Building Confidence as a Speaker

As a speaker coach one of the questions people ask most frequently is how to overcome shyness, nerves and fear to become a confident speaker. This is one of the first things to address because until you are confident speaking it will be difficult to speak effectively. 
There are many techniques for overcoming speaking nerves, but there are three that I have tested personally both on myself and also on people who I have coached. By applying these methods you can not only overcome your fear of speaking, you will also grow to like it so much that you look forward to speaking in front of a large audience.
Find some kind of space where you have to talk to people. There are many jobs, sports and hobbies that you can do entirely alone, and these do not help in any way to build confidence. You are more likely to become comfortable talking to strangers if you have a job or some other space where you speak regularly and often with other people. There are many customer-facing or employee-facing jobs like this and if your regular work doesn't offer any opportunities consider finding some voluntary work where you can have this opportunity. When you talk to strangers just once a week it will always be terrifying; when you talk to people every hour it becomes natural and relaxing. Any interaction will help, even if it is just telling people about the benefits of joining or supporting some non profit-
Look for public speaking opportunities. You could join organizations like Toastmasters which exist primarily to help people acquire speaking skills, but if you already have some experience and just need more practice you could find work or volunteer opportunities where you can or have to speak to groups of people. You will find that you get better results with spaces where you can speak often to smaller groups rather than once a year for a large audience. Pitching a non-profit to potential members, campaigning for some environmental association or presenting local startup events can all be useful ways to get this practice. Repeating the same presentation again and again might sound dull but it gives you both the opportunity to become confident and also to polish the content.
Learn to speak in another language. This is certainly the least intuitive advice, but if you try to speak to individuals and groups of people in a language that you do not know very well this will also boost your confidence when speaking in your own language. When you have been struggling to explain something using a limited vocabulary you will find that speaking a language you know very well suddenly feels very easy. I discovered this first when I learned to speak Italian and that have me more confidence speaking in English. Later the same happened when I learned to speak French and my Italian speaking became more confident. Language learning has this interesting side effect of boosting confidence.
Whatever approach you use, remember that there is no magical cure for shyness or lack of confidence. Ultimately you build confidence simply by building experience. In much the same way that student pilots need to build up hundreds of flying hours before they become confident, a speaker should speak hundreds of hours to acquire a basic level of confidence. The sooner you start the sooner you will build up these hours. If you can remember every time you have spoken you are not speaking enough. Don't wait for opportunities to come to you, reach out proactively to find them.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, interactive workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone at 0046 730 894 475.


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