Building confidence as a public speaker is the most common request at presentationYOU. It’s no wonder since it is the number one fear in most adults, ahead of both death and spiders.
We all experience a bit of anxiety before an important conversation. But left alone, it can drain your confidence more and more with each missed opportunity. Opportunities to influence an audience in a keynote; to demonstrate your value in a meeting; or to close a sale.
Each opportunity you have to speak up or speak out will result in either you building your anxiety or building your confidence. Which do you prefer?
Imagine what you could do if you were more confident. Would you speak more in public to promote your business? Would you present your idea to solve that problem in the management board meeting? Would you finally be seen at the boardroom table as an equal?
Step 1: Name Your Fear.
The first step to building confidence in speaking is to Name Your Fear.
It’s not enough to know you fear public speaking (whether at the podium or across the boardroom.) We all have fears for a different reason. Getting to know why you fear public speaking is the only way to overcome it and become more confident.
No one likes talking about their fears let alone digging deeper into them. Deeper is where we become more vulnerable. It’s against our very instincts to survive.
So in order to find the truth behind your fears, you need to create a safe place. This where having a trusted advisor (ahem, like an executive coach) comes in handy. Exposing your fears in the open will only give them strength. You need to do it where you feel safe and protected. A trusted and skilled advisor can help you and guide your dig like an archeologist sifting through thoughts and interpreting behaviors.
Your underlying fears may include:
- Being seen as a fraud. You may be afraid that others will discover you don’t know the content or that you are not an expert
- Being judged. You may be afraid of the audience and their reaction to you as a person.
- Making mistakes. Forgetting words or your place in the talk.
Whatever feeds your fear, it is important to find and name it.
Not a pet name like “Dave” and then be friends with it. That’s a different approach. The goal is to identify it and become aware of it. Don’t avoid looking for it or digging a little into your behavior to find out exactly what frightens you.
You may find you have many fears. Take them one at a time.
There are as many fears as their are people. We all have prior experiences that feed our fears as well. These prior experiences and how we recall them are what is known as the ‘stories’ we tell ourselves. The stories are rarely accurate. And if you repeat that story in your head enough times, you begin to believe it as truth – even if it is not.
The stories you tell yourself about your past experiences of public speaking are one of the resources that can be used for good or evil. It’s your choice. And that’s the second step we’ll cover next time: Get to know your fear.