Having confidence when you stand up to speak in public is something the majority of people suffer with.
After all, as you’ve probably heard, more people fear public speaking than they fear death.
But if you can overcome this fear and step into becoming more confident and assured whenever you have to give a speech, then you’ll have an unfair advantage that will help you become more successful in life and in business.
As someone who has been on stage more times in a month than the average person gets to be their entire life, I can tell you...
Everyone suffers from a lack of confidence from time to time when having to give a talk in public.
And yes, I mean EVERYONE (including me).
I know what it feels like to have that gnawing fear that you might get up there and forget everything you planned to say or, even worse, say the wrong thing and stumble over your words.
So the question for today that I’m going to be answering is, “How to speak confidently in public - on any stage, in front of any crowd?”
How do you walk onto any stage and believe it deep down when you tell yourself, “I got this!”
Are you ready?
Here are the 7 tips for confident public speaking I’ve learned that will help you whenever you have to talk in public.
Speak Every Time You Get A Chance To
Have you ever heard the saying: “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear around that thing is certain.”
It's from Ralph Waldo Emerson. I've paraphrased it a little, but you get the idea. In case you’ve never heard the saying before or have no idea what it means, allow me to explain.
The more you do something, the more comfortable your brain, nervous system, and body become doing it.
This makes sense, right?
When you do something enough times and actually succeed at it once in a while, your body has more experiences to draw from.
You’d have noticed this at some point in your life. Your body just recognizes some activities sometimes and goes, “Hey, I’ve done this before!”.
The same applies to public speaking.
If you speak on stage enough times, those experiences and the “hey, I’ve done this before!” moments start to outweigh the anxiety, the nervousness, and the stage fright… allowing you to become more confident on stage.
Not to quote the shoe brand Nike on this, but if you want to become more confident doing something: JUST DO IT…A BUNCH.
It’s that simple.
By the way, I understand that some events are “once in a while” things and are impossible to do over and over again. You may be thinking of something like, "Well, I have to go speak in front of my bosses at this conference, and it's a one-time thing. How do I do that a bunch?"
Well, you can't. Because, as you say, it's a "one-time thing."
When I tell you, “speak every chance you get,” I’m speaking more broadly. I’m telling you to get on any stage available, as many times as you can.
Not one particular stage, but any stage you can find.
It doesn’t matter if that stage is a camera on your phone or in front of little kids.
The point is to seize any chance you have to speak in public and make the most out of it because these public speaking opportunities are chances to get more comfortable being on stage.
If you get invited to a wedding, and the MC says, “does anyone have anything to say about the couple?” You should get up and jump at the invitation to be on stage and practice.
That counts as a chance to be in front of people and actually talk to them.
The more you get on stage, the more comfortable you will be on stage in the future.
So tip #1 is…Get on stage as often as possible, and speak.
Practice and Prepare, and then Practice and Prepare Some More
Quick mind exercise…Imagine you’re a student at a College.
You walk into class one day and suddenly remember you have a difficult test today… A test you didn’t remember to study for.
On a scale of one to ten, how confident would you be?
Not very, right? You’d probably scale your level of confidence closer to a one than to a ten.
Okay, consider this then… What if instead of forgetting to study, you actually DID study?
What if you KNEW that you were fully prepared for the test? What if you’d spent the past week preparing, and you’re 100% ice-cold certain you’ll kill it?
How would you feel then? How confident would you be?
You’d be confident AF, wouldn’t you?
The same applies to confidence in public speaking.
You want to prepare your speech way ahead of time. Practice with it in the mirror, and then practice with it again because that makes you more comfortable. And when you are comfortable, it becomes easy to be more confident when you eventually get on stage and speak.
So tip #2, in summary, is “practice and prepare… and then practice and prepare some more.”
Positive Self-Talk To Feel More Confident
Before we proceed: Whenever I say "positive self-talk," one of the things that usually happens is that people think I'm asking them to stand in front of a mirror and repeat mantras like "I'm good enough" or "I'm strong enough."
Well, not exactly.
Don’t get me wrong. If reassuring yourself in a mirror helps you, then I’d hate to rain on your parade. So, by all means, if that works for you, do your thing.
But what I mean when I say "positive self-talk," though, is…
Taking the conversation in your mind and shifting it from things to be worried or negative about to things that you can be more positive/excited about.
Here’s an illustration.
Imagine a conversation in your mind that sounds something like, “Man. I really hope they like my speech.”
Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Only, it does.
Saying, “I really hope they like my speech!” also makes you think that they “might not” like your speech.
Compare that with a conversation like, “Man, I cannot wait to add value to the lives of my audience!”
See the difference?
One of these internal dialogues considers the possibility that your speech ‘might’ be a flop, and the other simply affirms that:
So, the point is to make that switch from “I hope they like me” to “I can’t wait to be awesome and to add value to my audience.”
Here’s another example: Imagine you’re speaking to the biggest audience you’ve ever spoken to before (I remember this happening to me once).
Instead of saying, “OMG, I have never spoken in front of a crowd this big before,” you could try shifting that conversation to "I am so excited for this opportunity to touch more lives at once than I've ever touched before."
See how that works?
I’m simply taking shifting the conversation from something that could be worrisome or negative to a frame that’s more positive and empowering.
By the way, don't forget that if "shifting the conversation" works better for you in front of a mirror or by reassuring yourself that people like you…then, by all means, go for it.
Lean On What’s Worked In The Past
OK…Have you ever watched a professional comedian on stage? One that just stands there for hours, delivering the most rib-cracking performance ever.
There must be some kind of sorcery involved, right? How did this comedian get so good? How come they never go blank or just…run out of jokes?
Maybe there's a script somewhere… Or maybe they have a really good memory and have memorized all the jokes they're telling.
That must be it, right?
Well, not exactly.
What these professional comedians do is write out a bunch of jokes and then go to a comedy club. They tell these jokes to a small audience and note which ones work and which don't.
The comedian takes the jokes that don't work and either throws them away or re-words them.
And then, they go to another comedy club, take the experience of what worked in the last club with them, and "lean on" what worked, then if it works again, then good.
If it doesn’t, they go back to step one.
You need to do the same.
Find the things that have worked for you in the past (or what has worked for other speakers, for that matter).
You don’t have to come up with new patterns or a new rhythm all the time. Just capitalize on what has been tested and proven to work in the past, and you’ll be fine.
Working this way will increase your confidence because you can be sure that what you're doing has worked in the past and will likely work again.
I remember getting off stage one time and feeling like I’d done a horrible job. The whole time I thought, “Man, I really sucked back there. I can’t believe I did things that badly”.
Coincidentally, someone had a video camera up while I was on stage and recorded a clip of me speaking to the audience. I watched the recording and was quite surprised at what I saw:
It turned out that I wasn’t even that bad on stage. I didn’t suck as bad as I thought.
When I had the opportunity to see myself up on stage, I was able to see all the good stuff that I was doing. I could see the audience’s response to my performance and how well I communicated my message to them.
Watching this video from the perspective of someone in the audience, I realized that my worries were all in my head. That’s not to say that there wasn’t room for me to improve (there always is), but most of what I was worried about was way overblown.
This happens because you, more than anybody else, know your mistakes.
It becomes easy to say, “Oh, man! I meant to say X, and instead, I said Y”.
And it’s even easier for you to tag minor things as mistakes and ding yourself for them (when the crowd probably didn’t even notice).
If they even noticed, chances are, they don’t care because they were enjoying your content.
The main point is this…
Recording yourself on stage gives you a chance to see yourself through the eyes of the audience… a chance to see how awesome you really are and the areas you need to improve on to be a better public speaker.
That, in and of itself, also helps you to speak more confidently in public. So record yourself speaking every chance you get… and then make adjustments based on what you see, and you’ll be more confident moving forward.
If you recall, confident public speaking tip #1 was to “speak on stage every chance you get.”
This, by the way, applies to however you want to define the word “stage.” Be it a YouTube video, an Instagram post, or a physical stage.
Tip number 6, "Visualize," is brilliant because it gives you a chance to get on stage whenever you want…in the theater of your mind.
I’m going to recommend a book to you.
Now, this book is no ordinary book. It is the “OG” of personal development books. It’s easily one of the top personal growth books OF ALL TIME (in my opinion). If you’ve never read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, you need to get a pen right now, write it down and go get it when you’re done reading this article.
If you prefer audio-books, you're still covered. There's a newer audio version by a gentleman named Dan Kennedy. You can download that on audible or wherever else.
Anyway, as I was saying, Psycho-Cybernetics is one of the “OGs” of personal development books. In it, the author touches on the topic of Visualization and explains how visualizing is an integral part of success in any endeavor.
To be clear, when I ask you to “visualize yourself on stage,” I’m actually asking you to visualize yourself IN THE FIRST PERSON.
What I mean is this...
Don’t imagine SEEING yourself on stage. Don’t imagine yourself as a bystander or as part of the audience.
Imagine yourself as yourself... if that makes any sense to you.
Imagine things through your own eyes. Imagine seeing yourself walk up the stairs.
Imagine seeing your shoes. Imagine picking up the mic and turning to the audience. See the audience clapping, and see yourself giving them your message.
Imagine yourself walking around the stage, giving the audience high-fives, conversing with them, and giving your speech.
Whatever you think the experience will be, imagine yourself going through it... visualize it and bask in it AS IF you’re doing it.
Doing this will allow you to be on stage and practice as often as you want before physically being on the actual stage.
Interestingly enough, your brain can’t tell the difference between real and imagined scenarios. So if you imagine yourself on stage a hundred times, in a way, you actually ARE on stage a hundred times.
How cool is it to know that you can improve your confidence a hundredfold with such a simple trick?
One of the ways I love to visualize myself on stage is that I imagine something going wrong. And then I imagine myself handling or fixing it in an awesome way.
This way, if or when something DOES go wrong on a physical stage, I’ve got the confidence to deal with it because I’ve dealt with such scenarios a hundred times in my mind.
In summary, visualizing doing something well before it happens is an important step to succeeding at it when it actually happens.
Remember, go get that book by Maxwell Maltz, and remember to visualize yourself on stage as many times as possible.
See Yourself As Others See You
You’ve probably interpreted this tip in your own way already. That’s great and all, but let me explain what I mean by this.
Have you ever watched a speaker on stage and seen them mess up? Maybe you’ve seen a few scenarios like these, where a speaker simply flops and begins to stumble over their words.
I’ll bet you have.
Now, try and recall again… when you watched that happen, did you suddenly think, “OMG, this has to be the worst speaker in the history of the world,” or “How dare they get on stage?” or “I can’t believe this is happening.” or “Get them off the stage right now!”
Did you think that?
When you watch speakers make mistakes, you don’t automatically condemn them or reach for a torch and pitchfork.
If anything, such a scenario would humanize the speaker in your eyes.
So the way you see the person on stage speaking is less “judgy” and more “humane.”
When you’re on stage, you can find comfort in knowing that people see you the same way. You can find confidence in knowing that if you mess up on stage, they won’t care nearly as much as you think they will.
Truth be told, no one sees your mess-ups more clearly than you. We, humans, have a tendency to exaggerate our own mistakes in our minds.
When mistakes like those happen to you, they might seem like the biggest things in the world. But if you get a chance to see yourself through the eyes of the audience, you’ll realize that your mess-ups don’t even register in their minds.
Often, mistakes make you appear more human. Thereby making it easy for your audience to connect and relate to your message. Your ‘mess-ups’ may even contribute to how much your audience actually enjoys your performance.
How To Speak Confidently In Public: The Wrap-Up
There you have it. My 7 PROVEN tips on how to speak confidently in public.
I hope at least one of those is the one that actually helps you, whether it be positive self-talk, visualization, or seeing yourself through the eyes of others.
Whichever tips you choose to implement, I hope that you apply them to become more confident as a public speaker and that you see positive results on your journey to becoming that awesome speaker.
Before You Go
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