There is a TONNE of info out there on speaking with confidence. In fact, Google told me–in 0.46 seconds that there are 36,400,000 results. Aside from the obvious that there is a lot of advice out there on this topic, that crazy stat tells me that a lot of people have a lot of insecurities about public speaking.
In my quest to find ways of upping your presentation game and confidence, I have joyfully labored to give you three key points that should help you if you have minor to significant speaking apprehension.
So let’s dive in.
The first thing to know about “speaking with confidence”
Without question, the only way to start addressing your issue is to pinpoint exactly what causes you concern. For without initially identifying this or haphazardly doing so, you will be left with incomplete solutions or strategies to handle the problem.
From my experiences, there are two categories of unease that most people fall prey to and they are categorized as internalized stressors or externalized stressors. Let me clarify each for you.
Internalized stressors are insecurities brought on by actual or perceived inadequacies Many who stutter, develop a deep apprehension that arises directly from their condition. Others who strongly identify as introverted or as someone who naturally does not crave social contact or connection may also feel the added pressure and stress brought on by public speaking engagements.
Another group of people may have a box full of negative memories and associations dating back to failed attempts at speaking. Some memories may reach as far back as childhood and a failed attempt at a classroom speech. I kid you not, a lot of people hold onto these early negative encounters with a presentation.
The commonality between the above examples is that the pressure these people exert on themselves stems mainly from a vision they hold of themselves from within. The chief worry is centered on letting themselves down again and in effect fulfilling their internalized prophecy of doom.
Externalized stressors on the other hand are–as you guessed–brought on by stressors mainly generated by external forces.
When someone is mainly worried about the effect of their performance on an outcome, they are said to be affected by an externalized stressor.
For example, perhaps this type of person’s presentation success or failure is tied to how their boss will perceive their ability. Maybe the worry is that if they don’t nail their talk, the current or potential client will be lost. Again, the key anxiety is linked up to the execution or lack thereof in relation to their performance.
Why its key to knowing the difference
Knowing which drives you is the starting point of figuring out how to address your issue and proactively take steps forward.
Yeah, I know that logic is not earth-shattering, however, you’d be surprised at how many people do not take the time to deeply think about what drives their fear and ultimately hinders their ability to speak with confidence.
Usually, most people simply allow the stress to build into a massive ball of anxiety that crashes and rolls about within their minds. Unfortunately, letting this occur strips away any hope for effectively dealing with the problem. The end result for these poor souls: sleepless nights, twitchy nerves and shaky voices. In other words, failure to execute.
What you can do:
First off, determine if your anxiety is rational or not. Ask yourself some poignant questions such as:
Do I really have a problem?
Is my condition real or is it something I used to deal with that rarely occurs now?
(ex. A stuttering condition in the past may just be that. If you have worked on the issue or have professional contingencies to handle it, you are as ready as you’ll ever be.)
Are my fears stemming from a previous episode that is not really relevant any longer?
Yeah, maybe you bombed one or even ten presentations in the past. However, do those facts necessarily ensure that E-V-E-R-Y single future episode will turn out the same?!
An emphatic NO is my answer to that! Simply reading up on this post and seeking out knowledge like this will position you to create positive outcomes. Believe in that logic, not the negative.
Will the world end if I bomb this presentation?
Unless you are the leader of the free world and pleading for mercy at the hands of your worst enemy, you will live to see another day and opportunity. I know that insight may do little when contemplating it on a surface level, however going big picture on yourself once in a while can help ease the stress whether it is internalized or externalized.
What can I do to address the issue now?
If you have a serious condition or a traumatic memory that you just can’t work through on your own, then perhaps it is worth your time to seek out professional assistance. The key in this approach, however, is to take one step–big or small–towards addressing it right away.
If you dwell on it or put off the decision, the anxiety will mount. A small step might simply be identifying someone to seek out and actually scheduling when to do it.
If you, in fact, have a bit of a quirk, could you make it work for you?
Many skillful presenters turn their perceived weaknesses into strengths based on the notion of being unique. I have witnessed presenters walk up in front of an audience and make light of their perceived stressor by using humor. Others may genuinely communicate the issue they have and ask for patience.
In both cases, being authentic and genuine about what ails you could offer up some chunky bits of audience love because quite frankly the display of such fragility and openness is quite rare from speakers. Most would prefer to give the impression that they live within that chic cloak of superiority, control, and poise when we all know that is an impossibility. Being real always wins points.
A quick summary of speaking with confidence –> Point one:
To sum up the first section on, “speaking with confidence”, you need to uncover what generates your anxiety so as to know how to address it.
Secondly, it pays to step back and do some higher level thinking about your perceived or actual presentation deficiencies. In doing so, you may find that you don’t actually have a major problem. If the opposite is true, then this admission will help give you clarity about who to follow up with or seek out assistance from.
The second thing to know about “speaking with confidence”
After successfully identifying your problem the second step becomes doubly important.
Sure, doing some of that soul searching and figuring out some of your personal issues which prevent you from rocking presentations could be mildly uncomfortable.
I get it.
Unfortunately, this step is where many people give in because quite frankly, it is more involved.
*Maybe your solution is seeking out a professional for assistance. Maybe that’ll cost.
*Perhaps your solution is more practice or a more concerted effort to driving yourself forward by way of skill development or training.
Either way, some degree of heavy lifting will be unavoidable.
To ensure that you are one of the few that follow through, I strongly advise you to get “leverage on yourself.”
Yes, get leverage on yourself. In plain English, this simply means that you take a few minutes to stare down what the effects of your positive actions could have on your personal and professional life.
Conversely, you could turn things around and challenge yourself to think that if you don’t make changes, what will that mean to your personal and professional goals.
Potential benefits of becoming a presentation rockstar:
*new business opportunities
*winning new business → more cash → bigger payout (bonus, commissions)
*thought leadership → garnering more respect → your projects/ideas initiated
*new job→ bigger salary→ better vacations→ better working conditions
Potential downfalls of letting my insecurities run wild:
*pitiful, stressful presentations→ increased levels of anxiety→ health issues
*inability to propel oneself forward→ lower pay grade
*business dies or growth opportunities remain stagnant
*less control and influence over projects and initiatives
*work harder for less pay
*family / personal/financial goals left out of reach
*continued dwindling of your self-esteem
*loss of job
Yes, I know some are extreme and may not fully apply. However, I have witnessed lives, careers and businesses change for the better based on one or a few series of talks given by speakers who clearly invested time into building their presentation mojo.
Quick Summary of speaking with confidence point two:
Get leverage on yourself so there is no other alternative logic that will allow you to duck out on the work required to up your presentation game.
The third thing to know about “speaking with confidence”
The final piece of advice as relating to speaking with confidence in centered on the action of reframing your goals.
To this point, if you have started this journey to speaking with more sureness you should have identified what has held you back to in the past. Secondly, in gaining leverage on yourself, your levels of motivation to address your issues ought to be high.
What’s left is simply being realistic about how you go about your improvement. Let’s say that you have decided to enroll in an online speaking course which addresses your actual weakness. Gobbling through the content and gaining knowledge about it, although critically important will not be enough.
Some degree of practice and refinement must occur. Naturally, this will take a bit of time pending what ails you. They key here is to have some simple milestones as far as expectations go.
You can’t assume that overnight you will become the next Steve Jobs as far as presenting is concerned. Be realistic. There will be some hiccups and it may take you a few presentations to get things right.
The key, however, is knowing what you want to accomplish and what kind of timeline is realistic to accomplish the goals.
In clearly delineating what milestones you aim to hit and how realistic each is within the context of a timeline, you will be able to allow yourself to learn, make mistakes and ultimately improve.
Allowing yourself to experience some initial hardships without being discouraged is key to sustaining progress and ultimately executing on your goal of speaking with confidence.
As always, my aim is to give you the goods to actually follow through on your improvement goals. So I put together a resource workbook to accompany this post. You can grab it here! It will guide you through each of the steps I outlined. Go and get it now!
To sum up
Speaking with confidence is a difficult skill to develop. A lot of people–over 36 million people–at the time of this post have issues with it. There are workarounds however.
- Know what your stressor is so you can take the right steps to address it.
- Get leverage on yourself so you actually follow through on what it will take to alleviate your speaking anxiety.
- Reframe your goals in a way that they become more realistic. Know exactly what you want to accomplish and what is feasible from a time-based perspective.
As always, I would love to hear how you make out! You can reach out by finding and following us on these platforms:
Twitter ⇒ @passion__fp
Pinterest ⇒ The Passion Fashioned Presenter
LinkedIn ⇒ Christopher Schoenwald