How to Speak With Confidence
Have you ever wondered how a public speaker manages to speak so confidently in front of an audience? Every other person has wondered how to be a better public speaker.
Even though public speaking can be scary, the advantages far surpass any real or imagined worries. While some people may truly just be born confident, the rest of us must hone this skill.
Thankfully, confidence is a skill you can develop. Speaking confidently requires practice, understanding your audience, and maintaining a relaxed body. Believe it or not, there is no rocket science behind it but persistence, hard work, and a positive mindset.
How to Build Your Confidence When Speaking in Public
Speaking with confidence is a skill you can develop, and developing any skill takes time and effort. Here are nine tips on how to speak with confidence.
1. Ensure Constant Practice
Developing and honing a skill requires constant practice. The more you do it, the more you get used to it, and public speaking is no exception.
When you are nervous about a class presentation or any social setting, practice what you’ll say beforehand.
You can practice by first writing down your speech. Next, imagine standing in front of a real microphone and speaking to the guests.
While you are at it, you can record yourself to rate your performance later on. Doing this will also help you evaluate your pace, pauses, volume, and clarity of your voice.
2. Have Confident Body Language
For example, if you keep your hands visible and stand tall, your audience might see you as having positive qualities like enthusiasm and warmth.
On the other hand, if you make gestures like fiddling with your clothes or scratching your hair, your audience might think you lack confidence.
Keep your hands visible when speaking to show your audience that you are passionate and knowledgeable about the topic.
Another tip is to have confident body language. Keep an upright posture, and avoid slouching and pacing around too much when speaking.
Keep your head up and use facial expressions to reinforce communication. Lastly, ensure you keep your body and face relaxed.
3. Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact will help others keep their focus on you. If you have a problem keeping eye contact, find a few faces you are familiar with and keep alternating between them and the rest of the crowd.
Maintain eye contact and don’t look down at the floor when speaking. This exercise will boost your self-confidence and teach you how to express yourself more clearly.
Here are tips about making eye contact when talking to people:
When speaking, try to maintain eye contact with your audience. Your audience might assume you have better things to do or somewhere else to be if they see you looking around. You can look away for a moment, but in general, stay focused on the eyes of the people you’re talking to
If you notice someone looking confused while you’re speaking, you may begin to question whether you are not communicating your points clearly enough. However, don’t let one confused person throw you off course.
Maintaining eye contact can be difficult when talking to a large audience. So, focus on just a few people in the audience.
4. Know the Room
If you are having a presentation in school or at work, try to arrive early and familiarize yourself with the setting.
Walk around the hall and practice using the microphone. You can also count the number of chairs to know the number of people to expect.
Knowing what your crowd looks like, where you’ll stand, and what you’re up against will help calm your nerves.
Being prepared beforehand is preferable to getting a big surprise and having your confidence shaken. You can even visit the venue the day before your presentation to get more time to prepare yourself.
5. Know Your Audience
Another tip to help you overcome the fear of public speaking is knowing your audience.
If possible, it’s best to find out where your audience is coming from, their age, and their level of expertise in your field. Doing this will help you prepare your words accordingly.
For instance, if you are giving a presentation at work, your audience will likely be your boss and coworkers. Knowing your coworkers’ personalities, sense of humor, and viewpoints might help you communicate effectively.
Fear of the unknown is one of the reasons why people feel anxious when speaking in front of an audience. That’s why gathering as much information about your audience as possible is important.
6. Avoid Filler Words
Filler words like um’s, er’s, and um’s litter conversations and contribute nothing to what you say. Although filler words are usually acceptable in casual talks, they are bad for public speaking.
Using filler words during an important presentation could give the impression that you have forgotten what you’re going to say. Filler text diverts the audience’s focus away from your topic of discussion.
Instead of using filler words, try embracing the power of the pause. Great public speakers are all experts at pausing. All great public speakers know how to take advantage of “the silence between words.”
The best public speakers know how to pause briefly and hold for dramatic effects before moving on to the next point. They stay relaxed, take deep breaths, and keep smiling before resuming their speech.
Pausing is a crucial part of good public speaking. Since we are familiar with filler words, eliminating them and replacing them with pauses may feel awkward. That’s why practicing your presentation is so important.
When rehearsing your speech, focus heavily on avoiding filler words and embracing the power of the pause. Once you pay attention to the filler words, you’ll become aware of how much or how little you use them.
After that, consciously catch yourself in the moment and replace those filler words with a pause.
Taking a brief pause is a great way to let your audience know that you are comfortable speaking to them. This will also keep them interested in what you are saying.
You might also like: How to Stop using Filler Words
7. Dress For Success
Generally speaking, how we dress impacts how we feel about ourselves, including how we judge our abilities.
Clothes have a way of impacting our thoughts. For example, a doctor may feel more confident when performing a task with his coat on.
Looking smart will significantly boost your confidence levels. Therefore, choose an outfit that’ll make you feel confident and comfortable. Additionally, your clothing needs to match the theme and setting of your presentation.
For example, wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans to a presentation at work might not be the best choice. A better choice of clothing for such a formal setting would be a full-pressed suit.
You’ll feel more confident and have a better stage presence if you present while being well-dressed.
Just make sure whatever you wear doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. Also, your dressing should allow you to use your body language naturally.
8. Visualize Success
Visualize your speech going just the way you planned it. Visualize yourself speaking with a clear and confident voice.
Close your eyes and imagine the crowd clapping and cheering you. Doing this will give a significant boost to your confidence.
If you are anxious about speaking in front of your classmates, picture yourself dazzling them with your words. Picture the most confident, articulate version of yourself speaking to them.
Imagining the scenario you want to play out can greatly increase your chances of success. This way, when the big moment finally arrives, you can recall what you imagined and how to get there.
9. Praise Yourself Every Day
What you say to yourself can reduce or boost your confidence level. However, praising yourself every day will significantly boost your confidence level. You don’t have to be flawless to feel like your best self.
Negative words like “I can’t do this. These people are better than me” will only make you doubt yourself. Instead, remind yourself of all the great things you’ve accomplished and achieved through your hard work.
Look in the mirror and speak positively to yourself. For example, you can say, “I am trustworthy. I am friendly. I am working towards becoming the best version of myself”.
Say or write down three things you love about yourself. You can do this every day or once a week. Build your sense of self-worth by focusing on your strengths and addressing your flaws.
Also, spending time with loved ones and people who make you feel good about yourself can help you build your self-esteem.
Conclusion: How to Speak with Confidence
Some people are naturally born confident. They have no trouble speaking and expressing themselves publicly.
However, not everyone has the confidence to speak in front of a crowd. Fortunately, self-confidence is a skill you can hone with time.
If you find it hard to talk in a gathering, you can boost your confidence by practicing your speech, knowing your audience, and dressing the part.
Having confident body language, visualizing your success, and appreciating yourself more often are also great ways to build self-confidence.