking.

5) Forgetting What You Were Going To Say
Many of us have a mini breakdown when it comes to the thought of forgetting our speech, however it’s relatively easy to prepare for. First off, if you’ve done your research and you’re confident in the topic then it probably won’t matter if you forget exactly what you were planning to say. As long as you have a good working knowledge of the topic as a whole, you’ll probably be fine. If you’ve not had time to put in that sort of preparation (or if you’re worries about it regardless) then take a few flashcards with you. Revision cards work well. Just condense your speech to a few bullet points; it will usually be plenty to jog your memory and keep you on track.

6) Keeping Nerves In Check
If you’ve practised your topic, got eye contact down to a tee, and are great at keeping the tremble out of your voice, then the odds are that any nerves are nowhere near as debilitating as they were originally. But, if you’re still feeling worried and a bit shaky as you take the microphone then just remember, your listeners don’t know you’re nervous and confidence is all about faking it. Pretend to your crowd that you’re feeling fine and pretty soon you’ll believe it too.

7) Dress To Impress

Don’t underestimate the power of dressing for the occasion. If you look and feel fantastic then it will a) make you feel more confident about speaking and b) impress your listeners and distract them from any first sentence nerves.

So next time you’re asked to give an after dinner speech, or be a keynote speaker at an event, don’t fear it. Just follow these steps and everything should go perfectly. And remember, if you do feel a little shaky then feign confidence and you’ll be half way there!

Muhammad Hamid, an experienced blogger and public speaking enthusiast

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