3 Simple Steps to Confidence in Public Speaking
Fear of public speaking is highly common, and unfortunately can hold you back from doing what you want or need to do
Christopher Paul Jones, who specialises in working with phobias, offers three simple tips to being a confident public speaker
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75% of us have a fear of public speaking. So if you find speaking difficult, the good news is you are not alone with that!
Traditionally, a fear of public speaking was associated with standing in front of an audience, speaking, but today, as we venture into a world that is post pandemic, the fear of public speaking is vastly different. Now, there is the fear of speaking on Zoom, Whatsapp, or any other arena via the internet.
In this article I will outline three easy steps that you can take to speak with confidence, anytime and anyplace. So whether your next speaking gig is in a bricks and mortar venue or transmitted over the internet, you don’t need to let nerves get the better of you.
Here are my top tips on how to speak confidently:
1. Practise, practise, practise, and then practise again
Ask your closest friend, a family member, whoever you feel most comfortable with, to be your guinea pig to practise on. When it comes to speaking, the more you can ‘do it’ the sooner you’ll begin to feel more comfortable with it.
One thing to mention here, is notice that I didn’t say ‘practise makes perfect’ – you do not need to be perfect when speaking, in fact, people respond best to people, so the more authentic that you can be, the better.
2. It’s time to discover your ‘power pose’
A power pose is literally what you’d expect it to be – a pose that makes you feel powerful. Think ‘posing like a Superhero’, and you’ve pretty much got your power pose.
When you change your state physically, you change your state mentally, so shoulders back, sit with your spine straight, and lift your chin a little. If you are standing, keep your feet apart, and arch your chest a little. One great tip is to perform your power pose as you listen to some uplifting music, something that makes you feel like anything is possible. Do this right before your performance and then as you walk on stage, or log onto that Zoom meeting, you’re hopefully going to feel incredible.
3. Pace yourself, don’t race yourself
It’s only natural when you are feeling nervous, to want to get the thing ‘over’. Or, you want to appear eager and confident, and in trying to give that impression, somehow you rush your way through things. Take a deep breath, hold it, let it go, and do this before you start speaking.
Be aware of the present moment. Focus on your feet on the floor and when you feel yourself rushing, bring yourself back to your body. This is called grounding, and it can really help to focus you. The more you try to rush things, the more you’re likely to forget something. Think about it, how many times have you gone to the Doctors, only to come away and say to yourself ‘Oh, I totally forgot to mention it’, because you were rushing because of anxiety. So remember, if you feel your mind or mouth running away from you, go back to your breathing, and focus on the ground beneath you.
One great tip is to get yourself into a really relaxed state, do your breathing exercises for a few minutes, close your eyes and connect to the ground beneath you and when you feel deeply relaxed, place your forefinger and thumb together and squeeze. This creates what we call an ‘anchor’. You can then trigger this anchor right before your presentation, putting yourself right back in that emotional state of feeling calm and grounded.
Hopefully these three tips will help you with your next speaking opportunity, remember, people relate best to people, so just be yourself, and place your attention on your audience. When you do this, you take the focus on your needs and think about theirs.
Christopher Paul Jones is a phobia expert who specialises in fear of public speaking and fear of flying