Five Tips to Becoming a Confident Speaker
Are you one of the many professionals whose knees get weak at the thought of speaking at a meeting, let alone a conference?
Stephen Keague, author of “The Little Red Handbook of Public Speaking,” has six little P’s for you to remember: “Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance.”
In addition to Keague’s advice, there are several other tips that may prove helpful in your journey to becoming a more confident speaker.
- Acknowledge your nerves. Managing your anxiety by acknowledging your nerves won’t make the butterflies go away, but doing so can keep it from increasing. Tell yourself you’re nervous and that’s okay, then refocus on your planning and preparation.
- Research. Nothing says confidence quite like knowing and understanding your topic. It’s easier for your message to flow when you feel comfortable with the information you’re providing. Be prepared for Q&A’s after your speech. Have the answers you need by knowing deeper details than just what you are discussing. But also know that when a member of the audience asks a question you do not have the answer to, you should admit that it’s outside your scope of current knowledge. If possible, follow that with an offer to answer it after you do some research.
- Practice. You can practice in front of a mirror, but instead consider setting up a camera to record your rehearsals. Whether the event will be live or online, the camera will provide a better visual reference for critiquing your presentation. Watch for signs of nervous fidgeting, swaying, pacing and other non-productive movements. Listen for filler words such as “uh,” “um” and “so.” Replace them with a breath or a purposeful pause to fill the space between your thoughts. If someone is able to listen to you practice, have them drop a penny in a glass jar every time you use a filler word. This allows you to immediately acknowledge the distracting words and therefore make it easier to eliminate the habit.
- Relax. Breathing deeply relaxes your voice and can improve your delivery. Too much muscle tension can also affect the way you appear and sound. Before taking the stage, roll your head, wiggle your toes and fingers, and shrug your shoulders a few times to help you relax.
- Enjoy yourself. The last thing to remember is to have fun. Fun is contagious. When you enjoy what you do, your audience will be more engaged. Plan an opening joke or story, or maybe a little game that revolves around your discussion. Reward them with prizes at the end of your speech if they interacted with you and became a part of the discussion.
You’re going to rock this speech!