FACT: You can no longer avoid public speaking.
FACT: Speaking is a skill that can be learned.
FACT: Fear is a choice.
If you're ready to conquer fear of public speaking (and even if you're not) here are 3 strategies that will help you to appear confident:
Manage your Mind. Manage your Body. Manage your Message
Fear is mental so the first step is to Manage your Mind. Most people invite fear by accepting a negative story. They see themselves as nervous and view the audience as the enemy. Visualization will allow you to change the picture. Create the desired picture in your mind . What do you want to see, hear, and feel?
Example: Close your eyes. See yourself in your mind's eye as you confidently approach the audience. See the audience smiling and nodding with approval. Hear the clarity and conviction in your voice as you begin your presentation. Hear the thunderous applause. See yourself standing tall and walking off with confidence. Feel what it's like to know you gave a knockout presentation.
Once you're visualized the outcome you desire, give voice to your picture. Choose to say positive affirmations out loud: "I am confident", "I am dynamic", "I know my subject". The subconscious mind is literal. It believes every word you say. Let your words have power. You get to choose.
With the right mindset you can Manage your Body. Assume the body language of confidence. Before the presentation, stand with your hands on your hips like Superman or Superwoman. Hold the position for two minutes. This is based on research from Amy Cuddy from Harvard University. You'll gain a surge of testosterone, the courage hormone. Stand tall with your shoulders back and feet shoulder width apart. This is a grounding position which will make you look and feel confident.
Tune in to the audience. Visually divide the room into sections and look at one individual in each section for one or two sentences. This creates a one-on-one connection which is more intimate and less nerve racking. Take in some deep belly breaths to center your body and slow down a racing heart. Next, find the acupressure point on your third finger between the knuckle and base of the hand. This will reduce anxiety. (From the book, Success Under Stress by Sharon Melnick).
The last strategy is to Manage your Message. You can know all the mind-body techniques but without a clear, compelling message, you'll lose focus. To create clarity, start with the end in mind. Write your intended outcome for the presentation and create bullet points to keep you conversational. Practice the Rule of Three. Create 3 agenda items, 3 main points, 3 benefits. Then, tell your story. The Rule of Three will help you to be concise and storytelling will foster a connection with the audience. You'll become more present and you'll lose your self consciousness.
You can conquer fear of public speaking. Choose confidence and practice these 3 strategies: Manage your Mind, Manage your Body and Manage your Message. Now go out and give a Knockout Presentation.
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