I’ve always liked to be heard. I have an opinion and love to share it. Speaking in public was something that I was okay with. Nervious, but overall fine. You have to be if (like me) you’re prone to standing on your soap box.

I would present and I could perform but when it came to being myself I often left people cold. I could speak in public, but I wasn’t very good at it. Then I went through a training and development course and speaking in public just clicked.

I could be with people.

Whether in front of them or in a group, I could actually experience the moment and then share what there was to share. In fact at one stage, part way through the program I was called on to speak a eulogy at a funeral in front of a thousand people. These tips helped me get through. Helped me stay calm. And had me connect with the people there in a way they remembered beyond the usually reading.

And I’m not special. I think anyone can do it. It just takes training, breaking through what’s going on in your head and being committed to something more important than you are. Oh yeah, easy Suger, simple you might say, but it is when it comes down to it. It’s five key things. Well I think it is.

Here are the five key items that I learned that will help.

how to speak confidently in public speaking

How to speak confidently;

Make eye contact.

Most people will tell you NOT to make eye contact. Look towards the back of the room. Fake the eye contact thing by looking just over people’s heads. Well bull to that. Eeeek, controversial! When you make eye contact you are interacting with your audience. You see the encouraging looks or the nodding off and you can adjust, if need be. Make changes or clarify your point when people look confused. You need to know where your audience is at so you can effectively communicate with them. That is, after all, what you re doing up there.

Be comfortable.

The first time I spoke in public professionally, I worried so much about what I would wear I was in THE MOST uncomfortable, but professional looking suit. Wearing suck in underwear so I looked slimmer and teetering on high heels that almost had me skid off the platform. Not a good look. Sure you want to look professional and authoritative, but mostly you want to be yourself. And you are more able to be yourself if you’re physically comfortable.

Know your stuff.

If you are speaking as an expert you have to consider YOURSELF an expert. If that takes a little more research, some current reading on the topic or hours of preparation, you have to do it. If you try and wing it, you’ll be more nervous and more likely to perform the public speaking equivalent of a face plant. You want to have a basic speech outlined, know your material and be ready to divert from the plan if the situation calls for it. Act like a scout, be prepared.

Make it about them.

Even thought you’re pretty sure that in that moment the universe revolves around you and your fabulousness, it doesn’t. You are there to be of service to the people in front of you. You are there to communicate the information or knowledge they require. Really, you’re a conduit and that’s it. It’s about them, so stop making it bout you and the whole process will be easier. Stop thinking like you and start thinking like them. Deliver what it is THEY came to hear and you’ll always be a smashing success.

Enjoy yourself!

Look it really comes down to no matter how nervous you get before (and I get VERY nervous, you need to enjoy yourself. If sharing what you know isn’t enough of a kick, think about how very cool it is that someone cares. Laugh and joke, if that’s your thing. Have a good time and let yourself shine.

So they are my tips! I hope they help, especially for those of you taking their first steps into the public speaking world. It might even be a presentation for work or school, whatever it is, feel the zen come over you. I’ve got your back!

Are you a confident and effective speaker, or are you the I’d rather die thanks variety? Got any tips for us?

  • Fi @ My Mummy Daze

    I love these tips, Melissa! I was a bit the same as you with public speaking but then I started working as a drug & alcohol counsellor. Part of my role was facilitating psycho-educational group sessions and my confidence in public speaking really changed. I view getting up in front of a crowd much more differently now. I’m really enjoying your Confident You series! Fi xx

    • Thank you Fi. And yes, I imagine with that experience all the rules on ‘how to speak’ get thrown out the window.

  • river

    Public speaking isn’t my thing. I’ve never done it and don’t want to, but I could if I had to. it was enough to speak to strangers at the checkout every day.

  • Cilosophy.blogspot.com

    I love an audience!! And a good thing as I do medical research
    Cilla xx

  • Finch

    Your topic couldn’t have come at a better time, as I’m presenting a paper at a conference tomorrow. Eeek. I’m a jumble of nerves but will take your advice and I’m sure I will be fabulous.

    • All the best with your presentation tomorrow! I’m sure you’ll nail it. Have a great time. 🙂

  • Katyberry

    What a great post. For me, the key is Know Your Stuff – if I feel confident about the topic I think I am a very engaging and genuine communicator, but if I am nervous about the level of my understanding of a topic I will stick like glue to a set presentation, and whilst that can come off OK, it never really fires

    • Yes! Absolutely. I feel the same way, when I know my stuff, I’m more relaxed, can divert from the script if I need to, answer questions without issue. It just goes better.

  • Patrick weseman

    Amen to that.

  • Just wanted you to know that this post made *ALL* the difference yesterday for me. I spoke at a remembrance ceremony (and was dreading it!!). I had spoke about 4-5 times before, but late Friday night I was googling public speaking and came onto your blog and this post and your point about making it about the audience and not yourself, well that did it for me. I had no idea that was my problem. I sound very arrogant, I promise I’m not lol! I just thought you should know that you helped me more than you’ll ever know, because I never thought about it that way. I just was always so nervous about disappointing my audience or doing something embarrassing. Anyway, I’m actually looking forward to the next time I get to speak 🙂

    • Wow! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. I’m so glad I was able to help you be of service to those people.

      You don’t sound arrogant either, by the way, it’s the human condition to worry about our own survival, it’s just the way it is.