Most people terrify of speaking in public or at the very least they cringe with anxiety of just the thought of standing in front of an audience to give a talk.
I would see this on a daily basis with my students at the start of every course. The good news is that these feelings did not last for a long time and by the end of the course most were able to deliver inspiring presentations with confidence and clarity. I say most, because building confidence in public speaking and more so when pitching an idea, is something that requires work and time.
You will not be able to wake up a confident new you and deliver like a Tony Robbins from one morning to the next. However, I want to share with you three surefire ways to begin to build your confidence while speaking whether you are asking for a raise, or presenting to senior management the next quarterly report or even during your next meeting with a new potential customer; you can start to be more assertive and self-assured today.
The Power of Visualization
Visualizations have an enormous power over our mind. Great speakers and top-performing athletes use visualization techniques to do incredible and admirable feats. After breaking the 100 meters world record with a time of 9.58 seconds, Usain Bolt was quoted as saying,
“I just visualized and then executed my plan.”
Studies confirm that visualizations can physically impact your body. Visualization is effective because according to Dr. Frank Niles, it activates the brain cells located in the frontal cortex telling your body to perform those actions. This creates a neural pathway that primes your body to react in the same way consistent with what you imagined.
Visualizing and thinking of yourself in a calm and confident state causes the body to believe that in fact, you are in control. It also transforms the physical sensations before a panic attack. This is because while performing an effective meditation and visualization together, it releases different hormones and chemicals in the brain that helps you relax.
Find a FREE audio meditation with visualization to help you feel more calm and confident before your next pitch HERE
The most effective way to reap the benefits of this technique is by doing it and then following up by practicing the activity you imagined. That brings us to the next action to improve your confidence. It’s actually a sequence of steps.
Practice, Record and Show.
When we practice and record our speeches we can more clearly notice our mannerisms and the way we are coming across. Think smart, proud, shy, low or high energy; then we can tailor our delivery to what the event and our audience demands.
Another reason why its important to review your recording is because you need to start to get used to the sound of your external voice. Your external voice sounds slightly different than the voice that you hear. That is because as our voice travels across our upper body, brain and bones, these mass affects the sound waves of your voice resulting in a different sound than the one we receive deep in our inner ear.
The final step in this sequence is show. You have to show this recording to a friend or acquaintance so that you can receive friendly feedback and have another set of eyes notice what we might have overlooked ourselves.
Knowing that you have to complete this step will also put your feet to the fire and motivate you to be more focused and do a better recording. We have a Facebook Community were you are welcomed to post a recording and receive friendly feedback and commentary to help you improve your delivery. Join HERE!
The final action to build supercharge your confidence while speaking might appear obvious but you will be surprised at the large amount of people that don’t follow through with this very clear must-do.
Know your Topic Inside Out
Knowing your topic as an expert will build your confidence like no other action you take towards becoming a more assertive and powerful speaker. To master your subject will also allow you to be more relaxed and focus on other aspects of the presentation as it unfolds such as reading a room and assessing audience’s engagement and make modifications to your presentation if necessary. It leads for true passion to come through and people can pick up on that because you will not be delivering a memorized speech, but rather communicate with emotion why this subject should matter too them. All of this because you know your topic like the palm of your hand.
I usually ask my students to share stories of success in the classroom as a way to warm them up to speaking to an audience. One of my favorite stories was that of a student who admitted himself to be very shy, however he really wanted to start an investors club at the university. He decided to go ahead and advertise the first meeting and was able to bring a sizable crowd.
Before starting to speak the anxiety was taking over and felt like he was about to panic. However, he pulled through and after just delivering a few sentences to introduce himself, asked the audience to ask him questions. His knowledge of the topic was so extensive that in the end he forgot about his nerves as he was truly excited to share his knowledge with his peers. That club went on to be a very successful one and very well attended too! The audience really received value through the depth of the knowledge he shared.
As a rule of thumb you should prepare for 30 hours before delivering a structured 1 hour presentation. That includes the time to craft your message, develop the visual design and practice your delivery. Before you get all hot here thinking: I don’t have that kind of time!, consider this: What is at stake during my next pitch? Could it be to impress my boss (or THE boss!), can it be to secure a new contract or to bring on board a new distribution partner? Whatever it is, there is enormous value in the time that you put in to prepare for your next speech.
Although people think that you only get out, what you put in. Actually, in this case, I believe that by practicing these actions before you have your next big opportunity to shine, you will actually get exponentially more than the investment of time you put into it. Big rewards await. Go get’em!
Lorraine Tamburrino Consultant and Lecturer in Public Speaking and Organizational Communication Founder Core Speech Communications
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