Years ago I struggled greatly with public speaking. Most of my early life I was a self-conscious, chubby kid with glasses and a bowl cut who had little confidence. I would shake, turn beet red, and cry when I was told to present a project or read aloud in school.
Fast forward to now, I have a passion for speaking to an audience and I have become very proficient with public speaking as a personal skill. How did I get from there to here?
It started with a decision combined with many tricks I found out of necessity which I will share with you so that you can overcome your public speaking butterflies and beginning dominating presentations for better grades, career advancement opportunities and promotions!!!
Imagining the Crowd in Their Underwear… Doesn’t Work!
Let’s get this one out of the way.
I don’t know where this came from, but it is a load of garbage. It is hard to focus on anything and think of people in their underwear when you are choking up, feeling your neck get hot and having your heart rate skyrocket. If you haven’t read my post on overcoming test anxiety, I highly recommend you check that out as well (the tips work for anxiety in general)!
Instead, you should prepare as if it is a competition, go in with a plan, and carry yourself with earth-shaking confidence. Then, you can deliver your topic and change lives (even if it is not an interesting subject, it is all in how you present it).
Preparation – Rehearse FOR SUCCESS
I am sure you have heard the tip to present to yourself in the mirror. That kind of works. However, it lacks the thing that makes you truly successful; visualization.
The better method is to visualize yourself giving the presentation and running through it in your mind. Imagine the people you will be presenting to, in the room or lecture hall that you will be in. Visualize the professor’s head nodding in approval as you talk through your topic. Feel the amazing boost of gratitude when the crowd erupts in applause as you finish your speech.
You should read through your PowerPoint, notes or script enough to where you can speak it without looking at anything. When you visualize, you can imagine yourself going through every word you need to say without making any mistakes. Literally rehearse FOR success, not just saying things to yourself in the mirror. You need to be able to see the outcome you want in your mind because then it is as easy as reenacting a movie scene when you get on stage.
The more prepared you are, combined with having seen yourself achieve success in your mind, allows for a huge reduction in anxiety and calm, collecting thoughts put into words!
Fake It Until You Make It
If you struggle with confidence in front of people, this is the greatest tip you could ever take to heart. This is the phrase that changed my life in so many ways.
In order to become something, you have to act as if you already are. In order to become better at public speaking, you must act and conduct yourself as if you are the greatest public speaker to ever live! This will cause you to develop habitual action that will then carry you toward this idea.
Go out there and act as if the crowd should feel lucky to hear you speak. You own your time and your space. The moment you go to speak, the floor is completely yours and you are in control.
Pretend if you have to, because eventually it will become who you are.
The more times you can force yourself to go out there and speak as if you were born to do it, the more you will come to realize that it is not as bad as you thought, and that you are in complete control while speaking to a mass of people who are eager to listen to your every word.
Tell Stories and Speak With Conviction
The last thing you want to do is to ramble off a list of facts or issue short statements with pauses and “um’s” in between.
There should be a natural flow as you give your presentation, as if you were telling your friends about a story. Invite the audience into your thoughts and the material as if it was the one thing they had been searching for their whole lives.
Give enthusiasm and emotion! People feed off of energy, meaning that your positivity and excitement to share your material will carry over to those you are speaking to! This is why if you are having a bad day, and a friend or family member calls you to tell you a funny story of something that happened to them, suddenly you aren’t so down. Their lively and fun energy carried over to you.
You must generate energy before you speak, and then give it to your audience through your body language and words!
Dress the Part to Act the Part!
You feel how you look, and vice versa. If you are going to give a presentation, you should get a haircut and put on a suit (or something nice).
I do not care if your audience members are in leggings and sweatshirts (classic college). You will own the floor and dominate the room if you are the best dressed. It shows effort, attention to detail and sets you apart from the rest of your peers.
When you get a fresh haircut, add some style with make-up or accessories, and you dress nicely for a presentation, confidence will exude from you and you will give your presentation in a much more professional manner.
Make Yourself Memorable
You should give such an amazing presentation and speech that your professor and peers will remember you for it. You never know when you will need a recommendation letter or if you might network with someone in the audience later in life.
If you are that lady or gentleman that gave an amazing presentation and was professional, you will be remembered fondly and your effort will come back to reward you.
If you have comments, questions or need more advice on how to dominate with public speaking, please let me know in the comments below!
Conquer College and Dominate Life!
Don’t forget to check out the bonus sections on Public Speaking and Inspiration in the back of my book, How To Conquer College!