Practice confidence

By Kendall Martin

One of the hardest parts of public speaking for some people is the “social” aspect of the interaction. Even if you don’t suffer from social anxiety, facing a large meeting room full of co-workers or strangers can be overwhelming. All eyes are on you, and the pressure to perform perfectly can be stressful.

Luckily, simply practicing interactions with co-workers and strangers can help eliminate much of that pressure and allow you to relax and be yourself. Practice these exercises and be more comfortable the next time you speak publicly:

  • Speak first. Start a conversation with the employee behind the register at the grocery store or mall. Initiate the small talk and focus on engaging the other person.
  • Network. At work functions or parties, commit to exiting your comfort zone. Walk up to a group of people whom you don’t know and introduce yourself. The practice of exerting confidence—even when you feel none—will help you overcome a major public speaking hurdle.
  • Stop hiding. It’s easy to hide behind email rather than engage face to face or over the phone, but in the end, you are losing out. Make a point of speaking in person to a co-worker with whom you normally would communicate only via email. By removing the ability to carefully think through each word you type, you are forced to practice thinking on your feet, which can help alleviate the stress of presenting publicly.
  • Make eye contact. At work or on the street, smile and make eye contact with each person you pass. That practice of confidence is key to overcoming public speaking fear.

What tips do you have for overcoming the fear of speaking publicly?

Need more help dealing with confidence issues? Check out No Sweat! Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking, a multimedia training tool which provides plenty more tips for conquering speech anxiety!

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6 responses to “Practice confidence

  1. Great points!

    A few I might add:

    – When you have purpose and passion fear is less of an obsticle.

    – People respect people that take risks and are willing to do things they can’t. Most people can’t . . . excuse me . . . most people will never allow themselves to take a risk like public speaking.

    – You have to have an element of “I don’t care”. and
    – If I do bomb… what’s the worst that will happen?

    I love this quote by Spencer Johnson:

    “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

    Good stuff!

    • Thanks, Jason! All great additions. Your second point rings especially true. Many novice speakers assume that the audience is just waiting to rip them to shreds, but it’s actually the opposite. Most audience members are automatically impressed at a speaker’s willingness to put him/herself out there.

  2. Pingback: How Do You Practice Confidence? « Presenter News

  3. Pingback: Taking your face-to-face confidence on stage | Donn King's Corner

  4. The section on leading the conversation is a great tip and Tom at has also commented on the effectiveness of this. I think that if you learn to do this then it really helps you when you are public speaking because you are use to taking the front step!

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