The first time I had to give a speech, I was so nervous I wrote the whole thing out long hand, hid behind a big lectern, and read it out without looking at anyone in the audience once. Which might have been fine if I’d been reading the news to camera – but it was supposed to be an educational speech to a live audience!
I’ve been a member of Early Bird Speakers for a good couple of years now and if there’s one key thing I’ve observed that makes the difference between giving a brilliant speech or evaluation which really resonates with the audience, and a mediocre one which fails to make the connection.
And of course, that difference is CONFIDENCE!
Taking the stage and feeling all of those eyes on you is nerve wracking – and unfortunately, confidence is not a like a hat, to be put on at will.
Or is it?
Much like smiling when you’re sad, acting like you feel confident when you take the stage can fool your brain (and more importantly, your audience) into thinking you’re right in your comfort zone – even if mere minutes feel like they might last the rest of your life.
So, think of the speakers you most admire, and observe the way they stand up straight, walk naturally, smile at audience members as they take the stage – and then do the same.
Last year, I made a conscious effort to take the stage as often as possible, even if only to do a relatively minor role.
This is what I learned:
Much like smiling when you’re sad can make you feel happier, acting like you’re a confident speaker will mean you give it your best. You then receive feedback, both positive and constructive, and apply it the next time you speak. This creates a virtuous circle of improvement – which in turn will boost your confidence in your own ability.
So remind yourself:
If it is to be
It is up to me.
Or, more prosaically:
“Fake it til you make it”!
Mindy Jhittay is chatty by nature and a solicitor by profession, so public speaking was perhaps always meant to be. A (closet) Brummie by birth, she’s been in London for over 5 years now – bonus points to anyone who can spot a stray Midlands vowel in one of her speeches.