Nothing strikes fear into you like being asked to give a presentation at work.
Tense team meetings? Fine. Dealing with stressed clients? No problem. Taking on a major project all by yourself? Piece of cake.
But stand up in front of 10 or more people and deliver a speech?
Now that’s where your nerves give out.
No matter how much you prepare or how often you practice, as soon as you start to speak you feel your tongue tripping up on words and your voice shaking uncontrollably.
The only good thing is that it’s a situation and reaction most of your audience will be very familiar with – after all, there aren’t many people who can honestly say that they enjoy doing presentations.
The ones who do look freakishly calm and composed have simply had years of practise at hiding their nerves.
With that in mind, we’re sharing five simple tips that’ll help you become a confident public speaker.
#1: believe in what you’re saying
If your mind instantly empties the moment you stand up to speak, give yourself a confidence boost by undertaking a course in business studies online.
You’ll feel much more relaxed if you have a solid grasp of what it is you’re talking about, plus learning about the latest industry developments will provide you with plenty of background material to fill any blank moments.
#2: learn to breathe through it
Even if your heart is racing a mile a minute, you can hide it by sounding and looking calm – it all comes down to breathing. Get it right and it can keep your voice smooth and wobble-free, lending you a more commanding tone.
Before you start a presentation, fix your posture by sitting up straight and focus on breathing slowly and deeply to relax your body.
#3: look people in the eye
Forget the old adage about imagining your audience sitting there stark naked – it doesn’t make anyone feel comfortable. Instead, make a conscious effort to look people directly in the face as you talk.
Cast your eyes around the room and focus on those who’re showing signs of interest, and it’ll feel much less intimidating.
#4: dress the part
One thing the 80s got totally right was the concept of power dressing, but you don’t need to go all-out shoulder pads and glam rock war paint to trick yourself into being more confident.
Scientists have proven the clothes you wear – whether a sharp suit or a pair of killer heels, whatever works for you – can alter your mindset, making you feel smarter and more in control.
#5: stop being so hard on yourself
The things you feel yourself nervously doing – stuttering, shaking, losing your train of thought – are nowhere near as noticeable or obvious as you fear.
Stop being so hard on yourself after every presentation and instead congratulate yourself on all the parts that went well – you’ll find it much easier to give your next one.
Ultimately, the trick to being a confident public speaker is to practice – bear our five tips in mind whenever you have to give a talk or pitch, and over time they’ll slowly start to make a difference.