If you’ve ever had to give a public speech, you know how incredibly nerve wracking it can get. I remember I once had to give a best man speech/toast at my brothers wedding. I kept drinking glass after glass of wine with seemingly no effect.
Even worse is when you get tapped all of a sudden to say a few words when you aren’t expecting it. If you aren’t prepared, standing there with everybody looking at you can be tremendously terrifying.
Luckily, there are two approaches to easily overcome this fear so that next time you give a speech, you’ll not only be confident but also will feel secure knowing that the people hearing your speech will actually benefit from.
I remember reading an interview with actor George Clooney several years ago. He was recalling his early days as an anchor, having to go to audition after audition. He said that he finally discovered the secret of confidence. He found that confidence was the most important thing when giving an audition. More important than acting skills, and more important than remembering the lines.
The same is true in public speaking. Something happens to people when they see a person giving a speech who is extremely confident. It’s like their logic circuit shut off completely, and they take whatever the person says as true and sound, despite how crazy it may sound.
Its no wonder politicians have been able to lead people with such crazy ideas for so long. When they stand up and speak as though they believe in what they are saying, everybody else believes them as well.
So that is the first secret. Confidence. The best way is to simply “fake it till you make it.” You’ll be surprised how faking just the first few seconds of your speech will give you an incredible boost of real confidence. Once you set the tone, you’ll notice the audience looking at you with much less scrutiny, and much more openness and acceptance.
Which leads us to the second secret. The liberal use of pauses during your speech. Especially when used near or at the very beginning of your speech, pauses can have a profound effect on your air of authority. When you pause in the middle of a sentence, where people least expect it, it creates tension and a strong desire to find out what your important message is. Experts call this “building response potential.”
For example, instead of saying this:
“Today I want to talk to you about the importance of dental hygiene.”
“Dental hygiene is important because without dental hygiene, your teeth will rot.”
“And if your teeth rot you can’t eat candy.”
“I want to talk to you about…”
“Hygiene. Dental hygiene is important becauseâ€¦”
“Without dental hygieneâ€¦”
“Your teeth will rot. And if your teeth rot, you can’tâ€¦”
You get the idea. The first pause may be terrifying, as you’ll be standing there with everybody staring at you, and the silence can be extremely intimidating.
But you’ll soon notice that the interest you generate with your silence will literally destroy any thoughts of criticism in your audience’s mind. And quickly give you authority and confidence.
The best way to practice this would be to go and join a local toastmasters group. They are filled with kind people who are learning to give public speeches just like you, and are very supportive and helpful.
Of course, these techniques are also very powerful in one on one conversations or conversations in small groups. When you do this people will quickly be hanging on your every word.