Conquer your fears and speak with confidence

When you are fearful, nervous or anxious, it can be incredibly difficult to get your message across. There may be thousands of thoughts running through your mind about what could go wrong; making it harder to focus on the message that you trying to deliver.  Public speaking is the most common fear and the reason is that it can undermine our social standing or, at least we think it can. Certainly, if you speak with confidence it will help you get your message across better but after the initial shine has worn off, you still need to have delivered the right message.

For your everyday, normal conversations, it is not as important that you speak with confidence as you are likely to have built trust and respect in your relationships e.g. if you are in a management position, it is likely that your earned that positon by demonstrating your knowledge and expertise.  Where you really do need to speak with confidence is when you are addressing an individual or group of people whom you have not built a trusting relationship with or, whom are higher up the ladder than you. It is in these instances that you need to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. If you display a lack of confidence, you come across as somebody who does not believe in what they are saying or; somebody who believes that they are inferior to the people whom they are speaking to.

Everybody experiences nerves and a little fear when they are speaking to a new group or delivering an important speech. It’s perfectly natural. If you want to speak with confidence, you don’t need to get rid of all of those nerves. You just need to give the impression that you are not nervous.

Simple tips to speak with confidence

This is not intended to be a lesson on presentation skills but you can put the following tips to use to help you conquer your fears and speak with confidence.

1. Identify your fears

The best way to overcome any fear is to identify it and challenge it. If you have to deliver a talk or speech but you are feeling fearful; take the time to identify your specific fears. Write them all down in one list.

Once you have your list of fears, divide them into two lists – things which are within your control and things which are not within your control.  For the items which are within your control, identify an action you can take to reduce or eliminate that fear. Then, take that action.

For the items that are not within your control, accept that there is nothing you can do about them; roll that list up and throw it away.

You should now have removed many of the fears which will help you feel less nervous.

2. Practice, practice, practice

Rehearse what you want to say until you are comfortable and confident with it. If you are comfortable and confidence with the message and your delivery; you will feel less nervous when the time comes to deliver the speech; allowing you to speak with confidence.

If there is something which you fear might go wrong and, you feel that you cannot prevent it from happening, there is still something you can do. You can identify the action you will take when it goes wrong. Then, you can rehearse for that event occurring e.g. If you are afraid that you will forget your words, you can prepare some notes to help jog your memory. You can then rehearse forgetting your words and reaching for your notes to get back on track. The fact that you have rehearsed dealing successfully with the negative event will greatly reduce your fear.

3. Why does it matter?

With each of your fears, ask yourself ‘Why does it matter?’ In most cases you will see that the thing you fear is not that important. Even if one person doesn’t like your presentation, it doesn’t really matter. You will get over it.

In other instances, asking yourself ‘why does it matter?’ will actually help you to identify actions you can take to ease your fears.

4. Slow Down

Have you ever noticed how, when you are nervous, you speak fast with a very hurried tone? This comes across as somebody who is unprepared and doesn’t know what they are talking about. If you want to speak with confidence, you must focus on slowing down and speaking in a calm, confident and measured tone.

When you slow down and speak at a proper pace, you will find that you stutter less and trip over your words less; because there are less words for you to trip over. Slowing down also makes your voice sound deeper, more confident and more commanding.

5. Use your body language

Words are only a small part of communication. Body language is far more important. Those who speak with confidence, command their body language. Their body language matches their words and tone of voice to ensure that they are sending the same message. This shows that you believe what you are saying.

You don’t have to go overboard on body language. Just a few simple gestures can work wonders.

6. Make eye contact

Using eye contact is a great way to hold attention and demonstrate confidence. Of course you mustn’t over do this but if, throughout your talk, you hold eye contact for a short time, with each member of the audience (or at least a few) you’ll be able to get your audience’s attention and keep it.

If you struggle to stay calm and composed under pressure, check out Breathe.

If you want to progress in your career you will need to speak with confidence. There are many people who really know their stuff but they suffer in their career because they cannot communicate effectively when they are under pressure. To speak with confidence, you need to be able to stay calm and composed under pressure. Sure, there will be some nerves but with the right strategies these nerves and fears can be reduced and you will communicate your message with ease.

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