Confidence is a key part of being successful in almost any situation, and it’s especially important when it comes to your professional life. One of the areas where confidence really matters is public speaking. Unfortunately, a lot of people are afraid of public speaking (including seasoned professionals). If you’re among them, don’t worry. With a little bit of practice and preparation, you can conquer your fears and learn how to deliver a powerful and engaging speech.
Here are five tips for becoming a confident public speaker.
1. Have a positive attitude
Being able to get your message across effectively starts with having a positive attitude. Although this may seem difficult if you’re feeling nervous, it’s actually not as hard as it sounds. The key is to know your goal and to tell yourself that you can do it. For example, if your goal is to present a new strategy to the entire company, reminding yourself that you have the knowledge and the skills to deliver a great speech is crucial to your success. This will help boost your confidence and ensure that you stay positive as you get closer to giving your presentation.
2. Picture a successful outcome
If you’ve ever heard of athletes who prepare for big games by visualizing success, there’s a good reason for that: it works! The best way to apply this tactic to public speaking is by picturing yourself giving a speech. Picture yourself feeling confident and delivering a speech that you feel good about. Then focus on what part of your visualization makes you feel the most successful. Is it being prepared and knowledgeable about the material? Or maybe it’s the way the audience engages with your speech, smiling and nodding in all the right places. Whatever it is, focus on this feeling of success and keep repeating the visualization until you’re able to convince yourself that the real speech will go just as well.
Pro Tip: Although this exercise should be a positive one, don’t be afraid to do a similar visualization where you picture the worst case scenario. Why? Because this will help prepare you for any curve balls. Although you’re unlikely to encounter any real embarrassment or problems during the speech, seeing it play out in your imagination (and knowing that you can get past it) is a great way to remind yourself that you can handle whatever comes your way.
3. Know what you want to communicate
Along with building confidence, knowing what you want to communicate is a key component of successful public speaking. The best way to do this is by coming up with a list of 2-3 bullet points that you consider to be the key takeaways of your speech. Then craft your speech with these in mind and practice it several times to ensure that you’re emphasizing these points as effectively as possible.
4. Clear your mind
Once you have you have your speech prepared and you’ve visualized a successful outcome, the next step is being able to clear your mind right before your speech. There are several ways to do this but the most effective is to practice some deep breathing. This works best if done right before the speech. Spend a few minutes breathing in and out slowly and focusing on your breath. This will help clear your mind of any remaining anxiety and will ensure that your mind and body are relaxed as you prepare to start your speech.
5. Connect with the audience
Along with being calm and prepared, one of the keys to giving a successful speech is being able to connect with your audience. The best way to do this is by making regular eye contact during your speech and by asking questions designed to engage your listeners.
Pro Tip: A great way to practice connecting with your audience is by rehearsing your speech in front of friends. This will ensure that you’re comfortable with the delivery and able to focus on engaging with your audience.
Public speaking is a great skill to have in any professional context and it’s especially impressive for recent grads who are just establishing themselves in their careers. By following these tips and growing your self-confidence, you’ll be able to become a confident public speaker and to impress current and future employers along the way.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Write a Thank You Note After An Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as What Gets You Up in the Morning?