Public Speaking Confidence

Nervous speaker lacks public speaking confidence when peering into a room with audience

Do I really have to speak to all those people?

A Confidence Trick

Building public speaking confidence.

Why is speaking to an audience so challenging for so many people and the confidence to do it such a rare commodity that it requires building up?

The reasons can be complex but there’s no question that for lots of us, public speaking is a fear. A big one.

Of course, for many, it isn’t a big issue as we avoid situations where we might need to stand up and talk in front of an audience, whether that’s three or four people or three or four hundred.

Our post on how to overcome a fear of public speaking looks at some of the causes and the cures. It explains how the snowball effect – small issues building up over time – can create fears.

But sometimes it’s possible to employ a kind of reverse snowball approach to melt the fear and build your confidence for public speaking.

Melting The Snowball

Building public speaking confidence isn’t something that happens overnight. Don’t try to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve.

For example, when you meet with two or three friends for coffee (or a beer!) try to speak up a bit more instead of sitting silently, peering into your cup or glass.

Then try a similar approach in a work meeting. One where you know the subject and can speak with knowledge.

Have you ever been asked to do something, to take on a role, and you’ve wondered, why me? Maybe the person asking you could see qualities that you didn’t see yourself.

Look back and try to see things that have gone well – see the positives. Use them to build your confidence, whether for public speaking or life in general.

Aim to slowly build up speaking challenges to gradually reduce anxiety.

Know what you are talking about and know that you know what you are talking about. It’s called believing in yourself. And if you are ever asked to speak on a subject you know little about, politely decline.

Good Enough?

Of course you should know your subject before stepping on stage, but try to avoid perfectionism.

You don’t need to be the world expert, just aim to know enough to be able to answer the audience’s questions. And to deliver your message in a confident style.

Even if we are reasonably confident about speaking, many of us will suffer imposter syndrome at some point. Imposter syndrome is where you question your right to be ‘on stage’, in whatever form that takes. Are you good enough? Do you know enough – are you sufficiently qualified? Are you experienced and senior enough?

It’s easy to see the negatives. It’s easy to look at others and think you could never be that good. But what about trying to see what others see in you to help build your confidence for public speaking?

If you have friends or colleagues who you trust to be objective, try asking them to highlight one thing that they think you are good at. The answers might surprise you.

Remember, you are good enough!

Last updated 3rd April 2024

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