Public speaking is something that many fear. There’s the fear of messing up, the fear of what the audience is thinking of you, etc. In the business world, public speaking is a skill that we must gain and master. Partners, employees, investors, etc follow and listen to leaders that demand their attention, command the stage and hold a confident presence while presenting. It doesn’t matter if you are speaking during a small team meeting or your entire organization, people are looking at you and your actions, not just the content you’re presenting.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t some tricks or ways that can help you project confidence, even when you may feel you are about to fall apart inside.
- Dress to impress – If you look confident you feel confident. Have you ever heard of dressing the part? If you look at the part, you are able to play the part. When the audience looks at you, their eyes will follow you and it will help you hold the room, projecting confidence.
- Breathe- Do not underestimate the power of learning breathing exercises. This will help slow down your heart rate, keep your pace while speaking and relax your body during this situation. Practice your breathing skills and techniques before that big meeting, conference, or speaking engagement. Learn techniques at home and practice, this will come in handy when you can be put on the spot during a team meeting or when notified that you will be speaking sometime during that workday.
- Practice- Practice, practice practice. If you have been told you will be speaking at an upcoming conference, engagement, or meeting days prior, practice your speech. Use your phone as a timer and time yourself. Write down bullet points that you will need to hit, and practice those points out loud. Record yourself with your phone. This helps because you are able to view yourself as if you were the audience. You will be able to point out little ticks, body language given out, your tone, volume, and pace.
- Pace yourself- Breathe. Many people, when presenting, can let their nerves get the best of them and start to talk rather fast. This can lead to one jumbling up their words, forgetting what they were saying and other issues. If you notice yourself getting excited, or starting to speak fast, stop, take a breath and continue. This will help you slow down your pace, while still exuding the confidence you have in the subject matter.
- Understand that people are there to hear you – You are the one speaking about this subject and know more about it than others. Take pride in that and use it to your advantage. The audience will not know when you’ve messed up unless you show them. Be mindful of your body, and your facial expressions. No matter what, keep going, smile and work that room to your advantage. This will help in connecting with your audience, whether it is a small meeting, a large speaking engagement, or a conference.
We at Peagram Consulting understand that public speaking can be different for everyone, but know that if you can follow these simple steps, soon you will find that you may not always feel fully confident on the inside, but know you will know how to project it on the outside.
Alex Arriaga, M.A.
Consultant and Corporate Trainer