Becoming a more confident speaker
I've never met a successful speaker who didn't admit battling self-doubt at some point in their speaking career. Some have been brave enough to share with me they still struggle with it at times. But watching them speak you'd never know.
Not only have I felt that same way, I still do at times. In fact, we ALL battle self-doubt in some way - I call it "Imposter Syndrome."
Imposter Syndrome comes from that little voice inside our head we can't keep quiet. Often times, that voice isn't very nice and it says things we don't like. The result is that it makes us feel we are not good enough. And when we don't feel we can do something, we're less resilient and more likely to quit.
I learned about Imposter Syndrome in Higher Education when I was earning my Doctorate degree. My advisor shared the term with our class because she knew that if we didn't feel confident about being able to finish our Doctorate degree, we wouldn't. So by helping us expect those feelings and learn how to deal with them upfront, she helped us battle through those times of doubt.
"Just because we have an inside voice, it doesn't mean we have to agree with it."
... when I share this above quote in my keynote presentations, I acknowledge to my audience of complete strangers that I struggle with self-doubt at times. I become vulnerable and transparent with them. If the spirit moves me, I usually continue by sharing how I battled depression when I was younger, my diagnosis with an eating disorder, and even being arrested.
"My thinking was always the problem until I discovered how to make it the solution."
How I dealt with my depression back then is similar to how I also dealt with my Imposter Syndrome as a Doctoral student, as a Dean of Students and even as a professional speaker. I learned how to expect the feelings of doubt, how to acknowledge them when they arrived, and how to apply strategies to move through them. I still do.
So do even successful speakers still get nervous and battle confidence issues? Absolutely. And if they say they don't, they are lying.
Whether you are new to speaking or you are hungry earn more paid speaking gigs and take your speaking to the next level, you can immediately battle through times of self-doubt and improve your speaking confidence with these tips below.
And it's extremely important for you to know how to do this because confidence in front of an audience is imperative. High confidence leads to presence and "comfortability" which leads to audience connection.
Speaking with confidence—like any skill—takes time and practice and knowledge to develop. But the reward is well worth the effort. In fact, the success of your speaking relies on you knowing how to speak with confidence. The more confident you appear, the more likely they will believe in what you are sharing.
1. Nerves are nothing but energy. Know you can control them.
I always get "excited" before a speech of any size. I just re-frame the extra energy in my head (and chest at times!) as excitement that I can control though. This is also why I have a pre-event ritual to keep me focused and level. Before a keynote, I prefer to walk to the back of the room and just observe people walking in. The energy in the room helps me align my own energy to them - although I do want mine to be higher. I then just remind myself that people in that room are going to be inspired and helped by what I have to share with them. This helps remind me "why" I'm there to speak - to help them.
2. Ask yourself, "Why am I nervous?" or "Why am I feeling this self-doubt?"
The solution to feeling self-doubt or nervousness usually lies in this answer to either of these questions above. You see, I rarely feel nervous about a speech I know I've prepared well for. On the flip-side, it's the speech I know I could have prepared MORE for which is the one I'm feeling more nervous "excitement' about. This doesn't happen much any longer, because I follow my customization process for every speech that ensures I prepare sufficiently. So the key here is to prepare for a speech well and feeling ready to deliver it. The more you practice, the more confident you will be. And it will show. Click here to download my "Speech Preparation Checklist!"
3. Focus on the problem you are helping your audience solve.
Speakers are the messengers. The presentation is their product. And it's the product that helps people solve problems. It took me a while to learn this, but when I fully came to terms with the fact that my speech had to be outlined in a way to help my audience members solve problems and challenges they were dealing with, my speaking business launched itself. I didn't connect the dots until after it had already happened. Click here to read my blog on how to outline a great speech.
There are many more tips to help any type of speaker feel more confident about speaking and to battle through Imposter Syndrome. To talk through what I have shared above and ask any questions, schedule a FREE "Discovery Call" with me by simply clicking this link. As a speaking coach, I love helping speakers at any level envision new possibility and achieve desired goals.
*** BONUS TIP. Practice, practice, practice!
"Repetition is the mother of skill." If you want to be good ant anything, you practice. If you want to be great at something, you practice even more. And if you want to be one of the best at it, you practice more than others.
Practicing a speech helps a speaker develop the speech. So a great speech comes from practice ... and not just once, but over and over and over. And there are many ways to find opportunities to practice a speech. I've listed numerous practice opportunities at the end of Module 2 in my book, PAID to $PEAK.
Even if you're not feeling confident or ready to practice your speech, the opportunities I've outlined are safe places for you to reconsider practicing. Trust me, you'll feel more confident about speaking after you've spoken!