Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert speaking in front of a crowd can be scary. You might forget your words, fall on stage or bore your audience to death. To help you deal with these real but often irrational fears, here are 7 tips for speaking with confidence
Body posture reflects our mental state. While giving a speech, you always want to appear confident, like you know what you’re talking about…which we hope you do. Hunched shoulders portray a speaker as insecure while slouching on your chair shows a don’t care attitude towards the topic of discussion or the audience. Always have your back straight while standing or sitting. In an informal setting, you may even cross your legs while sitting to make the audience more comfortable and relaxed. The goal of body posture is to appear relaxed.
Practice, Practice, Practice
They say practice makes perfect and it often does. Steve Jobs was known as a stickler for practice for his yearly Apple conventions. He’d run through the slides tens of times. But practice does not mean that on the day of everything will go perfectly. You must be ready to improvise. Once at an Apple convention when a slide didn’t come on, Steve jobs improvised by telling a funny story of the pranks he and Steve Wozniak played on fellow students when they were younger. It kept the audience engaged while the stage managers worked fervently fixing the problem backstage, probably worried they’d all lost their jobs.
At the end of every speech, audiences often have about 10 minutes to ask questions. It can be nerve-wracking having to think of answers on the go. It’s best to have a system and work with that. There’s no glory in trying to impress the audience by taking too many questions at a go. Some speakers choose to answer one question at a time. Some choose up to three, giving themselves some time to quickly go over the answers in their head. Don’t be afraid to jot down the questions as they come.
Make eye Contact
Darting around the room or only focusing on the moderator is probably the worst thing you can do. It disengages you from your audience. It’s much more effective if you directly look at specific audience members at a time throughout your speech. Often choose those who seem to be nodding along as you speak or cracking a smile at your jokes. It makes them feel like you’re having a conversation with them and builds up your confidence.
Choose your outfit
It may seem trivial, but an outfit can affect your confidence. A well fitted smart outfit that matches the occasion, takes your attention away from worrying about how you look and puts it squarely where it belongs, your audience. While speaking to an audience, on TV or in person, it’s important to keep it simple. Shiny or bold print can often be distracting for audience members, especially on tv. The audience is there to hear you speak, make sure they do.
While the moments right before you walk on stage can be full of anxiety, sweat and often make you feel dizzy, once you get there, you quickly realize that it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.