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How to Be Confident in Public Speaking: 9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence

May 1, 2024 | Blog

How to Be Confident in Public Speaking: 9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence
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In the past, I had big dreams, but a lack of confidence in public speaking held me back in my career. I wanted to help a lot of people, work with interesting companies and share my ideas far and wide. I wanted to make a great living and have the freedom to work on projects I loved.⁠ ⁠

How to Be Confident in Public Speaking

A fear of public speaking, networking and any kind of ‘putting myself out there’ used to be so exhausting and stressful to me that I’d often decide it wasn’t worth it.⁠ ⁠A fear of failure or rejection left me paralysed.⁠ ⁠And a sense that I wasn’t good enough made it hard for me to enjoy my work.⁠ ⁠

A few years ago I knew I needed to change if I wanted to play a bigger game, so I decided to work on my public speaking confidence and boost my self confidence.

It soon paid off.⁠ ⁠

I started putting myself forward for things instead of holding myself back. I started my podcast. I became more visible on social media. Pitched myself for PR. Started running live workshops to a couple of hundred people at a time. Doing talks for incredible companies like Stella McCartney and American Express. And networking and meeting more new people.⁠ ⁠ ⁠

Yes, the idea of standing in front of an audience can be daunting. But it is possible to overcome the fear and step into more confidence.

How to be a confident public speaker

If you’re looking to turn your nervous energy into a dynamic presentation, here are nine highly effective strategies to boost your confidence in public speaking.

How to Be Confident in Public Speaking

1. Start with a funny story

Starting a speech with a funny story can be highly effective for several reasons. Firstly, it captures the audience’s attention right from the beginning, setting a positive tone for the rest of the speech. Humour also makes you seem more relatable and approachable, helping to break down barriers and foster a connection with the audience. Making others laugh will also put you at ease, reducing any anxiety and nerves.

2. Embrace Mindfulness Techniques

Mindfulness isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a powerful tool to manage public speaking anxiety. Before your next speech, try a simple breathing exercise: take slow, deliberate breaths for a couple of minutes to centre your thoughts and calm your nerves. Research shows that such mindfulness exercises can significantly reduce stress.

2. Utilise Power Poses

Understanding the importance of body language and confident body language is key in public speaking, as it significantly affects how your message is received and your own confidence levels. Amy Cuddy’s famous research on power poses suggests that holding a pose that opens up your body can help you feel more confident. Before you take the stage or before a big presentation, spend a few minutes in a power pose—stand tall with your hands on your hips and your chin tilted upward. This could boost your presence as you speak, giving you more confidence. While the exact results discussed in Cuddy’s Ted Talk were not replicable, many people report feeling more confident after power posing.

How to Be Confident in Public Speaking

3. Practice Vocal Variability

Think about how TV presenters or those with big social media followings speak online, with enthusiasm and a lot of variation in their voice. They’re far from monotone. Changing your pitch, tone, and volume can capture and hold your audience’s attention whilst making you sound confident. Practice speaking with variations in speed and volume; record yourself and listen to see how it impacts the delivery of your message. You could try doing some vocal warm up exercises like these to warm up your voice. La la la laaaa!

4. Master the Art of Pausing

Get comfortable with silences! Those that lack confidence often rush through their speech, trying to get it over with as soon as possible. Strategic pauses during your presentation can enhance understanding and retention for your audience. They give you gravitas. Use pauses after important points to let the information sink in, or to build anticipation before revealing key details. Emphasising key points with confidence is essential in retaining the audience’s attention and ensuring your message is heard. Pausing also give you a chance to take a deep breath, which also helps you to relax.

5. Develop a Pre-Speech Routine

Create a set routine before you speak in public: this might include reviewing your notes, practicing your speech once, or performing a vocal warm-up. Maybe there are relaxing essential oils you can inhale, or a certain song you can play to boost your confidence. Consistency in your preparation can make you feel more prepared and less anxious.

How to Be Confident in Public Speaking

6. Engage in Mental Rehearsal

Visualise your public speaking event going well. Imagine yourself speaking confidently, your audience reacting positively, and you handling questions with ease. Sports psychologists widely recommend this technique to enhance athletic performance, and it can work wonders for public speakers too. This process can transform a nervous speaker into a confident public speaker, even introverts can become confident public speakers with the right mindset and preparation.

7. Record and Review Your Speeches

This may make you cringe, but it’s an important step. Recording your practices or actual performances can provide critical insights. From watching a video back of myself being interviewed on a podcast, I realised that I was making a weird claw with one of my hands, something I made a point of not doing in the future! Reviewing these recordings can help you notice patterns, such as unnecessary fillers or gestures, and improve upon them.

8. Seek Constructive Feedback

After practicing or delivering a speech, ask peers, mentors or audience members for feedback. Make sure it’s detailed and constructive, focusing on both strengths and areas for improvement. Reminding yourself of the positive feedback can help you to feel confident about your next speaking event.

9. Challenge yourself

When I was overcoming a fear of public speaking, I did things to purposefully go outside of my comfort zone. I did sober karaoke in a restaurant, and would challenge myself to always be the first to speak up or ask a question in a group. Organisations like Toastmasters provide a supportive environment where you can practice public speaking and receive structured, peer feedback. Regularly putting yourself in situations where you can practice in a low-stress environment builds familiarity and reduces anxiety. Participating in public speaking events are excellent ways to gain experience and observe effective techniques in action. You could also try improv classes or stand up comedy classes as ways to challenge yourself. Doing something outside of your comfort zone and seeing yourself survive builds confidence because you realise you are capable!

9 Ways to Boost Your Confidence

In Conclusion

Public speaking is a skill, and like any skill, it gets better with practice. By incorporating these advanced techniques into your routine, you’ll not only improve your speaking abilities but also increase your overall confidence. Avoiding common pitfalls that can cause you to lose confidence is crucial in maintaining the audience’s interest and doing your presentation confidently.

Remember, every speaker has room for improvement, so keep practicing and pushing your boundaries. Public speaking skills are invaluable, not only for career advancement but also for improving confidence in everyday life.

Public speaking courses like Speak Easy offer targeted strategies to overcome anxiety and become a more effective public speaker.


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