how to speak with confidence in public
Preparation and organisation
Be prepared and organised for your presentation because this increases your control and less things can go wrong. For example:
- Visit the venue and room you'll be presenting in beforehand
- Ensure you print any materials you need at least the day before
- Create cards to use as cues
- Prepare for technical faults, such as, having a back-up in case a video does not play
- Arrive early for your speech
Positive mental imagery
Visualise delivering your presentation confidently and successfully as this will reinforce your confidence. Really imagine being there and use all of your senses to form the imagery. If you find that your visualisations are negative then challenge these scenarios by drawing on previous experiences of successful communication. Substitute the negative imagery with more realistic imagery.
Remember that you haven't been invited to present for the purpose of being ridiculed - the audience wants to hear you speak. Plan for managing your nerves by:
- Avoiding consuming too much caffeine beforehand as this is a stimulant and can leave you feeling more nervous and shaky.
- Preparing music or a podcast that you can listen to on the way to the presentation.
- Find a mindfulness exercise you'd feel comfortable doing as you travel to the venue.
- Master controlled breathing beforehand so you can engage in this right before going onstage.
- If you have time, engage in exercise beforehand. Exercising releases endorphins which reduce stress levels and make you feel better.
- Recognise that it's unlikely that the audience will know that you're feeling nervous - you do not look as anxious as you feel.
During the presentation, if you notice that you're speaking too quickly then pause and breathe. This won't look strange - it will appear as though you're giving thought to what you're saying.
You can also strategically plan some of your pauses, such as after questions and at the end of sections, because this will give you a chance to calm down and it will also give the audience an opportunity to think and reflect.
Pausing will also help you avoid filler words, such as, "um" as well which can make you sound unsure.