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What are the ingredients of confident public speaking? How can you become a fearless speaker? The recipe for how to become fearless as a public speaker involves a careful mix of passion for your message plus a large sprinkling of authenticity. Let's get cooking...
When we first start speaking it's natural to ask the question "how can I become more confident at public speaking?" "How can I become fearless as a speaker?" When adrenaline gets into our body when we're nervous it plays havoc with our abilities to act normally. We just want to be good enough, to get through our public speaking without showing the audience our nerves.
Most public speakers stress and struggle about trying to "seem confident" and "look fearless", irrespective of how they're feeling inside. They often fall into the trap of pushing nerves away to show the audience a plastic sheen of confident public speaking. But so long as you're pushing away your fears and nerves, you're acting, rather than connecting with your audience.
Truly powerful public speaking starts not with 100% confident public speaking, but with talking from the heart.
Take Jamie Oliver's TED Talk, for example; not the most confident public speaking ever (he walks around too much, flaps his notes and clearly looks nervous!), but a deeply powerful and deeply moving speech nonetheless. Passion is what we remember about a speaker - not their confidence. Audiences are enthralled by delicious, humble, genuine, and emotional public speaking experiences, so if you really want to move your audience, that's where you need to live as a speakers.
Rather than pushing away your nerves and becoming a robot speaker who's technically "very good" and seems "very confident", I'd like to show you how to become a Fearless speaker, who uses your nervous energy for good, rather than pushing it away.
What is the recipe for confident, fearlessness public speaking?
Being fearless is not about a lack of fear. It's about taking that fear and transforming it into excitement and energy around your message. It's like fire. We can either look at the fire and say "oh, that might burn something, I have to put it out..." in which case we end up with a sad pile of cinders. Or we can stick a barbecue on top of the fire and turn it into something useful for ourselves and our friends.
In a similar way, your fire as a speaker could be used in the right way to inspire your audience. From here you find deeply confident public speaking, rather than the superficial confidence that comes with 'managing' your nerves.
On a practical level, then, how do you develop fearless, confident public speaking?
Psychologists have found that deeply confident public speakers actually see themselves that way in their mental imagery. If your mental imagery is constantly reinforcing your lack of confidence, this is what will show up in your speaking. To unpick your mental imagery, you can do the following:
Create that positive affirmative space by literally seeing yourself presenting with confidence. Think your own inner movie... no subtitles necessary.
The inner critic or 'inner demon' is the negative inner dialogue that can surround your speaking. Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue that diminishes our confidence as a speaker, if we chose to believe it.
So get aware of negative 'thoughts inside the head' and overcome them by:
Confident public speaking is not about putting on an act, but it can help to adopt a stage persona that helps you stretch into the full and fearless parts of your character. This key is that this is you - it's just a fuller version of you unleashed on stage.
To develop a fearless stage persona, ask yourself the following questions:
If this doesn't come easily, give yourself permission to use a persona. Some actors call this "turning the lights on". The lights were there all the time... you just need a spark of electricity.
Mixing up the ingredients...
Memorable speakers have a recipe of certainty and confidence that belongs to them alone, they are the creator of their confident public speaking "dish".
Confident public speaking and fearlessness are not 'given' to us by someone, they are honed through practice and time preparing in the "kitchen of your mind". Confident public speaking means that you have sought out the best recipe, fearlessness and energetic confidence that your message is scrumptious, even though it's not always easy to make.
You have the ability to feel that sense of power and deep confidence that, not only do you believe in your message, but you also have the ability to convert that fear into the exquisitely delicious energy to say whatever is needed. How to become fearless comes from inside of you. From that voice of certainty that shows you the amazing presenter who was there all along. With your chef hat and a cute bit of flour on the tip of your nose, you CAN learn how to become fearless and show your audience the confident public speaking that lives inside... of you. And remember... audiences are HUNGRY. Bon appetit.
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