I’ve learned (and observed) that successful people are confident public speakers.
Me personally, I wasn’t comfortable speaking in front of large audiences. Keenly aware of my thick Polish accent — I moved from Poland to New York at 23 — I never believed I could be an effective speaker in America. But I’ve never walked away from a challenge, realizing early on that invisibility is a fate worse than failure.
Public speaking has allowed me to take my career to an entirely new level, granting access to people and places I never had before. I don’t claim to be a public speaking guru or a particularly gifted orator, but I have delivered a number of memorable keynotes, training seminars and talks around the globe.
Public Speaking Creates Opportunities
Public speaking leads to wealth. It will help build your network, foster relationships, get new business, and increase your social media presence.
Most people are not comfortable speaking in front of large audiences: 74 percent of adults suffer from speech anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and I’m certainly one of them. I get anxious every single time I get on stage or in front of the camera.
Taking a proactive approach to developing public speaking skills can boost your confidence quickly. As your speaking confidence multiplies, you will become less anxious. I’ve also read “How to Develop Self-Confidence by Public Speaking” by Dale Carnegie, which made me realize one simple truth: It’s not about you, it’s about your content. So, take a baby-step approach to developing confidence.
Here are seven powerful tips to improve your public speaking game (these worked for me when I was just getting started).
Know Your Topic
Celebrity agent Ken Linder, a news and hosting talent representative, has said: “If you talk about things you know and are passionate about, that resonates with people.” When you know more about your topic than your audience, it’s your job to educate them.
Confident speakers develop their expertise by knowing their topic thoroughly. The work you put into research will be noticed and appreciated by your audience. Avoid picking topics that you don’t feel strongly about — it’s a sure way to ruin your self-confidence.
Confident public speakers deliver convincing arguments by absorbing as much relevant knowledge as possible. Read, study and memorize key concepts. Accumulate interesting facts, stories, quotes and examples. These will boost your confidence because you’ll have richer and more interesting content to present.
Prepare by Practicing
No successful public speaker became famous without preparation. The best prepared themselves by speaking for hours in front of mirrors or for a few select friends. Some renowned speakers simply speak at an empty room to hone their skills.
Toastmasters International suggests practicing with a timer and allowing time for the unexpected, as unforeseen events can distract nervous speakers. Visualize yourself delivering an inspiring speech. Rehearsing the speech in your mind creates a type of dry run which increases your confidence for the actual event.
Use Visuals and Power Words
Using visuals like slides, colorful images, graphs, videos and headline-heavy copy draws your audience’s attention like a magnet. It also takes away pressure and attention from your actual delivery. Draw your audience’s attention from you to your content. Even the most dynamic speakers use imagery to keep audiences on their toes.
You want to inspire, inform and entertain by delivering a high energy message. Your audience wants to use the content being presented for their benefit, so make dramatic statements to convey your message convincingly. Pepper your speech with power verbs to inspire audiences. Using effective wording and enticing imagery requires strict planning. Spend as much time as you can sprucing up your presentation to become more confident.
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