Top Tips for Confidence-Building in Public Speaking


Most of the people I work with express a degree of concern over how nervous they get when delivering presentations. In our training sessions we talk about overcoming nerves - the most important point being to realise that being nervous does not automatically mean you will speak badly; it simply means you care. Here are some additional ideas and strategies to reduce the fear factor. I've experimented with them and found them very helpful! 

1. Watch 
Amy Cuddy's talk on Body Language - some amazing ideas on how to "act" confident and trick your body into calming down. 

2. Move into "left brain" activity to override your emotional right-brain response of fear. You can do this by doing some mental arithmetic. I was once approached just before a contest with a barrage of questions around a problem (not an arithmetic one!) which meant I had to focus on someone else and think hard about how to solve the issue. I realised that I had been done a great favour - I forgot to be nervous because my mind was otherwise occupied! 

3. Do this short meditation activity: imagine your life drawn out as a line. Hover above your lifeline and go forward to the future. Go to the point where the presentation is over and look back at it. Notice how you feel. Go even further forward into the future and think about the other things you have planned. Look back at the presentation and see how small it is. Smile back at how nervous you were and realise that now it wasn't such a big deal. 

4. Use Aaron Beck's 
AWARE model which also makes you move into left-brain activity and think about your feelings rather than just feeling them! This model is used for anxiety - I think it's a useful one even for a mild case of nerves. 

5. Work the audience before your presentation. I always feel if I walk around and have a chat to a few people before I speak, then at least I've connected with some people. That way I feel like I have some friends in the audience and I feel more relaxed. Those people are more likely to smile at you and respond positively earlier in your presentation. 

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