How to Speak with Confidence
Speaking to an audience is an opportunity for you to impart what you know to others. However, for some people, instead of finding this task as “an honor and pleasure,” they consider it as “horror and pressure” just standing in front of an audience, especially if the room is filled with experts or people with very high expectations.
Here are some suggestions to help you speak with confidence, maintain poise and create an impact in both formal public speaking engagement or difficult conversations:
1) Carry yourself with confidence
Start with your posture. Practice standing tall. Have your shoulders back, lift your head, and look straight. Then keep a stable stance by planting your feet on the ground. You can also walk a few steps and back and stop. When seated, sit in a posture that shows your presence. Inwardly, know that you are focused and worthy of respect. This will radiate in the way you project yourself.
Upon entering the room, smile and walk with a bounce in your stride. This confident posture will help conceal your nervousness, and eventually, you will overcome it.
2) Be prepared
Confidence comes from knowing your stuff. If it is a planned meeting or speaking engagement, spend ample days researching and preparing for it. Then rehearse your speech until it becomes natural for you, and know it by heart. You can also anticipate questions that you think will be asked during the activity so that you won’t be shaken in the event should there be so.
3) Speak clearly and avoid “umms”
In the show “How I Met Your Mother,” Robin would always begin her interview questions with “But, umm,” which became a drinking game for college students as they watched her show in a bar. Filler words such as “(but) umm” can distract your audience.
Practice clearing your speech in your everyday conversations. Learn to avoid saying “umm.” That way, you will not say them as much when speaking at the event. To help attain the discipline, try recording yourself as you practice your speech. Then from the recording, you can quickly identify the instances you said “umm” and find ways to avoid it.
However, some people do find filler words useful to construct their thoughts. In that case, try to keep it to a minimum.
4) Don’t fill the silence with nervous chatter
There will be times when your audience is too quiet, especially during the open forum part. That is okay, do not immediately conclude that you are not good enough or they got bored. Do not resort to self-deprecation, apologies, offering better alternatives, etc. If they are too quiet, you can tell them to write down their questions and comments if they feel shy to speak their mind, invite them to follow your social media page, or email you if they want to learn more. But never resort to nervous chattering to fill in the dead air.
5) Visualize it ahead of time
Imagine yourself doing the speech. Visualize yourself being on the stage or perhaps stay in front of the mirror and then practice. This increases the chance that your presentation will go well. There are also visualization exercise apps that can help prepare your mind and body for the event.
And, of course, believe in yourself. Speak from the heart. You got this!