What do people most frequently mention as their greatest fear? Public speaking in front of an audience! (I know this all too well, having botched my wedding vows and the two lines in my 8th grade play!) The good news is this fear (and insecurity) can be overcome with proper training and experience. It’s a leadership and life skill that deserves high priority in every school and in every grade.
One reason we hesitate to “put ourselves out there” in front of a crowd is our fear of saying something stupid or our mind going blank just in time for the punch line. However, speaking comfortably in front of groups is a skill that can be learned—I’m proof of that. Developing this skill helps immensely in life, especially in your career where so many positions and opportunities demand excellent communication.
Here are some helpful communication confidence boosters:
- Lower your expectations of yourself—you don’t need an orator’s eloquence to deliver a successful presentation. What’s important is that you are clear, interesting, enthusiastic, and relevant to your audience.
- Take comfort that you usually know more about your subject than your audience and only you know exactly what you want to say. If you make a small mistake, it is very likely that no one will notice.
- Recognize that most audiences want you to succeed and are on your side. They are not judging you.
- Avoid excessive detail. Conciseness is your friend.
- Tell stories. Make your presentation personal.
- Show lots of enthusiasm and expression. This means smiling and being congenial, as well as aware of your body language. How are you standing? Are you gesturing with your hands? Gestures can aid in your presentation, but can also be distracting if overdone.
- Try to have fun with it! And, recognize that a little nervousness is okay—they won’t even notice it!
If all else fails, you can always try the “imagine your audience in their underwear” trick. Frankly, that never worked for me, but it might for you.
I’m infinitely better in front of groups than I used to be since adopting the above strategies, and it’s opened up so many opportunities. If I can, you and the young people in your life can, too!
Are you comfortable speaking in front of groups? What hurdles do you need to overcome to build your confidence? What personal tips have helped you in your public speaking?