Actors wow us, amaze us, and inspire us but one, in particular, displays a level of confidence that I would wish for all in public speaking. The actor I am referring to is Clint Eastwood. In all the roles he plays, he never doubts himself. It is that level of belief in yourself and your abilities which you need in order to wow, amaze, and inspire your audience.
Fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, or fear of forgetting your material are the 3 main reasons many people approach the lectern with such trepidation. With that fear comes a lack of confidence that is formidable. Having little or no confidence in your abilities is the 1st step towards disaster.
With all the advice I give in public speaking, one of the most important things I stress is to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in your abilities to deliver a successful presentation, why should anyone else?
Building that confidence, however, takes work.
1. You must know your material inside and out which means you must practice it out loud;
2. You must learn to breathe with the support of your diaphragm, the best means of controlling nervousness in any form of public speaking;
3. You must talk to your audience and not at them just as if you were holding a conversation in your living room; and,
4. You must speak from your heart. Use your head; but learn to speak with color, with life, with emotion.
If you can accomplish these 4 requirements, you will sound more confident, you will look more confident and you will feel more confident. It is this confidence that will ‘allow’ you to believe in yourself. Not that you are going to give a perfect presentation, but, rather that you will deliver an excellent presentation. Perfection does not allow for mistakes; excellence does.
Bear in mind that everyone in the business, be it public speaking, acting, broadcasting, etc., makes occasional mistakes. It is unavoidable in a live venue. But they do not dwell on the error. Instead, they fix it (if possible) and move on. [If you are looking for perfection in your delivery skills, then you will lose the battle – do not seek something that is unattainable. Perfection in any live performance is subjective.]
The next time you are scheduled to address an audience, approach the lectern knowing that you will do the best job that you can and then do it. Go ahead – make their day!