I first started public speaking the way most people do … I was required to take a speech class in High School. What a time to start you out on what many people would rather die than do … when your hormones and classmates are reeking havoc with your self-image. Anyway, despite the terror I felt, I apparently did fairly well because my teacher invited me to join the Speech Team the following year.
Being on the Speech Team was probably one of the best things for developing confidence in myself that I’ve ever done. And I strongly believe that getting out there and speaking in front of groups about your business can do the same for you.
In fact, its kind of like a spiral: the more you speak in pubic, the more confident you become in yourself. The more confident you become in yourself, the better your presentations are. The better your presentations are, the more effective they will be. The more effective your presentations are, the more confident you become. Pretty cool, eh?
Here are three tips to help you get that spiral spinning you toward more confidence and more effective presentations.
1. Pretend You Are Not Afraid
The advice in this Rodgers and Hammerstein tune has been very helpful to me. No, I’m not suggesting that you get up on stage and whistle a happy tune. I am suggesting, however, that you pretend you are not nervous. Think of those butterflies in your stomach as flying around in excitement, not fear. Feign confidence and you might be surprised to find yourself truly confident … “You may be as brave as you make believe you are!.” There is something to be gained my feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice your presentation in front of a mirror. Practice it in front of a video camera and study the playback. Practice it in front of an audience of friends, colleagues or mentors who will lovingly tell you what you did right and where you need to improve.
Join a Toastmasters group and practice your presentation skills there. When I first joined Toastmasters I was very intimidated … I was the youngest member and one of only a few females. I was raised to respect my elders and, to some degree, fear men. So blossoming in that group was a great boost to my self confidence.
3. Study and Emulate the Masters
Attend live workshops and seminars and take notes on what you think is really effective about the presenters’ presentations. Watch videos of great orators and study what they do well. You can find plenty of videos on YouTube of great speeches, including the famous ones by President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
One caveat though: Always be yourself on the stage. Take what you’ve learned from the masters and make it your own. Don’t be a parrot of others … integrate what works well for and is authentic to you.
What is your biggest challenge around giving presentations?
Join the conversation on Facebook or ask your question in the reply box below! If you’re feeling really creative, you can send me a voice mail or post a video with your question. I’ll post answers to your questions on the Public Speaking Super Powers blog. And, if you like, I’ll give you credit to! For more information on how to ask your public speaking questions, watch this video.
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