One of the questions I get asked all the time is, “How can I be less nervous when I stand up to present?”
Confidence in public speaking continues to be a problem for lots of people. The spotlight is fully on you, everyone is listening, and we all want to do well. It is not easy.
But here are a few things that will help build your confidence, the first two of which will not surprise you in any way.
First, you have to be prepared. Take the most experienced confident speaker and ask them to stand up and speak about something they know nothing about and have not prepared for, and watch how quickly they look pretty ordinary. Preparation means you have planned out your goals, considered who your audience is, and planned out your message. It means you have tried to anticipate their possible objections to your request/recommendation/strategy/product. It means you have thought about the likely questions and planned out some answers. Preparation is mission critical to confidence.
Second, you have to practice. Once your message plan is sorted, and your slides are created, you are not done! Now is the time to practice, out loud.
Third, and finally, stop thinking about this as a speech or a presentation. Presentations tend to make people nervous. But most people are comfortable having conversations. And since most presentations usually include time for Q&A, then it is entirely reasonable to think of this presentation as simply a conversation between you and others in the room.
Thinking of my presentations instead as conversations reduces a great deal of anxiety for me. Conversations never make me nervous.
Preparation, practice, and conversation. Think about those three things and your confidence should go up.
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