The fear of public speaking is greater compared to the fear of failure or even success.
Whether onstage keynote speaking, in a boardroom presenting, or having a hard conversation on a one-to-one basis, your confidence is paramount. But what makes a confident speaker and what can you do to combat this fear?
The making of a confident speaker
- Know your material inside out
The first key to being a confident speaker is to know your topic inside out.
If you are speaking on stage, it can often be a good idea to memorise your opening lines. This will help settle nerves and ensure that you can capture the attention of everyone in the room.
When you know everything, you need to know about the topic, it’s unlikely you’ll be thrown by random questions. If you are thrown a question that is left of the field, don’t let this decrease your confidence. Simply state that you will consider the right answer and get back to the person after the keynote.
- Be yourself
Authenticity is the second key to winning the attention and hearts of the audience.
It can be easy to ‘slip out of character’ so just be yourself. Don’t try to imitate anyone else because very few people can pull it off convincingly.
If you are speaking about something that matters to you, concentrate on the message, not your delivery and your passion will work for you.
- Connect with your audience
The third key to confidence when speaking is to connect with your audience.
It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to one or one hundred people; eye contact is vital. Without it, you could be speaking to anyone, but as your eyes meet the eyes of your audience, they know you are speaking directly to and with them.
- Less is more
The fourth and final key to confidence when speaking on stage is to remember the KISS rule.
Sometimes it can be tempting to pack a lot of information in, which leaves the audience wondering where to start and then overwhelm sets in.
For large presentations, two or three key points explained in a variety of ways (theory, case studies, stories, images) is more effective than downloading everything you know about a topic onto your audience.
If you start with these four tips, you will conquer the hardest part of public speaking.