One of the most common concerns we hear is “How can I be less nervous when all eyes are on me?”
Confidence while speaking is a challenge for almost everyone, even the most accomplished and experienced. The spotlight is fully on you, everyone is listening, and we all want to do well. It is not easy.
So whether you are in front of a group of 2 or a group of 200, here are a few things that will help build your confidence:
First, you have to be prepared. Take the most experienced confident speaker and ask them to stand up and speak about something they know nothing about and have not prepared for, and watch how quickly they look pretty ordinary. Preparation means you have planned out your goals, considered who your audience is, and planned out your message. It means you have tried to anticipate the possible objections to your message, and the questions you are likely to receive. Preparation is mission critical to confidence as it directly correlates to nerves. Think back on your attitude when walking into an “easy” test vs a “hard” test. Easy just means you were prepared, which likely meant more confidence.
Second, you have to practice. Once your message plan is sorted, and talking points are created, you are not done! Now is the time to practice, out loud. You will immediately identify which concepts you are more comfortable with, and which you struggle to articulate. We encourage clients to record themselves in some of the final practice rounds, so you can hear and see from your audience’s perspective.
Third, stop thinking about this as a performance. This mentality tends to make people nervous. But most people are comfortable having conversations. And almost every performance in the business landscape is a conversation, be it a sales pitch, an interview, leading a meeting, etc. Therefore, it is entirely reasonable to think of your upcoming time in the spotlight as simply a conversation between you and others in the room.
Preparation, practice, and conversation. Think about those three things and your confidence should go up.
Confidence leads to credibility.