Can you remember the first time you spoke in front of a group? My own "first" happened in front of 30 people. My hands were shaking, my legs trembling. “G-g-g-g-good morning everyone. Today I will talk about…”
After that failure, I did whatever it took to overcome my fear of public speaking. I read books on presentations. I watched speeches. I worked with public speaking coaches.
Fast-forward a few months, to when I spoke in front of 200 people. I was still nervous about public speaking but I knew the audience wanted me to succeed. So, instead of focusing on my own fears, I focused on serving my audience. And in that way I became a confident speaker.
I’ve since discovered three simple steps to becoming a confident speaker, and created the Expressive Leader System. I teach these steps to thousands of business leaders, helping them to speak with confidence and make a bigger impact.
Apply these three simple steps so you too will become a confident speaker:
While preparing for my speech, I was at a loss about what I should say. A colleague later asked me, “If you could have one sentence instead of the entire talk, what would you say?”
My message was, “Go for your dreams and never give up.” Using that as a guide, I came up with personal stories that people could relate to. In just minutes, I wrote an entire memorable speech.
The takeaway: Create a clear overall message so you know exactly what to say.
2. Practice, with a coach.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect. But practice augmented by coaching will help you greatly improve. I wanted to have a powerful voice, so I worked with a voice coach.
So, with the coach’s help, I learned to do voice exercises before speaking, to warm up my voice. The more I practiced, the more confident I became. I now have a powerful voice.
The takeaway: If you want to practice public speaking more effectively, get coaching.
Confident speakers are performers. They express ideas effectively and confidently.
I once had to speak in front of a group of CEOs over age 50. I worried that they might say, “You’re too young. You’re not qualified to speak here.” And then I remembered what Virgin Group founder Richard Branson had taught me: “Picture you’re talking to friends in the living room.”
I arrived at the venue early. I talked to audience members: “Hi, I’m Jonathan, it’s good to meet you.” Once I was on stage, people no longer thought of me as a stranger. I was a friend.
After the talk, people said, “Jonathan, I liked your talk. Can you be my public speaking coach?”
The takeaway: Picture yourself talking to friends in your living room, so you will be more relaxed and in control.
How do any of us become confident speakers? Prepare, practice, perform.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor.
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