When trying to learn how to improve speaking skills or how to improve public speaking, work on improving your confidence. It’s one of the single most effective ways to boost your delivery, and thus your presentation.
You may already have some strategies for increasing your confidence or reducing anxiety while presenting, and if they work well for you, keep using them. Here are some more ideas:
When you give a presentation, do you wonder:
Will the audience like me? Will I have anything useful to say?
Will I sound competent and professional?
These are common thoughts. However, if you think more about yourself than you do about your audience during your presentation, it can increase your nervousness. Think about connecting to your audience and helping them to learn something, rather than monitoring yourself or trying to perform perfectly. Pay attention to your audience as you talk. Seek rapport with them: make eye contact, smile, and respond or adapt to feedback.
One anxiety-reducing strategy that seems to help many people is using breathing exercises. These exercises seem most effective for people who have practiced them in advance, so try learning and practicing them well before your presentation.
As you prepare for your presentation, observe your own thinking about yourself as a presenter. Are your thoughts helpful or unhelpful?
We all have well-worn messages in our minds. Some of those messages encourage us to grow (e.g., ask deeper questions, do better, try again); some are comforting and complimentary (e.g., good job, well done, nice effort). Some messages in our heads make it hard to persist or try new things (e.g., you’ll never get it, no one will hire you, you’re just not good enough).
With practice, you can replace negative, undermining thoughts with encouraging, realistic thoughts, and you can then use these empowering thoughts anywhere, anytime.
How? Write or repeat positive statements about yourself that start with “I.” Make your statements positive, realistic, and simple. Leave no room for self-doubt.
“I can do this.”
“I have practiced; I’ll be fine.”
“I did ok last time; I’ll just do my best again.”
“I know what I am talking about.”
Practice these statements often, first in situations where you already feel comfortable, and then at times when you typically feel nervous.
Elliers, C. (2021, November 17). Presentation skills: Examples and tips to improve yours. Zety. https://zety.com/blog/presentation-skills
Queens University. (n.d.). Presentation skills. https://sass.queensu.ca/presentation-skills/
123RF. (n.d.). Business woman standing in front of a mirror looking at her reflection and imagine herself successful [Image]. https://www.123rf.com/photo_102842935_businesswomen-standing-in-front-of-a-mirror-looking-at-her-reflection-and-imagine-herself-successful.html?vti=mzlcx36zkvdpavaar4-1-4