Public Speaking (1)

On Monday, I posted about how we can develop more confidence. Today’s blog is all about how we project it while speaking.

Projecting confidence while speaking or on stage is possible the most important thing that a speaker can do. It makes you more interesting, more believable and more genuine. It really is the silver bullet for being persuasive and being taken seriously. If it’s that important, however, why do many people miss their opportunity? For my money its because they haven’t worked through enough of the steps outlined in Monday’s post, but if you have, and you’ve built real confidence, here my top five ways to project it on stage:

Take The Stage With Energy

By stage, I mean the front of the room or whatever the speaking area is supposed to be. Attacking the stage with energy shows a willingness to accept the challenge and will be seen as confidence. It’s also a great way to start if you’re not entirely there yet, as the motion will create the emotion. One word of caution, however, use appropriate energy. Rushing the front of the room to deliver a eulogy won’t be taken nearly the way taking the stage to introduce a new product will. Use your best judgment about what the appropriate level of energy is for the situation.

Step Up To Speak

When  most people are given the microphone or an opportunity to address a group, their first instinct is usually to back away. That’s because public speaking isn’t a normal act and we all approach it with a certain amount of trepidation. To project confidence, take a step toward your audience when your turn comes. This is a subtle way to show how confident you are in your ability to command the room.

Look Them In The Eye

Don’t fall into the belief that just because you aren’t looking down, that you’re making eye contact. As you make your points, take the time to actually look your audience member in the eye. One of the lessons that my mentor gave me was “talk to one speak to all.” This means to single individual people out of your audience and talk to them while you are speaking, but do it in a way that everyone can hear you. It takes a lot of confidence to look people in the eye when you talk and everyone will feel it.

Talk to one, speak to all

Pause. Like. You. Mean. It.

One of the most difficult things a speaker can do is get comfortable with silence; those breaks in the conversation that allow our audience to digest what we’ve just said. The less confident we are, the more we get scared that we’ll be seen as incompetent or out of control if we stop speaking. It’s the reverse that’s true, however. The more confident we are, the more in control we will seem when we take our time and pause between thoughts. Commanding the room means knowing that your audience will wait for you to finish. Take your time and enjoy yourself.

Be Yourself

I used to coach my clients that the single most important factor in giving a great presentation was being authentic.  I still believe that it’s a critical component, but it takes a tremendous amount of confidence to be yourself in the front of the room. It can only happen when we’re comfortable enough in our own skin that we don’t have to pretend to be anyone else. When we are secure enough with who we are to stop playing a role and simply be ourselves, however, we make an honest connection with our audience and that’s the kind of confidence that people respond to.

Confidence is often the difference between a good performance and a great one. If we take the time to build it, and are able to project it on stage by taking it with energy, stepping up to speak, making real eye contact, pausing and being authentic, we’ll be well on our way to commanding the room.

One of the best ways to be confident is to be prepared. Click to download my Presentation Preparation Cheat Sheet. ppcs (1)

 

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