Personal Development
How to speak with confidence in public

How to speak with confidence in public

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Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

Anxiety when speaking in public is a common fear - it's estimated that 75% of adults struggle with this. Stress hormones can cause lack of focus, uncontrollable voice, and visible shaking. However, there are techniques that professional public speakers use to gain confidence. This article explains a few helpful tactics to help prepare and present with confidence.

Preparation and Organisation

Organizing your presentation and being prepared are essential; it reduces the chances of something going wrong. Examples of this include:

  • Visiting the venue and room you'll be presenting in in advance
  • Printing all materials the day before
  • Creating cue cards for yourself
  • Having a back-up plan for any technical issues
  • Giving yourself time for practice and rehearsal

Positive Mental Imagery

Engaging in positive mental imagery can help with self-confidence. Visualise yourself delivering your presentation with success and use all your senses to form the imagery. If any negative visuals appear, challenge those scenarios and replace them with realistic ones. This will help prepare you for the actual event.

Managing Nerves

It's important to remember that you were asked to present for a reason - the audience wants to hear you speak. To reduce jitters, try to avoid caffeine, listen to music or podcasts on the way, and do a mindfulness exercise. Prior to the presentation, also try doing some breathing exercises to stay calm and composed.


If you find yourself speaking too quickly, pause and take a deep breath. This will make it look like you're carefully considering what you're saying. Additionally, strategically plan pauses between questions and sections to give you time to calm down and for the audience to reflect. Pausing also reduces filler words like 'um', which makes you sound uncertain.


Being well-versed in the content of your presentation will make you appear confident. It's useful to stand up and speak out loud like it's the actual presentation, and to use visual aids where relevant. If time permits, practice body language and gestures, and then get feedback from others. It may also help to film yourself and review it afterwards.

Confident Body Language

When presenting, it is important to demonstrate relaxed and confident body language, and to talk slowly with positive movements. Maintain eye contact with the audience, use gestures to emphasise points, move around the stage, match facial expressions to what you're saying, and reduce any nervous habits. Additionally, remember to slowly and steadily breathe.

Other Techniques

Emphasising emotions is another way to manage nerves. Allude to any disappointment or excitement you may feel when relaying a story. Additionally, take your time when speaking to avoid talking too quickly. This frustrates the audience and makes it obvious that you're nervous. It's important to start with a story that people can relate to - the first few minutes are vital for engaging the audience.

Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

When speaking in public, find a friendly face in the audience that is engaged or nodding. Additionally, take note of your thoughts to identify any fears you may have, such as feeling judged. Challenge these thoughts by looking at instances of successful communication, and recognize how unrealistic they can be. Focus on the message that needs to be delivered to the audience and amplify your speaking characteristics.

Developing a Confident Stage Persona

Public speaking can be daunting, but with enough practice, you can learn to develop a confident stage presence. To start, take a look at your best qualities as a speaker and the features that make you stand out. For example, are you energetic or great at improvisation?

Humor is a great way to keep your audience engaged, but it must be done with caution. Making jokes at your own expense is a good way to get a laugh and build trust with the crowd. If you ever find yourself making a mistake on stage, be prepared with clever one-liners that you can use to diffuse the situation.

After the presentation is finished, it can be easy to focus on what didn't go well. However, it's important to recognize your successes just as much, if not more, than your failures. Remember that feeling nervous is normal, so try to make the most out of them instead of letting them hold you back.

Finally, it's important to push yourself out of your comfort zone to gain confidence as a public speaker. Avoiding uncomfortable situations will not help you grow in this area.

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