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Ways to boost your public speaking confidence

Posted on 21 June 2023

Ways to boost your public speaking confidence

6-minute read

Do you ever find yourself enjoying the experience of listening to an exceptional speaker, completely engrossed in their every word, and perhaps even yearning to possess the ability to captivate an audience like they do?

While I don't claim to be an expert in rhetoric, I have gathered a set of fundamental principles over the years that can assist you in becoming a more effective and self-assured speaker. Some of these principles can be applied to structured presentations, such as conference talks, while others will bolster your confidence during more spontaneous conversations, like interviews.

Each successful presentation, speech, or interview will contribute to your growth in public speaking confidence. You are welcome to revisit these core principles whenever you feel the need for guidance or a refresher. Let's explore them together.

 

Say yes

We have found over the years the best way to maximise our opportunity to grow our public speaking confidence is to simply say yes. If you are invited to speak at an event (internal or external) or if they call upon volunteers, then grab the opportunity.

Obviously only say yes to job interviewers if you are interested and looking, time is a precious resource, and you can grow your public speaking confidence in other ways without sitting in a thousand job interviews.

 

Understand the impression you create

In any talk you give off verbal and non-verbal signals, this builds up a certain impression about you. It is often the non-verbal cues that create the lasting impression and no surprising they are also the most difficult to notice in yourself.

Gather a baseline understanding of the type of impression you currently give off, to do this we have learned two very good tactics.

1)      Deliver your full end-to-end presentation or structured component of your interview (code review talk, behavioural questions etc). as if it were the real thing but have someone you trust watch and offer feedback.

2)      At the exact same time record your session and offer your own feedback.

Doing this will help you realise how others see you and how you see yourself in the same situation. You might find how you perceived yourself, what you say and how you say it to be very different from others.

Getting this baseline impression will help you adjust over time to the impression you wish to create.

 

Redefine your style

Everyone has their own style, but your style is often built upon those of others from which you draw inspiration. Your speaking style is no different.

Watch other speakers which you are fond of and consider their styles. Are they the teacher, the coach, the storyteller? Contemplate how your technique correlates to those you are drawn to, are you naturally close to any of them than others? If so, maybe alter small adjustments to help redefine your style to that which you want.

Focus on your natural style more than having a complete change, it is possible but much harder than going with your instinctive approach.

 

Plan

In our opinion, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will be during the talk. If you know the setting (informal / formal), if you have researched ahead of time the audience (typical age range and interest for larger talks / interviewers etc.) and have crafted something in which you have studied and practiced, all that is left is to deliver it in front of a new set of people.

Of course, that is the challenging bit for many, yet you have everything you need ahead of time so take a breather and convey what you know.

 

Set a clear purpose

This is where the art of rhetoric truly comes into play. Be it a talk or an interview, there will be elements of informing but also elements of persuasion. How do you want your audience to feel, think or act after your interaction. How can you drive change in their own mind about your topic or experience.

Understanding ahead of time what the purpose is will help you craft a more influential talk, raising your confidence with each successful interaction.

 

Structure your talk

An obvious principle but one that is often forgotten. Your talk should be easy to follow, easy to remember and tied together with a nice flow.

A simple start, middle and end structure is highly effective for conference talks and even behavioural-based interview questions.

Build the content around a logical flow that is tied to the defined purpose.

If you are in an interview setting, you can structure the whole meeting but you can structure pre-defined answers to behavioural, situational and often technical questions if prepared in advance.

 

Connect with the audience

Your audience, no matter the size are real people. Your words will only take you so far, but linking back to what impression you give off, your non-verbal communication will carry you the rest of the way.

Practice eye contact, check they are understanding your message through head nods, ensure your body language and gestures are supporting your purpose.

If you feel the audience is not connecting with you, your message or your talk perhaps pivot your talk slightly to try and open them up.

 

Make an impactful finish

End with impact. Leave the audience with a clear takeaway that will likely have them talking about your content and you after the talk has ended.

This is really important for interview-based talks, where you cannot create such an impact as you can in a controlled talk, consider the final questions you ask the team in order to stand out and make them notice.

 

Hone your craft

Effective communication is a vital skill in today’s modern workforce. No matter the job you have, communication is a pillar of it. Public speaking is not just about delivering talks to a conference, as you can see it can be used in everyday life, job interviews, team meetings and so much more.

This craft requires lifelong learning.

Constantly look for feedback, ways to improve and seek advice from those around you who you admire within this topic.

Never stop learning how to communicate, it will only open up more doors over time.

 

With that, good luck in your next public speaking event, whatever that may be.

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