How to Build Confidence in Public Speaking – 5 Powerful Tips

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You feel confident. You know what you’d like to talk about. You’ve practiced your talk for some time. You go up on stage feeling good, but with each step you take, you feel the confidence pouring out of you. Finally, you look at the crowd, and start feeling very uncomfortable. You feel weak and forget what you wanted to say.

If this sounds familiar, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you how to build confidence in public speaking using the 5 tips listed below.

Become a Better Public Speaker

Tip #1 – Know the Material Well

 

It’s hard to be confident when you’re not really sure what you’re talking about. Any small question or remark from the audience can throw you off completely, and leave you in a state where you’re not even confident of the things that you know. You need to make sure you know the material very well, including answers to questions the audience may ask.

Other than knowing the material well, if you’re using slides, you should know them very well. In order to build your confidence in public speaking you need to act like a professional and make sure you are on top of your presentation.

Keep in mind that this definitely doesn’t mean you need to learn your speech by heart. In fact, I suggest you don’t learn it by heart. Use the slides to remind you of the key points you should address, and let the speech come out naturally. People don’t want to feel that a robot is talking to them, but rather a person who conveys emotions.

Especially in a setting where questions can be asked, and most definitely when you can receive questions during your speech, it’s more important to know what you’re talking about really well and just let the conversation flow, than it is to be rigid and stick to some text you learned by heart.

Tip #2 – Present to a Small Group

 

In order to practice, you should not only practice your presentation alone, but also practice presenting to a small group of people. At first, you can just use your friends or colleagues, assuming they’ll be honest enough to tell you what they think.

In order to gradually build your confidence in public speaking, it’s a good idea to practice the presentation in front of different groups of people. It’s even more beneficial if some or all of the people you’re presenting to are people you don’t even know (but may be interested in what you have to say). If you can captivate them, you’re almost there.

Build Your Confidence in Public Speaking - Man on Stage

Tip #3 – Get There Early

 

The last thing you want to happen is to find out at the last minute that something is not working the way you expected or that there’s some sort of issue with the equipment. This will cause you stress and lower your self-confidence, which doesn’t bode well for your presentation.

It’s important to get to the venue well ahead of time and check that everything connects properly, that your slides are displayed correctly, and so on. Other than that, be sure to have backups in case something happens. You can store your presentation on the cloud and on a thumb drive, have extra batteries, and anything else you think you may need in case there’s an issue with the equipment.

In any case, you need to know your presentation well enough so you could present it even if there’s some sort of failure. I was once in a conference where a researcher was speaking, and his laptop crashed during the presentation. He continued speaking as if nothing happened, while his laptop took 5 minutes to get back to the same state as before. This kept the audience engaged, while still keeping the time limit for each speaker.

Another very important benefit of getting to the venue early is that it allows you to engage in conversation with the people who work there and with people from the audience. Not only is this going to reduce your stress levels and build your confidence in public speaking just moments before your presentation, engaging with people from the audience before the presentation will make them more attentive during the presentation, which will contribute to the success of the presentation.

Tip #4 – Know Your Audience

 

One of the worst things that can happen to you is to lose your audience. You’ll be speaking on stage, but while you do that, you’ll start noticing that the people are not attentive. Maybe they’re looking at their phones, working on their laptops, talking to each other, or even leaving. This is definitely not a confidence builder, I’ll tell you that.

If you want to know how to build confidence in public speaking successfully, you need to pay attention to who your crowd is, what they’re looking for, and what terminology and ideas they relate to. One of the biggest mistakes people do is to use the exact same presentation when they talk to university professors and when they talk to people who just want to be entertained by popular science. This doesn’t work.

Find out who the crowd is composed of while you’re still building/adapting your presentation. Make sure your presentation is tailored to your crowd. Try to get into their mind beforehand to understand what interests them and why they came to listen to you in the first place. Use words and visual aids that they understand and can relate to, and don’t be afraid to change things on the fly if you see you’re losing the crowd.

In short, engage and captivate your audience.

Tip #5 – Practice Conversations

 

If you want to understand how to build confidence in public speaking, keep in mind that a good speech is very much like good story-telling. If you have issues with telling exciting stories to people you’ve never met before, or maybe even to your friends, then it’s going to be hard for you to excite the audience.

In order to get more comfortable talking to people and keeping them captivated, you need to start talking to people. Makes sense, right? Just start engaging in conversation with random people no matter where you are. Pay attention to what makes them fascinated and what makes them bored. Feel comfortable talking to just random people about anything at all. This will increase your confidence in talking to people in general, which will help build your confidence in public speaking.

How to Build Confidence in Public Speaking - Group Talking on Grass

Summary

 

We discussed how to build confidence in public speaking and gave the following 5 tips:

  1. Know the material well
  2. Present to a small group
  3. Get there early
  4. Know your audience
  5. Practice conversations

The last tip is very important as it allows you to build your confidence in public speaking even when you have no scheduled public speech. It’s important to keep on engaging in conversation with random people all the time, to make you feel confident in talking to people, and help you understand better what people enjoy listening to, and what they don’t.

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