CONFIDENCE

“The antidote to the fear of public speaking is confidence. You’re won’t be afraid to do something if you’re confident you do it well.”

– DynamiCoach Founder Tom Cobin

Here’s my simple, step-by-step plan to gain confidence — and conquer the fear of public speaking.

Research

You have a responsibility to your audience to “get it right.” The more thoroughly you know your material, the more confidently you’ll convey it. Robust research on your subject will give you confidence that you’ll be perceived as a knowledgeable subject matter expert: that your audience will view you with credibility and respect.

Reference

Let your audience know where you’ve gotten your information. This will give you confidence that they’ll trust you. It also offers a value-add for those who might want to do further reading on their own to learn even more about the subject. Include footnotes or URLs on-screen, or in a printed handout.

Review

Go over your presentation verbiage and materials — over … and over … and over again. Check the facts, the sources, the punctuation, the grammar, the sentence structure, the spelling on graphics. An automated service like Grammarly is never a bad idea. Keep reading your content out loud, to make sure it translates well from written to spoken word.

Revise

Review and Revise go together. As you go over your content and structure, you’ll want to make changes. Don’t expect to “get it right the first time.” Your initial version is just a “first draft” that will surely need revision. Consider how you might clarify your language; adjust the structure to improve the flow by moving things around; add new material; or delete what’s unnecessary, repetitive, or confusing. Once you’re confident with your content and structure, it’s time to focus on delivery.

Rehearse

As you practice, focus on recognizing when words and phrases are difficult to pronounce, awkward, or confusing. Try to get a few friends and / or colleagues to watch you practice, and get their feedback. Remember, though: it’s YOU who has to get up to speak; you’re not obligated to act on every item of feedback you may receive from others.

Record & Replay

Record your rehearsals to see and hear how you look and sound. This may prompt you to make revisions — but remember: while reviewing, revising, and rehearsing, you’ve been committing to memory; the farther along you are in rehearsing, the fewer and smaller your “tweaks” should be. Imperfect content well-delivered will be more impactful than ideal content delivered poorly.

Recording yourself should mostly focus on enhancing your non-verbal communication: vocal variety; pacing and pausing; body position and movement; hand gestures; and facial expression. Be sure you look and feel natural, comfortable, and authentic as you present.

Relax

One of the most powerful ways to gain confidence and neutralize the fear of public speaking is deep, abdominal breathing — also known as “box” breathing; “pocket” breathing; “diaphragmatic” breathing; or “(Smart)Vagus” breathing. It causes the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine: the body’s natural, internal tranquilizer. Use this technique whenever you start to feel stressed or anxious — even right in the middle of your presentation!

Recognize / Realize You’re Ready

It’s time to take the stage! Take a moment to recognize your accomplishments: how much progress you’ve made; how much time and effort you’ve put into your preparation; everything you’ve learned in the process; and just how much value you’re about to provide to your audience! Get out there and deliver your message with CONFIDENCE!

Reflect / Remember / Remind Yourself

This is the most-neglected aspect of building confidence over time: simply remembering how well you’ve done in the past when speaking to others, and the beneficial outcomes. When our fears over-emphasize the negative; we’ve got to reinforce the positive by recalling past success.

So, next time you have to speak, simply remind yourself: YOU GOT THIS!!!