How to Build Self-Confidence in Public Speaking

I’m often asked by audience members, social media followers, and prospective clients about overcoming their fear of public speaking. Other times, the person is not scared, they just don’t know where to start with speaking. They either know presentations are important to their career or hobby (like speaking at church) or they recently received a promotion where they need to speak, so they ask me how to build self-confidence in public speaking. Although building confidence is different than overcoming fear, I regularly see confidence building as the step after overcoming one’s fear. Because once someone’s fear is gone, they want to grow their new found “power” (skill) in speaking.

How to Build Self-Confidence in Public Speaking

  • Start Small – You can’t build your confidence sitting on the sidelines, you need to do it. Look for events and associations where you can speak, especially ones with smaller audiences of 8-25 people. Many trade organizations have a young professionals group that regularly seek speakers. Do the local circuit of small groups to build your name and work out the kinks as you build up your confidence in public speaking.
  • Prepare for Presentations – I always say that proper presentation preparation will cure 80% of stage fright, but it also helps to build your confidence. When you’ve prepared, practiced, and rehearsed your presentation to the point where you’re comfortable with the presentation’s information, flow (order), and visual aid, then your preparations will dramatically boost your confidence walking on stage.
  • Work through Butterflies – While you’re building your self-confidence, you will have moments of doubt, sometimes the minute before you walk onto the stage or while being introduced, even to small groups. Remember two things: those butterflies are a good thing because they give your presentation energy and come across as your passion for the topic, and, secondly, your adrenaline levels will drop dramatically after 1-2 minutes. Take a deep breath and force yourself to make it through that first couple of minutes of your presentation and the rest of your speech will be smooth sailing.

Just like you have to force yourself to get started (like Nike’s “Just Do It” mantra), you need to continually step outside of your comfort zone and speak to larger audiences. I’m not talking about going from an audience of two dozen to keynoting a major conference with thousands of people in the audience. Work your way up, building your self-confidence with each tier, so you’re ready when you get that amazing opportunity to speak at the perfect event.

While you’re refining your presentations skills and building your self-confidence, I suggest doing a presentation debrief after each of your presentations. Download my presentation debrief guide to ensure you’re evaluating each aspect of your presentation.


Additional Resources

How Speak Simple Can Help You

Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.

Tagged under: