How to Develop Confidence
Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
Most people report that giving a speech is their greatest
fear. And yet the ability to give a speech is one of the
most valued business skills today.
Try these 10 tips to get over your nervousness and to
develop confidence while speaking.
- Expect to be nervous.Even experienced speakers get nervous. Don't
try to eliminate your jitters. Turn them into energy you can use to boost your delivery.
- Prepare.Know what you are going to say – and why you want to say it.
- Practice.Speak to supportive audiences in small forums where less is at stake – at a staff meeting or a PTA meeting. Join Toastmasters or take a Dale Carnegie course.
Work with a coach.
- Breathe.In the thirty seconds before you begin speaking, take three slow, deep breaths through your nose, filling your belly. As you breathe out, say silently to yourself, “Relax.”
- Rehearse.Stand up and walk around as you practice out loud. Don’t memorize your speech or practice it word for word. Talk it through, point by point. Imagine you’re explaining your main ideas to
- Focus on your audience.Stage fright is rooted in self-preoccupation. (“How am I doing?” “Am I making any sense?”) Stop focusing on yourself. Focus, instead, on your audience. (“How are you?” “Are you getting this?” “Can you hear me?”)
- Simplify.Most speakers try to do too much in a speech. Then they worry about leaving something out or losing their train of thought. Aim, instead, to communicate
one basic idea. Keep it short and simple.
- Visualize success.Practice relaxation techniques in the days before your presentation. Lie down or sit comfortably in a quiet place. Breathe slowly. Close your eyes. Imagine your upcoming speaking engagement. Picture yourself speaking with confidence.
- Connect with your audience.Make the audience your allies. Talk to individuals before your presentation to get to know them. Look them in the eye as you speak to them, one person at a time.
When your audience sides with you, your job as a speaker becomes easier.
- Act confident.People won’t see how nervous you are. (They can’t tell if your palms are sweating or your knees are knocking or your heart is pounding.) So don’t tell them. Smile. Stick your chest out. Look confident, even if you don’t feel it.
See also "Overcoming the Fear of Public
Chris Witt, a coach based in San Diego, works with
executives and with technical experts who want to give more
effective presentations. If you're interested in
learning more about how you could benefit from his coaching,