A lot of us deal with stage fright when it comes to getting up in front of people. It’s not just introverts that deal with this, it’s anyone that can talk in a group, anyone that can converse with one or two people at a time in a normal setting, in fact it’s just anyone at all that can be affected. Talking amidst a group of people or addressing a group of people while engaging in conversation is different than presenting a topic that people are going to be inclined to listen to.
Standing in front of a group of people that are giving you their rapt attention, or should be at least, is unnerving in some ways as the expectation is that your delivery will be accurate, adequate, and most of all confident. However the reality is that many of us will stutter, stumble, fumble with words, and repeat certain nonsense words such as “uh, um, like, so” and many others that are used as fillers in those moments when our confidence begins to wane or we’ve run out of things to say. The key to being confident in front of people is not just one thing, as those factors that contribute to being confident need to be addressed on a singular basis if you’re going to find a way to deliver a speech, address, or any other public speaking assignment that is required.
Here are just a few ways you can gain and exude confidence in front of people.
Don’t slouch, it indicates that you are less than confident and don’t care.
If you don’t really care about what you’re saying then why should the people that are listening? Slouching is bad for your posture and can weaken the back, but it can also convey a sign of uncertainty and tell people that you don’t know enough about what you’re talking about when it comes to the subject at hand. In many ways slouching is a sign of weakness since it means you’re trying to minimize your appearance so people will look past you. That doesn’t work as well when you’re standing in front of them, and it will backfire on you.
Stand up straight as you can, use that spine as much as is possible, and square those shoulders so that people can at least believe that you have the kind of confidence that is needed to take on anything.
Slow down in your delivery and take your time getting to the point.
Don’t stretch it out all day, people do want a speech to end eventually, but don’t rush through what you’re saying so that you can get through it. This is another sign that allows people to think that you really aren’t confident in your ability to present the material at hand and are just looking forward to getting through it. Those that practice any speech and are simply trying to move from point A to point B with as much haste as possible are typically those that don’t want to answer questions and aren’t looking to do anything but complete a requirement that has been foisted upon them, and it shows.
Have the courage to go over a couple of points so that people understand them, answer questions that might arise either during or after your speech, and people will come to think that you are far more confident for it. There’s no point in rushing through a speech and then stepping down without feedback, as people won’t learn much and will likely believe that you just wasted their time.
If people are staring at you, stare right back.
Don’t fixate on one person, pan your gaze around the room and be bold enough to meet people’s eyes. Many will look away or try to focus on other things in the room. Some will meet your stare and there’s nothing wrong with this. They’re paying attention, they want to hear what you have to say. You don’t need to engage in a staring contest, but you don’t need to look at the top of everyone’s head either in an effort to avoid meeting anyone’s eyes. That’s a sure sign that you aren’t confident enough to look them in the eye, and it’s not an admirable trait.
Remember that some of those listening to your words might be just as nervous as you are and are looking for affirmation that you have the confidence to speak in front of them. Some might even respect you a little more for this.
Get out of your own head.
If you don’t know what this means it’s simply a way to say ‘stop thinking’. That might sound like it wouldn’t work when having to give a speech or presentation, but it works wonders to be honest. The more you think during a presentation the more distracted you’re going to be. Let go of your own conscious self for the duration of the speech and let things flow as they need to. This means forget about your insecurities, your problems, and anything else going on in your day. Live in that moment and let it go the way it needs to without any outside interference from that pesky consciousness of yours.
You might surprise yourself.