The fear of public speaking is greater than the fear of failure or even success.
Whether onstage keynote speaking, in a boardroom presenting, or having a hard conversation on a one-to-one basis, your confidence is paramount. But what makes a confident speaker and what can you do to combat this fear?
The making of a confident speaker
Know your material inside out
The first key to being a confident speaker is to know your topic inside out.
If you are speaking on stage, memorise your opening lines and practice, practice and practice some more. This will help settle nerves and ensure that you can capture the attention of everyone in the room. Starting strong sets a great pace for the rest of your speech.
When you know everything you need to know about the topic, it’s unlikely you’ll be thrown by random questions. If you are thrown a question that is left of the field, don’t let this decrease your confidence. Be honest if you don’t know the answer, but brave and confident enough to share your personal opinion.
Authenticity is the second key to winning the attention and hearts of the audience.
It can be easy to ‘slip out of character’ so just be yourself. Don’t try to imitate anyone else because very few people can pull it off convincingly.
If you are speaking about something that matters to you, concentrate on the message, not just your delivery and your passion will work for you.
Connect with your audience
The third key to confidence when speaking is to connect with your audience.
It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to one or one hundred people; eye contact is vital. Without it, you could be speaking to anyone, but as your eyes meet the eyes of your audience, they know you are speaking directly to and with them.
Less is more
The fourth and final key to confidence when speaking on stage is to remember the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Stupid or I prefer to Keep It Simple yet Stylish).
Sometimes it can be tempting to pack a lot of information in, which leaves the audience wondering where to start and then overwhelm sets in.
For large presentations, two or three key points explained in a variety of ways (theory, case studies, stories, images, models) is more effective than downloading everything you know about a topic onto your audience.
There are loads of tips on the internet with tips to boost your confidence with public speaking, however, if you start with these four tips, you will have conquered the hardest part of public speaking.