For some of us, confidence does not come naturally. A good friend of mine went for a job interview recently. He was not nervous about the interview itself, but then he found out that he would have to stand in front of his interviewers and draw on a white board. He locked up and had to leave the room to wipe the sweat that was dripping off his forehead. And it was all due to a lack of confidence in his ability to present.
There are a few tips for how to increase public speaking confidence. They fall into two categories: long term and short term. Long term boosters take time and patience, but have the greatest effect. Short term boosters can help us out when we’re getting started, or if we have a particularly nerve racking presentation to deliver.
One of my favourite confidence boosting tools. Before the event, find a quiet place and visualise yourself speaking in front of your biggest audience ever. Imagine everything going better than you could ever imagine. Your audience is engaged, they laugh hysterically at your jokes, and some of them personally congratulate you afterwards. Whatever results would make your speech exceptional, imagine them.
any people psyche themselves up in one way or another, and it works for public speaking. I find this to be much more effective than attempting to calm myself. It channels all that nervous adrenaline into positive energy. Not all of these methods will work for everyone, but give some of these a go for a quick confidence booster:
- Find a room to yourself and jump around like you’re a kangaroo.
- Beat up an imaginary punch bag.
- Listen to some upbeat, feel-good music. Think “We Will Rock You” by Queen, or anything really that makes you feel great.
- Power posing – position your body in a confident manner. Standing confidently tricks our brains into thinking we are confident.
This one requires a trusted friend to speak positive words over you, but it’s important to hear what they are saying. Let them tell you that you’re confident, that you can be the best (and so on). Perhaps a recording of their voice will be enough for you if they can’t always be there. It’s best not to record this yourself though, hearing the words from someone else often has a much more positive impact.
Practice is ultimately the greatest confidence booster. Speaking in front of an audience is the best way to practice, but this can be difficult if we need confidence before we start speaking. The trick is to make your mind think its in front of an audience. Put a picture or video of your audience in front of you. Now let yourself feel the emotion as if that audience was real. Perform your short term confidence boosters and practice your speech in front of your (completely real) audience.
As well as practicing your presentation, practice speaking to people on a one to one basis and in groups. When you buy something from the shop, imagine the cashier is your audience. Speak to them confidently. Speak to your colleagues confidently at lunch time.
Practice just existing in front of large groups of people. This can be difficult to achieve and takes a little creativity. I like to stand confidently at the front of the cinema before the film starts facing the audience. Perhaps you have another way to get in front of a large group of people. Imagine they are your audience and you are about to deliver your presentation. You will feel like an idiot, but this is a good thing. Embrace it and your confidence will grow.
Practice being confident in all areas of life, from brushing your teeth to riding a roller coaster. Even if you don’t feel confident, pretend that you are and keep doing it until you feel it. Our actions influence our emotions more than one might expect. Building confidence in one area of life can have a domino effect and flow into other areas. Doing this along with the other types of practice is sure to have a lasting impact on your presentation confidence.
Confidence can take years to develop, and for most people is a constant process. Ultimately, practicing confidence in all areas of life gives the greatest gains, but doesn’t offer much help if your first ever presentation is tomorrow morning. If you need a quick confidence booster, some of the short term tips can give you the edge that you need.
Do you have any helpful ideas? Leave a comment below.