All eyes are on you.
Head down, palms sweating, and inner thoughts colliding as you wish for a chance to exit the conversation and be transported to another location. You wish you didn’t look like a nervous wreck, but you can’t help but be intimidated when it comes to being in a large room full of influential people.
Here is the truth: Communication skills are the building blocks of success that you can’t live without. You can try to avoid speaking in front of a large group but you can’t run away from the day-to-day communication requirements that may force you to speak extemporaneously to a group of strangers.
Start finding ways to build your communication skills every single day if you want to be prepared for any situation that comes your way. Here are 4 tips for boosting your communication confidence:
Practice Your Craft.
If you’re expecting to wake up with unflappable confidence when you’ve never spoke in front of a large group of people, good luck. It’s not impossible but you always want to increase your chances of success by being prepared. Start with the end in mind. Focus on the message that you want to convey and work backwards to identify the best way to appeal to your audience. Then, you want to make sure you aren’t distracting your audience with pesky filler words such as ah, ya-know, and um. Whenever you are tempted to fill the air with vocal distractions, breathe and let out a strategic pause while gazing into the eyes of your audience. This gives everyone time to digest the information that you presented and gives you a chance to think about your next steps. Need help implementing these steps? Practice your communication skills at your local Toastmasters club. Toastmasters provides a supportive learning environment for practicing your communication skills and receiving immediate feedback. If you have a friend that you can practice your speaking progress with, ask them to give you 3 strengths that you can capitalise on and one area of opportunity. This motivational feedback will boost your confidence and make you more aware of your speaking impact.
You look like you are directing the worlds’ largest orchestra and you don’t even know it. What you don’t know is a huge handicap to your speaking progress. Don’t be left in the dark; start recording yourself. You want to see and hear what the audience is observing. It may be tempting to look at your video and criticise every move you make, but if you are sensitive, this may cause you to mute your voice for the rest of your life. Instead, watch yourself carefully and point out 3 things you really did well and note one area of improvement that you would like to implement next time. There is power in knowing how you present yourself in front of an audience; it gives you more control over the changes that you can make to be the confident speaker that you aspire to be.
Visualize Your Success.
Your heart is beating uncontrollably because you can’t stop thinking about your speaking nightmares – tripping over your words, forgetting your thoughts, and sweating profusely as your audience stares at you with confused eyes. Do yourself a favour; erase those thoughts before you open your mouth. You have to see yourself as a confident speaker before you can win on the stage. Imagine walking into a room and everyone is greeting you with welcoming smiles waiting to hear the valuable information that you will present. Then focus on the feeling. How does it feel when your message is well received by your audience? Start with this simple trick to improve your visualization techniques: Identify a speaker who inspires you and watch a performance where the crowd is really tuned in to what they are saying. Now take two minutes each morning to visualize yourself on that same stage receiving standing ovations from everyone in the audience.
Change Your Focus.
If your communication fears arise from the thoughts of judgment that you will receive from others, you need to redirect your attention. It’s not about you. It’s about the valuable gifts that you have within you that others get to unwrap when you communicate with them. There is nothing to fear when you realise your words can change someone’s life. What you have is exactly what someone needs to hear. Your voice may help your company increase profit margins or help the shy introvert in the audience overcome their greatest fears. Focus on what you have to share with the audience and you won’t have time to worry about what the tall, stoic-faced, person in the corner thinks about you.