Ten Tips To Become a Confident Public Speaker

By Jayaram V

Mirroring Behavior

An important aspect of public speaking is overcoming fear, nervousness or lack of confidence. Even the most talented public speakers, experience weak moments when they stand before an audience. However, they know how to conceal it and regain their composure. The following suggestions will help you deal with public speaking fear.

1. Plan the strategy: The purpose of a speech may be to inform, to persuade or to entertain. Of this the last one is more difficult, unless you have a natural talent to impress people with your skills. Persuasion requires a softer, and convincing approach, while informative speeches may be formal or technical and require more focus upon facts and information. Emotion plays an important role in all these, but it must be used with subtlety and reason.

2. Know your audience: A lot of success in public speaking depends upon knowing what your audience wants or expects from your speech, and what the purpose of speech is, and preparing accordingly. The speech is not about you, but the audience. If it helps them and if it is meaningful to them, they will appreciate and may even ignore any drawback they may notice in your presentation.

3. Prepare: Prepare thoroughly, gathering as much information as possible on the subject. The more time you spend in preparation, the greater will be your control over the topic and confidence in delivering it. Make sure that you manage your time well during the presentation and your speech fits well within the allotted time. If your audience comes from diverse background, keep the cultural barriers and factors in mind, while you choose your language, words and expressions.

4. Practice: Preparation is the first part and practice or rehearsing is the second. Practice as much as possible. Read your speech aloud. If necessary, record it and listen to it to notice the tonality and voice modulation. Rehearse your speech. The more you practice your speech, the better will be your presentation.

5. Visualize: A lot of stress and fear associated with public speaking can be overcome with the help of visualization. Visualize the audience and speak to them. Visualize feeling confident and delivering the speech with poise. Visualization helps you mentally prepare for the occasion and subconsciously automate your actions and responses.

6. Attune your mind: On the day of the speech, keep yourself in good spirits. The night before, make sure you sleep well. Exercise to calm your nerves. Exercise will remove lethargy from your body and increase blood flow to your brain, thereby helping you feel active and energetic. If necessary, use affirmations and avoid unnecessary distractions to boost your confidence and keep the mind in a positive frame. If you are positive, it will show in your speech and demeanor.

7. Connect with the audience: On the stage, check all your equipment. Make sure everything is working. Keep a bottle of water and use it only when there is an interruption or when you are not speaking. To improve audience response, pay attention to your body language, maintain a good posture, dress properly, avoid clich├ęs and mannerisms, walk around in a relaxed manner, use examples and case studies, ask questions, keep smiling and maintain eye contact with the audience. Pace your voice, with pauses so that if you are nervous it will not show.

8. Let the audience know you: It is very important that you are properly introduced to the audience before you begin your speech, or speak briefly about yourself, summing up your major achievements and experience or professional knowledge in the field or the subject. If you are already known to them, you can bring to their attention the previous occasions when you spoke to them and mention a few details just to refresh their memory.

9. Post presentation steps: After the speech is over, get feedback from the people. Look for their response and nonverbal cues. Check your own performance, and whether you have met your objectives. If it has been filmed, watch the video. Learn from the experience and see where you can improve further.

10. Learn from others: Improve your knowledge of public speaking by reading books about the subject, seeking mentors, watching others and learning from them. At the end of this article, we have included a few important books and resources, which you may find to be useful to improve your skills.

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