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‹ View all articles 29th November 2012

Confident public speaking: How to become fearless

How to Inspire

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?

CONFIDENT PUBLIC SPEAKING INGREDIENT 1: Positive mental imagery

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:

  1. Picture yourself speaking. What senses are stimulated? What do you see or smell or hear? Do you feel confident or nervous? What in your mental imagery makes it that way?
  2. Now play with this mental image, picture yourself looking out from your body. Change the colors in the room and see what happens to your confidence. How do you see your audience? Sitting or standing? Are they close or far? Now adjust the audience in your mental image until you feel powerful.
  3. Are there any "scary" people in the audience? Snipers or unreceptive audience members? Picture them with a clown nose and see if it makes you feel more confident. Do it. Yes it seems silly but do it anyway.
  4. Do you hear laughter or silence? Try both and see which reaction "feels" confident.
  5. Is your body heavy or light? Is the floor soft and inviting or hard and firm beneath your feet? Usually a firm grounding with the floor in your mental imagery will make you feel more confident
  6. Practice these shifts in your mental image every time you think about giving your speech - this will help you to rewire the nervous habits of your brain to access your confidence (Especially the clown nose part!)

CONFIDENT PUBLIC SPEAKING INGREDIENT 2: Visualizing public speaking success.

Create that positive affirmative space by literally seeing yourself presenting with confidence. Think your own inner movie... no subtitles necessary.

  • Close your eyes and imagine yourself breathing in confidence as a color and exhaling fear as a different color. Breathe in and out. Now imagine yourself walking confidently into a room.
  • See all around you. Notice the look and feel of the place. Enjoy the audience.
  • As you begin speaking, suddenly you're in the mind of the audience, amazed at how well informed and entertaining you are. Go through your entire speech this way.
  • As you begin to conclude your speech, go back to your own self and revel in your powerful and confident public speaking. Look at your smiling audience who are thanking you for your words.
  • This is your public speaking power. Take it with you out of your visualization. Remember this feeling in the place where your confidence lives. In your "gut" or stomach or your heart.

CONFIDENT PUBLIC SPEAKING INGREDIENT 3: Demon Slaying.

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:

  • Giving it space to 'burn itself out' - sometimes when you listen to an inner demon you just know it isn't true.
  • Show it all the reasons why you should be confident by focusing on all your past successes in communication. Even if you're not an experienced speaker, look at all the other communication scenarios where you have succeeded.
  • Make friends with the demon. After all, it just wants you to be safe, so it's really your friend. But, like any other friend who's trying to hold you back, if you give it a bit of love and patience, it will eventually calm down.
  • If the demon is still not on your side, try banishing it. Imagine pushing it off a cliff, throwing it in the trash, or sending it up on a space craft. You don't need him any more.

CONFIDENT PUBLIC SPEAKING INGREDIENT 4: A juicy stage persona.

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:

  • What are your best qualities as a speaker? (Don't be shy now!) Are you cool or compassionate or gruff and focused? Are you a powerful peacemaker or a wizard of change?
  • What might your 'trademark' features be? What are your hands doing? Are you slow and calculated with your movements or energetic and moving about the stage? Develop these internal traits and utilize them to make confident public speaking second nature.
  • What's a name you could give your stage persona? Names are fun. Play with this. (I used to be 'Energizer Bunny' and now I'm, well, 'Ginger')

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.

 

Confident public speaking through Ginger Public Speaking. If you want to become more confident at public speaking, why not join one of our public speaking courses? You're most welcome!

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