When we first start speaking it’s natural to ask the question “how can I become more confident at public speaking?” “How can I become fearless as a speaker?” When adrenaline gets into our body when we’re nervous it plays havoc with our abilities to act normally. We just want to be good enough, to get through our public speaking without showing the audience our nerves.
Most public speakers stress and struggle about trying to “seem confident” and “look fearless”, irrespective of how they’re feeling inside. They often fall into the trap of pushing nerves away to show the audience a plastic sheen of confident public speaking. But so long as you’re pushing away your fears and nerves, you’re acting, rather than connecting with your audience.
Truly powerful public speaking starts not with 100% confident public speaking, but with talking from the heart.
1: Think your way positive!
Psychologists have found that the key to deeply confident public speaking is that they actually see themselves that way in their mental imagery. If your mental imagery is constantly reinforcing your lack of confidence, this is what will show up in your speaking. To unpick your mental imagery, you can do the following:
- Picture yourself speaking. What senses are stimulated? What do you see or smell or hear? Do you feel confident or nervous? What in your mental imagery makes it that way?
- Now play with this mental image, picture yourself looking out from your body. Change the colors in the room and see what happens to your confidence. How do you see your audience? Sitting or standing? Are they close or far? Now adjust the audience in your mental image until you feel powerful.
- Are there any “scary” people in the audience? Snipers or unreceptive audience members? Picture them with a clown nose and see if it makes you feel more confident. Do it. Yes it seems silly but do it anyway.
- Do you hear laughter or silence? Try both and see which reaction “feels” confident.
- Is your body heavy or light? Is the floor soft and inviting or hard and firm beneath your feet? Usually a firm grounding with the floor in your mental imagery will make you feel more confident
- Practice these shifts in your mental image every time you think about giving your speech – this will help you to rewire the nervous habits of your brain to access your confidence (Especially the clown nose part!)
2: Demon Slaying.
The inner critic or ‘inner demon’ is the negative inner dialogue that can be a HUGE barrier to confident public speaking. Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue that diminishes our confidence as a speaker, if we choose to believe it.
So get aware of negative ‘thoughts inside the head’ and overcome them by:
- Giving it space to ‘burn itself out’ – sometimes when you listen to an inner demon you just know it isn’t true.
- Show it all the reasons why you should be confident by focusing on all your past successes in communication. Even if you’re not an experienced speaker, look at all the other communication scenarios where you have succeeded.
- Make friends with the demon. After all, it just wants you to be safe, so it’s really your friend. But, like any other friend who’s trying to hold you back, if you give it a bit of love and patience, it will eventually calm down.
- If the demon is still not on your side, try banishing it. Imagine pushing it off a cliff, throwing it in the trash, or sending it up on a space craft. You don’t need him any more.
3: Channel Charisma.
Everyone knows you can’t MAKE yourself charismatic right? WRONG.
The word charisma comes from the Greek word “gift”, befitting the notion that allure is something you’re born with, and can’t earn. Is charisma an intangible, magical aura that you either have or you don’t? Can you learn to “work a room” with a sly grin and a smile and being comfortable in your own skin?
Charisma simply equals the confidence to be yourself (and NOT like Barbie)!
And I argue yes… charisma is something you can cultivate and use in your public speaking. Read how to develop your charisma here!
4: Attitude is everything!
- Have you ever experienced someone practically hiding at the corner of the stage during their speech or shuffling in with shoulders slouched and slumped?
- Audiences experience every nuance of a speaker… the way they look, walk, dress, and speak, within a split second of a speaker beginning. When you present yourself with an attitude of fear or discomfort it sets the rest of the stage for your entire presentation.
- Start with a negative attitude towards your speaking abilities and your whole being will show it by trying to hide (sometimes subtly, sometimes literally) from the audience. Even if you ‘put on a show’ your audience can often still tell subconsciously.
You have the ability to feel that sense of power and deep confidence that, not only do you believe in your message, but you also have the ability to convert that fear into the exquisitely delicious energy to say whatever is needed. How to become confident comes from inside of you.
Listen to that voice of certainty that shows you the amazing presenter who was there all along. With a few small adjustments and your own unique smile, you CAN learn how to become fearless and show your audience the confident public speaking that lives inside… of you. And remember… audiences aren’t the enemy, you simply need to get out of your own way.
If you’d like to find your way to more confident public speaking, why not join one of our public speaking courses? You’re most welcome!