The fear of public speaking is practically universal. No matter how comfortable someone is, once they get in that spotlight, nearly everyone experiences a moment of jitters just before they speak to a crowd.
In the age of authenticity, you can’t simply pretend you’re confident; you have to truly believe it and convey it from the moment the audience sees you. According to a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members, here are some of the best ways to build up your confidence before you give a speech or presentation. Hint: These tips work in one-on-one settings like job interviews and networking sessions, too!
Q. While people often seem confident when they step up onto a stage to give a presentation, they may have any number of doubts, worries, or fears to contend with. What is your preferred method of exuding confidence during a public speaking engagement, job interview, or networking session?
Their best answers are below:
1. Visualize the Worst-Case Scenario
Negative visualization helps me to keep things in perspective. Before giving a presentation, spend a few minutes thinking about what could go wrong. You could be embarrassed, perhaps lose a sale, or make a bad impression. These are not a big deal. You’ll bounce back. It seems counterintuitive, but visualizing what could go wrong and putting it in perspective gives my confidence a boost. – Vik Patel, Future Hosting
2. Tell a Story, But Not the Whole Story
A mistake many speakers make is that they tell every detail of a story instead of focusing on the essential. To fix this, make sure you have a clear beginning, middle, and end to what you’re sharing. Know what point you’re driving to. This will help you create structure and stay focused with the end in mind. More times than not, less is more. – Antonio Neves, THINQACTION Inc.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
I practice repeatedly until I feel like I have memorized everything I want to say. The continual process of saying and practicing makes it feel more normal for me to do public speaking, which takes away the nerves. – Serenity Gibbons, NAACP
4. Make Them Laugh
I start with a joke. It puts your audience in a good mood and makes you feel like you have command of the crowd, which helps you relax. Seeing people smiling at you puts you at ease and creates a level of trust. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
5. Slow Down
Slowing down is a great way to exude confidence while giving a speech or presentation. Speaking quickly gives off the impression that you want to finish as fast as possible, while speaking slowly and coherently shows the audience that you’re comfortable and in no rush to leave the stage. Remind yourself to take a breath and pause to look around the room, and then practice with a timer. – Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP
6. Warm Up Your Voice
You may not know that your voice is actually a muscle! Before speaking publicly, it’s important to warm up! Start by stretching and massaging your neck, jaw, and face muscles. Next, do breathing exercises. Finally, do voice exercises! I would recommend making siren noises, starting on the low pitch and going high pitch and back down. Then, do tongue twisters, first slowly, then faster. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve
7. Nail Down Your Talking Points
I do a fair amount of speaking throughout the year, and so the best way I prepare myself is by developing five to seven talking points on the topic. I’ll write them down on notecards and use them during the speech, talk, or lecture as a reinforcement method. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC
8. Remind Yourself That It’s Just a Conversation
Confidence comes from within, and trying to fake it can appear inauthentic. That’s why, if I feel nervous or uncertain about an upcoming experience, I have a conversation with myself first. There are very few experiences that will change the world and the ones that have started as a conversation. I remind myself, this is just a conversation, then I start it with a smile that comes from within. – Joey Kercher, Air Fresh Marketing
9. Just Be Yourself
When you’re authentic and transparent, you have nothing to fear or hide. You can be confident about everything that you’re saying because you know that you are truly telling the truth. This will show your true characteristics and charisma that’ll attract the audience’s attention. With your practice, body language, sharp look, and authenticity, everything else will fall into place. – Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia
10. Remember That You Were Chosen to Speak for a Reason
You’ve already won. Think about it: They already believe your information is worthy. They set aside a time, stage, and got you an audience. Just do your part. Prepare well, capitalize on your strengths — charisma, number crunching, inspiring story, etc. Must-do advice: Breathe, smile, and confidently bring your strengths to the stage. Command the audience silently. Then, be you. You were chosen. – Codie Sanchez, www.CodieSanchez.com
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.