Are you wondering why you seem to blow every opportunity to speak in front of a group of people? Or why you’re finding it difficult to connect with your audience as some of your favorite effective communicators would do?
No more freezing out. I can relate with you. Trying to talk to a crowd can be overwhelming, especially if you’re confused about how you can build confidence in speaking. Perhaps, after trying a couple of tricks, which all ended in futility.
Relax and read the practical tips to help you with your public speaking by building confidence.
10 Easy and Practical Tips to Build Confidence in Speaking
#1. Know your Audience
Public speaking is an art that involves serving your listeners what you have to offer. It could be a valuable talk or lecture on any topic that addresses a need relatable to them. Thus, making it similar to what a cook does.
A cook prepares and serves people the meals she thinks those who will eat her delicacy would love. I mean, people are only interested in what they need or want. That’s why you should start by knowing your audience.
And to do that, you can start by asking yourself some of these questions:
- Who are they? Are they children, teenagers, children, or adults? Or are they small business owners, employees, or top executives?
- What type of language do they speak, including colloquial or jargon?
- What do they truly need and hope to learn from you?
- What is the event all about? Is it all about teaching founders of startups how they can fundraise for their business or a charity?
Digging deep to provide answers to these queries will help you better understand the audience, whether small or large.
#2. Practice beforehand
To become successful at anything, one requires practice and adequate preparation. And public speaking is no exemption. “
No wonder Thomas A. Edison once said, “Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability…We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”
Actors around the globe (including those in Hollywood) know this and would spend hours, days, weeks, and months rehearsing their roles. Most read their scripts to an imaginary audience. Or practice in front of a mirror until every line starts coming out of their mouth naturally. Accompanied by relevant gestures and tone of voice.
Similarly, there must be adequate time to practice your speech or presentation whenever you want to deliver a talk to a group audience.
#3. Don’t try to be too perfect
American politician and motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “One of the most essential things you need to do for yourself is to choose a goal that is important to you. Perfection does not exist – you can always do better, and you can always grow.”
Now you see, it’s okay to make mistakes while you continue practicing and building the confidence to speak well. You may rehearse your speech note several times, don’t be hard on yourself.
#4. Believe you can
You must devote time to practice, but that’s not all. Believing in yourself is so important, too. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t– you’re right,” says Henry Ford.
Ford’s words couldn’t be anything less than the truth. While accepting that you need to build your self-confidence to speak well to a group of people is okay, you shouldn’t believe you can’t get better at it.
You sure can, but you must believe that.
#5. Visualize success
“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” says Napoleon Hill. So before you enter the hall filled with your listeners, you should visualize yourself in front of your audience and connect with them.
That way, you activate the positive energy you need to excel in your speaking engagement. It could be a presentation you’ll have to deliver in a business meeting at your workplace.
#6. Connect with your Smile
When you walk into a restaurant and find a child smiling at you, what do you think your response will be? You already have your response.
You most likely will smile back, even when you are not in your best mood. That’s because a smile produces a mesmeric effect on our brains. Aside from this, you can use a smile to build confidence as you communicate your thoughts and message to your audience.
Imagine you walked into the hall to deliver your presentation with a smile on your face. Doing that would have helped establish a connection with your audience, leaving them open and ready to receive what you have to say while smiling back at you.
That can, in turn, help you boost your confidence. So take advantage of the contagious effect of smiling before and in between your presentation.
#7. Make eye contact
Establishing eye contact with your audience doesn’t only make you connect with them. It helps you increase your confidence. That seems like a little secret to many who are still having a hard time with public speaking.
The more you look at your listeners, the less frightened you become. I mean, the people you’re addressing are humans like you and not some ghosts in some horror movies. And the more comfortable you get at doing this, you tend to ease your nerves and stimulate favorable responses from your audience.
Also, eye contact is a nonverbal cue that tells your audience if you’re speaking with conviction or passion about your message or with fright.
#8. Don’t be too slow or too fast
Another thing to pay attention to is your tone and speed of speech. But your practice should have helped ease things up. However, you shouldn’t try to rush your words or take five minutes before you utter your following sentence.
With that said, you can use short silence or a pause to emphasize a point. Through that, you allow your audience to ponder on what you’ve said before silence broke out.
#9. Use gestures where necessary and optimize verbal cues
Another thing you want (and should) be mindful of is your entire body language. And maintaining good body posture and using gestures tells your audience that you’re passionate about what you’re presenting to them.
According to Albert Mehrabian, a professor in psychology, “Only 7% of our communication depends on words, While our body language accounts for 55% of our communication, which is nonverbal communication. But our tone of voice takes up the remaining 38%.”
#10. Stay attuned to people’s feelings & reactions
During a speaking session, knowing what people are feeling gives you control. And that serves as a support system to your confidence because it flows with your audience’s rhythm.
Knowing what is going on in your audience’s head from observing them would be able to call them back when they get distracted. It also helps you to keep their mind engagingly centered on your message.
Bonus Tip on building confidence in speaking
#1. Active listening
Every great communicator knows the importance of listening actively. But that goes beyond listening to one’s words; to listening to their body’s reactions and nonverbal cues.
So, as one working at building in speaking, you need to be an excellent observer of your audience’s response to your presentation at every stage.
#2. Expand your vocabulary
Expanding your vocabulary is a clever tip to helping you develop confidence in speaking and communication in general. And one sure way to achieve that is through reading. You can read up the benefits of reading.
#3. Socialize often with people
One of the ways to build confidence long before a speaking engagement in a public event is by creating the habit of daily interaction with others.
This practice includes socializing with strangers or people; with whom you barely have conversations. And it will help you kill the fright that comes up each time you talk with people you’re not fond of.
A final thought on building confidence for speaking in public
Becoming a good speaker isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s achievable. Though that may become a reality after a few failures in your quest to becoming great in public speaking.
But with the tips provided in this article, you’ll get faster to your breakthrough in public speaking than you can imagine.