15 Effective Public Speaking Tips to Boost Your Confidence
Not everyone is born a great speaker — in fact, the majority of people need public speaking tips to overcome stage jitters. I enjoy giving talks and speaking on stages, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous. Aside from practicing, I’ve picked up several habits to keep my nerves at bay. Let me share with you my effective tips for public speaking to give your confidence a boost. Read on to learn more!
Public Speaking Tips and Tricks to Remember
In this article:
- Prepare and Practice
- Create Contingency Plans
- Give Yourself a Pep Talk
- Give Value to Your Audience and Inspire Action
- Don’t Make Excuses or Apologize
- Captivate Your Audience’s Attention
- Make Eye Contact and Smile
- Speak to Be Understood
- Focus on Your Allies
- Don’t Be Afraid of Questions
- Thank the Audience
- Get Honest Feedback
- Dress to Impress
- Know Your Cues and Keywords
- Be Yourself
1. Prepare and Practice
These are the two most basic public speaking tips you need to follow when you have a speaking engagement. One of the best ways to shake off your public speaking anxiety is to ensure you’re well prepared.
Once you know what your topic or the event’s theme is, create bullet points for your presentation. Research pertinent information and draw out relevant insights from your own experiences. Add in your life story to increase your authority and make your message more genuine.
When you have your material ready, practice how you’ll talk about it. If it’ll help you, record a video of yourself while rehearsing. This way, you can check your tone of voice, timing, and review your mannerisms. Take note of what you need to improve on, especially your use of filler words and gestures.
Read Also: Body Language Tips for Presentations
And of course, always make sure everything is ready before you step onstage. Check everything you need for your talk before the event begins. That includes your presentation, the sound system, the lights, and other equipment you’ll be using.
2. Create Contingency Plans
As part of your preparation, you must come up with contingency plans for the “What ifs” that make you anxious. I learned this the hard way after an embarrassing experience I had at one of my seminars.
You can’t prepare for everything, but it’s good to have a backup plan for common public speaking mishaps. These usually involve technical difficulties, rude audience members, or unresponsive audience members. Having a strategy for unexpected situations during your presentation can increase your self-confidence.
3. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Assertiveness doesn’t hurt; avoid negative self-talk! Visualize yourself at the end of your talk, with a satisfied audience applauding you. Be excited rather than nervous by claiming your success. Though signs of nervousness may show, think of them as signs of excitement instead.
4. Give Value to Your Audience and Inspire Action
Are you struggling to come up with the direction of your message? Remember the two elements that will make it effective — value and action. You must give your audience something to take away and ponder on. More than inspiring them, you must move them to act on your message. Give them practical main points, so they know how they can apply what they learn from you.
If you’re in the sales business like me, it’s important you know how to inspire action from the stage. This is essential for you to be able to sell your products.
Your audience is more likely to respond to you in a favorable way when they sense you’re there to serve. Even if selling is part of your purpose, you can still focus on what your audience can gain from it.
In turn, knowing the value of your content will make you more confident to share it.
5. Don’t Make Excuses or Apologize
A common mistake speakers do is to make excuses or apologize before beginning their talk. Not only is this detrimental to your confidence, it also lets your audience know you’re not well-prepared. So, it becomes easier for them to tune you out, and that will cost you the attention you need from your audience.
Your audience will not cut you some slack, even if you start off with a disclaimer. Yet, it will surprise you how they can overlook your nervousness when they see your determination to deliver your message.
6. Captivate Your Audience’s Attention
My next public speaking tips might seem counter-intuitive. But once you walk out onstage, you don’t have to immediately start talking. Take a few seconds to collect yourself. Find your place, take a deep breath, and then begin your speech. This might come as a challenge when you’re anxious. But, you need to master yourself before you can command your audience’s attention.
Another way to start strong is by opening with a “hook.” This can be a funny or interesting story, a relevant quote, or a surprising statistic. No matter what it is, it must make your audience more inclined to listen to what you have to say. For this, having a personal connection to your topic can come in handy.
I have also struggled with going into autopilot whenever I conduct my seminars. You run this risk either because you know your material so well, or you’re overthinking. Always keep yourself in check. If you feel your connection with your audience is slipping away, find a way to bring your energy back.
7. Make Eye Contact and Smile
A great way to make your talk more natural is to hold eye contact with individual audience members. Personally, I like connecting with my audience this way. It makes me feel I’m conversing with them, and not speaking to them. It’s an opportunity to build connections with specific audience members without leaving out the rest of my audience.
Another one of my public speaking tips is this: be mindful of your facial expressions. This is very important when you’re speaking in public.
And when you’re onstage, don’t forget to smile. Smiling at your audience and the people who are with you onstage can ease any tension. It also gives off the impression that you’re approachable and interested in a genuine way.
8. Speak to Be Understood
Having jitters when speaking in public is actually normal. Unfortunately, this can also cause you to talk fast in the hope of speeding up your time onstage. Remember, there’s no need to rush your talk. Your goal is for your audience to understand you, so they can gain value and take action afterward.
To avoid rushing, train yourself to speak slower than usual. Not only will this improve the clarity of your speech, it will also make your audience hang on to your every word. When I encounter disruptive audience members, I make significant pauses to bring their attention back to me. It also gives me time to gather my thoughts and compose myself.
Also, I make sure I drive my message home by drawing the audience’s attention to my key points. Then, I recap these points during my conclusion as well.
9. Focus on Your Allies
Audience members who visibly agree with you are great confidence boosters. You can focus on them more instead of trying to convince those who don’t agree with you or ignore you. Identify your allies by looking for individuals who interact with you in a positive way during the presentation.
10. Don’t Be Afraid of Questions
Some public speakers dislike answering questions in the middle of their presentation. That must not be the case. You can actually take it as a compliment when your audience asks you questions during your talk. It means they’re listening!
Don’t put off answering questions. If I’m asked a question, which I will address in the upcoming parts of my presentation, I go ahead and skip to that part. This is why it’s important to know your content front and back. Questions are opportunities to interact with your audience. Putting them off might cause your audience to disengage from you.
Confident speakers are unafraid to address questions, and they also practice the courtesy of repeating the audience’s question before answering. This is for the benefit of other audience members who might not have heard the question. Also, it lets them clarify if the question was correctly understood.
11. Thank the Audience
This is practiced not only to be polite but also to express genuine appreciation. The audience gave you their time. They listened to you, interacted with you, and gave you their applause — those are things to be thankful for. So, don’t forget to thank your audience for their questions and when you end your presentation.
Fear of Public Speaking Tips: How to Deal with Stage Fright
Being nervous before your speaking engagement is normal. But there are also more dramatic cases wherein you’re already dealing with stage fright. Here are some public speaking tips to address that fear:
12. Get Honest Feedback
Find trustworthy people who will give you their honest opinion. Practice your presentation in front of them and ask them to evaluate you. If they’re also skilled public speakers, you can learn from them through coaching.
13. Dress to Impress
Now, let’s be clear. When I say dress to impress, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a suit. But, making sure you look presentable will give you a boost of confidence. When you look smart, you feel smart.
Your look must always be appropriate for the occasion. This will establish your authority and build up your self-assurance.
14. Know Your Cues and Keywords
If you’re afraid of forgetting what you’re going to say next, have cues and keywords to remind you of your message. You can even put these keywords on your slides to help you remember your next topic. They can be in the form of an acronym or short phrases that convey the gist of your topic.
15. Be Yourself
Finally, you must never try to be somebody else in front of other people. Your audience can forgive you for your initial nervousness, but they will surely be turned off when they sense your insincerity. The next time you get invited to a public speaking engagement, prepare for it, and be yourself.
Finding The Motivation For Public Speaking
Of course, you won’t be an awesome public speaker right off the bat. Unless you’ve had tons of experience as say, a Toastmaster, you won’t develop the skills you need overnight. But as many people have said, you need 10,000 hours before you can start calling yourself an excellent public speaker.
The first steps are always the hardest. It takes a lot to become a motivational speaker. For example, you must have a singular message you hold inside you all the time. This is your compass; your moral guide, so to speak. This one message must resonate in all your talks. This message should drive everything you write and talk about.
Your Brand As A Motivational Speaker
The first factor to consider in how to become a public speaker is knowing what your personal branding is. As I mentioned, having a singular message is your first key. This keeps things uniform. The subjects you talk about can branch – but never deviate – from your message. Use your message as a guide on how you can build your own brand.
Why is it so important to have your own brand? The key to effective public speaking is uniformity. A lot of people talk about different things, but each of them has a single message that they always pull from. Without these messages, they will never be recognized as good public speakers. If you need public speaking tips, here’s the most important one: stick to your brand.
Looking for more public speaking tips to improve your game? Check out this video from my Ted McGrath YouTube channel to discover 4 steps to win at public speaking:
The bottom line of all the public speaking tips we discussed is practice! Grab every opportunity possible to gain public speaking experience. Don’t shy away from invitations to share your message with everyone. Through continuous practice, you’ll be able to improve your public speaking skills.
Do you have any public speaking tips I didn’t cover? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 30, 2018. It has been edited for accuracy and relevancy.