Here are 10 techniques you can use to help you boost public speaking confidence before giving a speech. You definitely don’t need to use all. Many take time to develop so try each one and see what works for you. Each one is based on my own personal experience and commonly agreed upon advice for public speaking and any stressful situations.
This advice is usually given before taking tests like the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc. You remain comfortable as you go throughout your day as usual. In addition, if you do something differently than normal, your body or mind might react negatively. For example, if you decided to eat a huge breakfast when you usually eat little, you may feel bloated. Some advice warns to stay away from caffeine before speaking. This is good advice if it will cause you to increase your nervousness, but if your routine is your Starbucks in the morning then it’s OK to keep that going.
I keep a lot of tension in my shoulders and upper back. For this technique, tense the muscles in your body one by one. Hold each for a few seconds and then relax.
I don’t recommend going for your 1-repetition max one hour before speaking, but exercise on a regular basis. It will keep you grounded each day and give you a clear mind for going into any stressful situation.
How I speak in shorts and a t-shirt (maybe at a Toastmasters meeting) is far different than wearing a suit to give a speech. It’s weird, but your clothes can influence how you think. Find an outfit that you like and feels comfortable but also one that matches the professionalism required of the presentation. Depending upon your boss or audience members, you might be able to be comfortable over completely professional. If you have a great presentation and do it well then most people may not care that you weren’t wearing a tie. No one is going to say that looking super-nice will negate a poor presentation. Note: If you are worth millions of dollars then it’s OK to wear a black turtle neck, jeans, and running shoes (kinda like that guy who ran Apple).
This article does a great job of covering many aspects of visualization and mental imagery. Use can use visualization to imagine your upcoming speech and mental imagery to mentally remove stress.
These methods may take the longest time to develop out of the ones on here. Trying them 1 week out from the presentation may not be as powerful as having continually practiced them. Still check them out to see if they will work for you.
I’m a big believer in “knowing your place.” Knowing the quirks of a room and it’s layout will help without being thrown on the day of the actual performance. You will be able to plan out where you will stand and move during your presentation and how to deal with getting around various obstacles like long rows of office chairs. It’s similar to the psychological effect of a sports team having the homefield advantage. Especially in baseball, the team is used to the grass and layout of their field, the position of the bleachers on the sidelines, and even the height of the outfield walls.
I am in no way giving medical advice nor advising you personally to seek someone. There are mental health professionals who specialize in treating anxiety and phobias. This is a personal decision for you to make.
There are many variations found for this technique through an internet search. The commonality for most is to breathe in through your nose, take a deep breath so your diaphragm rises, hold the breath, and then breathe out slowly. You will need to repeat multiple times and to practice over time.
You might want a friend backstage or in the audience quietly rooting you on. Your friend could also give you a pep talk beforehand. Other times, you might want to just be left alone to mentally focus. Be specific and polite about that one.
You don’t have to use all of the techniques above to boost public speaking confidence. Try each one and see if it works for you.
Want to boost public speaking confidence for your next speech?