By Anubhav Srivastava (Register for his Confidence Building Workshop Here!)
How To Appear Confident While Public Speaking Even If You are Nervous?
One of the best yardsticks of a person’s confidence level is how reassured they are when they are speaking to the public or a gathering. And yet ironically Public speaking is an activity that seems to often make even the most confident of people nervous.
Public speaking is amongst the top phobias for people who haven’t done it before.
There is a cliché that says that more people are afraid of public speaking than they are of death.
How many of you have heard of that?
That’s obviously nonsense because that would mean that a person going to a funeral would rather be the dead person than say something in praise of the dead person! (Yes Jerry Seinfeld said that!)
The statement that people are more afraid of public speaking than death has usually been used as a marketing tactic by speakers, and while it’s not really true for most people, public speaking is definitely one of the top phobias in the world today.
Now, some phobias are the kind that you can live with, I mean if you have a phobia of snakes, it doesn’t really matter that much unless you plan to be a snake charmer!
But public speaking is not one of them. Even if you dislike speaking to a group, there will be times, even in events in personal life where you will be asked to speak up in a group.
And Public speaking is extremely crucial for professional success.
Almost all of the great leaders in the world are terrific public speakers. And not its not just important for public figures. In the corporate world also, great public speakers and presenters have an ability to influence people more, thus increasing their chances of success.
Along with the art of writing, the art of public speaking is one in which you can influence a large group of people in a very short time.
There really is no short to success, but there is the tiny lane, a slow congested road and then there is the highway. Being good at public speaking guarantees that you are on the highway to professional success!
So, how do you become better at public speaking?
I am not going to go into the skill aspect of public speaking because that takes a long time to learn.
But I am going to tell you one little thing you can do to appear really confident while you are speaking, even if you are nervous!
First, let’s understand how nervousness works when you are supposed to give a speech. For most people, nervousness starts building right at the time they are told to give a speech.
If the speech is a prepared one then the nervousness steadily increases right in the last few hours before you are supposed to deliver your content as you practice over and over again and ensure what you are doing is impressive enough. It sharply increases in the last few minutes of when you are supposed to give your speech.
It finally HITS a peak when you walk on the stage and make your introduction and depending on your level of comfort with public speaking and your preparedness for your speech, gradually the nervousness starts subsiding as you become more comfortable on the stage!
For those who have given speeches before, would you agree that this is the kind of pattern your speeches usually follow?
I would bet, most would agree, even seasoned speakers.
So as we can see, it is right around the starting stages of a speech that nervousness is at its highest and what direction your speech goes in depends a lot on the kind of body language you display in the initial couple of minutes.
Here is where the strategy I am about to suggest will come on. It’s called switching on your Power Mode.
Pick a song that really pumps you up and motivates you. It can be from a movie or it can be from an album. The point is it should be the kind of a song that really pumps you up.
Ideally you should do this exercise regularly but if you can’t then at least do it on the day of the speech, whenever you get some time for yourself.
Put on the Song, Get Charged up. If you want you can use the Headphones.
Now Do make sure you are doing it somewhere you are safe. You don’t want to be doing it while driving your car.
Now start telling yourself regardless of your level of preparation or your skill in public speaking that you are the BEST.
“I am the best!”
“I am gonna rock this presentation!”
“I am going to give the best damn speech this world will ever see!”
Stretch your arms out like in a Victory pose and pump them in the air over and over again while you scream. This is going to tell your body to get into the same extremely confident state that you are forcing your mind to get into.
If you don’t want to scream or be seen in front of others, just go quietly backstage if it is available
Keep your volume low if you have to but keep the intensity of the words high and keep pumping your fists in the air. Punch your fist over and over again on your palm as you scream or repeat those words in your mind.
Now you are in the psychological state of feeling like you are a winner. If you have to appear before the public before you come on stage, do so but keep repeating those words in your mind.
Now go on stage while you are in that psychological state and for the first minute, if you are particularly nervous, you can even ignore that there are people looking at you. Start your speech with that pumped up intensity and body language and pretend there is no one in the room.
Whatever opener you have prepared for your speech, deliver it with intensity. Even if you fumble or forget what you have to say, just keep saying something. At this point it is more important that your body language conveys the right message even if you fumble with your words. Don’t care about the judgment of people, in fact, pretend they don’t even exist.
After a minute or two, depending on your past experience and skill with speaking you will gradually see your nervousness go down. And now if you are comfortable, you can relax a bit and let your speech become more conversational. If you are not then keep going the way you started, but more often than not you will find that you have become more relaxed on stage to shift gears.
What you have done is to harness the power of autosuggestion to tell yourself you are the best even when you are not. And Autosuggestion can be tremendously useful to build confidence whether you do it on a regular basis or give you a strong confidence boost right before a big event, meeting or an interview.
In fact some of the most successful people do it all the time. Sportsmen get pumped up before they get ready for a game. A lot of successful businesspeople and speakers psyche themselves up before a big speech or presentation.
This exercise is not a replacement for good preparation, nor will it gift you the skills to be a great speaker overnight, however, it is tremendously effective to boost your confidence levels in the first few minutes of your speech where nervousness is at its highest.
Saying you are the best will not make you the greatest speaker in the world overnight HOWEVER, it is going to fill you with such tremendous confidence if you repeat it long enough that giving the speech you feared will become a cakewalk!
At the very least, It will give you the body language of a winner. It make you feel like you are ready to take on the world and that’s half the battle! That in itself will impress many of the audience members
This technique is widely used and effective. When you fill yourself with confidence even when you are not the most skilled, you actually put in the effort to do the best you can because you truly believe that you are the best.
Over a period of time this “fake confidence” when complimented with regular practice translates into real skill and then you no longer have to fake it because it becomes REAL Confidence. Congratulations, you just managed to Fake It till you made it!
About the Author
Anubhav Srivastava is an author, speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields. It has been seen by over 1 Million People on Youtube. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
For one on one consulting or a motivational workshop at your organization please email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to write a guest blog post on Anubhavsrivastava.com you contact on the same email address.
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