The first time I did a keynote speech at a major conference I was terrified. No one knew except my husband, who booked the day off, bless his heart, and came with me for moral support. As I got up to walk on stage my legs froze for a second, then when I was up there, my palms were sweating as I held on to the podium for dear life. Finally I looked out at the hundreds of people staring back at me, took a deep breath and started talking. I got through that first speech; in fact that was my first standing ovation. It filled me with confidence and a sense of accomplishment and every time I spoke my confidence grew a little more. Here are five tips to help you build your speaking confidence:
This is the first thing I came to realize that day. My confidence to speak was something I felt deep in my heart. No one can give you confidence or self-esteem; it must come from within you.
Confidence is something that when properly nourished with constructive feedback and positive action grows like a healthy plant and helps your self-esteem blossom.
Many people when they lack confidence shy away from speaking opportunities or give them to someone else. Promise yourself from today, after reading this article that you will embrace every opportunity to speak. Maybe you don’t like being in the spotlight, but your new promotion or small business requires it. The more you speak and capture the spotlight, the more your confidence will grow.
One of the only ways to learn in public speaking is by making mistakes and allowing yourself to fail. I can tell you from personal experience, that failure is much better teacher than success. Success often makes people complacent, whereas failure makes them try harder.
Just like athletics and sports, public speaking is a skill that requires training, coaching and rigorous practice. I practice my speeches for hours at a time. You could practice with a coach or with your family or staff or even by yourself. The point is to put in the time and effort to be the best speaker you are cable of being. As the character Harvey Specter says in one of our favourite TV shows Suits “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
We all have that negative inner voice that tells us we are going to fail. I have it too. It’s the sound of fear. It tells you “Don’t go up there, you’ll look like a fool” or “You’ll freeze on stage and everyone will laugh at you”. Remember that you are in control of your inner voice, not the other way around. Do not let fear win.
Have the courage to silence your inner critic and take the leap of faith knowing that you will succeed or learn, either way it’s worth it.
I look back at that first speech, which was about seven years ago now, with tremendous pride. It allowed me to have the confidence to take on bigger projects in the future and expand the boundaries of my comfort zone. We all have a comfort zone that is defined by our own fears and self imposed limitations.
But what if I told you couldn’t fail? What would you do then? What risks would you take? Your speaking potential is truly limitless; you only have to take that first step.
Narges Nirumvala, is the CEO of ExecutiveSpeak Coaching International. She is one of Canada’s leading executive speech coaches, a presentation skills trainer, an award winning entrepreneur, international keynote speaker, author of the Amazon bestselling book “Capture the Spotlight” and a humanitarian.