Fear of public speaking? 5 great tips for public speaking confidence!
Public speaking is one of the top three fears among adults in both the UK and the US, so although it might feel like you are the only one who is battling with the nerves, that’s very far from the case. Here are some tips that deal with some of the most common problems people experience with public speaking.
Five tips to help you with public speaking
Invite the attention in
Do you hate that moment when you stand up in front of a group to speak and everybody looks at you? Well don’t! It’s a sign that your audience are engaged and want to hear what you have to say. If you think about it, what do you do when you see someone you want to listen to? You stop speaking and look at them! Embrace those looks and take it as a sign that your audience are interested and ready to listen!
Beat the brain freeze
Have you ever been in the middle of speaking and suddenly... brain freeze! Your mind goes blank and you look like a rabbit caught in the headlights! Chances are you temporarily forgot something, and you’ve stopped breathing or are holding your breath. All you need to do is trust yourself, clear your mind, focus, and breathe. The thoughts will come flooding back in no time. Phew!
Stop trying to double and triple check
Trying to double check what you are saying in your head before it comes out of your mouth? Forget it, or rather forget trying to remember it. We have one conscious audio channel and it's taken up by hearing ourselves speak. Trying to check what you are saying whilst speaking just sends your system into overload. As a test, try talking about something you know well, and halfway through say Twinkle Twinkle little star to yourself ‘out loud’ in your head. It just doesn’t work! You choose what to say in the back of your mind every day. Know your subject, trust yourself, and free up your subconscious to do the thinking and your conscious mind to be in the present moment!
Sound human again
Ever found that, when you’re nervous, you open your mouth to speak and suddenly have a really high pitched voice? Don’t worry, you aren’t turning into a mouse! It’s just that the muscular tension around your throat has trapped your larynx in one place. The larynx stretches to make high notes and shrinks to make lower notes. Put your hand on your throat and slide from a high note to a low one and you’ll feel it. If you just relax and swallow, or take a drink of water, everything will reset and you’ll sound more human again!
Boost your confidence
If you want to feel like a more confident speaker, use this exercise to get in touch with the 'naturally confident you' inside. Close your eyes and remember a particular time you felt really relaxed and confident. Think in great detail. Who was there? Are there any sounds or aromas you recall? What exactly is allowing you to feel so relaxed? Imagine the feeling of relaxation flooding through your whole body. As you do this, take slow, relaxed breaths. The breath will send a physiological message to your brain that you are confident and happy. Open your eyes and you are ready to go!
Whether you are someone who just wants to move from good to great with your speaking, or someone who feels too scared to stand up and speak or go on stage, the great news is that you can move forward, be relaxed, and turn into a great speaker. Remember there is hope for everyone! It's surprising how little time we give to improving our technique, and instead focus on all the issues. If you want to become a better public speaker, join a course for a weekend or book in with a qualified voice coach - it can really transform the way you feel and the way you speak and connect!