#SmartStart Skills: 3 Skills for developing Confidence in Public Speaking

Public speaking is feared by many at the same level as the fear of death. Often, this fear comes from not feeling confident in your appearance or with your skills. A life coach shares tips to boost self-confidence to improve public-speaking skills.


Sophie Skover, a coach and inspirational speaker from LSS Harmony Life Coaching, explains how to boost self-confidence so you can deliver that speech with style, not sweat. Skover says to start with the basics. Be prepared — know your overall message and practice your speech with a timer. You’ll be confident in your words and your timing. Then, you can focus on your delivery. Below are Sophie’s top-three confidence-boosting tips for public speaking.

  1. Be you, flaws and all

The fact is, no one is perfect. Let go of that expectation, and keep reminding yourself that you were picked to give this speech. True authenticity and confidence are attractive. Skover explains how to do this. She says, “Give yourself permission to be you, flaws and all. You are the only one in the world who is an expert at being you. Let your true heart shine through your words and know you are great the way you are. Sure, you may have some growth areas, but don’t let that rule your nerves or your approach. Know that everyone standing on stage has experienced the same feelings you are feeling, and you can do it. Say to yourself over and over, ‘Everything is OK. I am OK right now.’ Know it is OK, you are OK, and show your true strong and capable self.”

  1. Laughter is a strategy

Laughter breaks — internally and externally — the ice. You feel good about yourself when you laugh and when you make others laugh. And people look lovely when they smile and feel good about themselves! Skover suggests using a joke to start your speech because by opening with a joke, your smile will lighten your look and mood and set a great — and confident! — tone for the rest of your speech. If possible, try weaving anecdotes throughout your speech for the same reason. Your audience will remember the smiles you shared.

  1. Mind games

Ever since The Secret, everyone who has wanted to has used this truth: Everything is possible. Turn this into what you need to hear: You are wanted, and you are worthy. Skover says, “Now this is something that you can only give yourself. Come from that deep place in your gut where you know and believe that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Believe you will have a positive impact. Believe that one person out there needs to hear what you have to say and that you saying it is the only way they will hear it, and finally, believe that you are great!” Confidence has the greatest impact on your looks and on your success. Gift yourself the knowledge that you’ve got this, and you’ll look great doing it!

I am @StevenHaastrup.

After 30 weeks of writing straight from my heart, I will for the next 7 weeks be sharing relevant articles, properly referenced and credited; ones I trust will help you grow bigger and better.

Make sure you share it among your followers and mutual friends; it might be all they need to get up and stand tall.

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#SmartStart Skills: The Seven Things You Must Know About Public Speaking

Toastmasters_1_610_300_s_c1_center_centerToday, I am going to share with you one of the best write ups I have seen on Public speaking by Richard Zeoli, author of The 7 Principles of Public Speaking, He is the founder and president of RZC Impact, a communications firm specializing in executive-level communication coaching and strategic messaging. He is also a visiting associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey.


We turn on the television and see people speaking before crowds or handling reporters with confidence and it all looks effortless. In the 15 years I have been training people to become more effective communicators, I have watched for common qualities among great speakers. Are they made, or are they born? Do they have a gift that most of us will never know or is there something more to it? I have seen major political candidates up close and personal, watched prominent chief executives interviewed on national television. I’ve worked with familiar TV personalities who experienced anxiety whenever they spoke in public.

I have learned from it all that even the people we think are the most natural public speakers often undergo significant training. Sure, a few may be born with a gift, but the overwhelming majority are effective speakers because they trained themselves to be so. Either they’ve pursued formal public speaking education or coaching or they’ve taken every opportunity to stand on their feet and deliver speeches.

I have found that being a successful public speaker boils down to following these seven essential principles:

1. Stop trying to be a great speaker.

To truly connect with an audience, first understand that people want to listen to someone who is relaxed and comfortable as well as interesting. In the routine conversations we have every day, we have no problem being relaxed. Yet too often when we stand up to give a speech something changes. We focus on the public at the expense of the speaking. To be an effective public speaker, you must do just the opposite. Focus on the speaking and let go of the public.

If you can carry on a relaxed conversation with one or two people, you can give a great speech. Whether your audience consists of two people or 2,000, and whether you’re talking about the latest medical breakthrough or what you did today at work, it’s never about turning into someone you’re not. It’s all about talking directly to people, being your authentic self and making a connection. That’s all.

2. Stop trying to be perfect. When you make a mistake, no one cares but you.

Even the most accomplished public speaker will make mistakes. Just remember that the only person who really cares about any one mistake is the person doing the speaking.

People’s attention constantly wanders. In fact, most people only really hear about 20% of a speaker’s message. The other 80% they internalize visually. This ratio is true in nearly everything: watching a football game or a television show, or even having a heart-to-heart conversation. When you make a mistake, the audience rarely even notices. The most important thing you can do is keep going. Don’t stop, and unless the mistake was truly major, don’t apologize. Unless your audience is reading along with your speech, they won’t know that you left out a word or said the wrong name.

Whether you’re the president of the United States or a speaking coach like me, you will make mistakes. It’s part of being human, and our humanity is what makes us great speakers, because it’s what enables us to connect with our audience. Audiences don’t want to hear perfection. They want to hear from someone who is real.

3. Visualize. If you can see it, you can speak it.

Great winners in all walks of life draw on the power of visualizing. Sales people envision themselves closing the deal; executives picture themselves developing new ventures; athletes close their eyes and imagine themselves making the basket or hitting the home run.

In public speaking, the best way to fight anxiety and become more comfortable is by practicing in the one place no one else can see you–your mind. If you visualize on a consistent basis, your mind will become used to the prospect of speaking in public, and pretty soon you’ll find that the idea no longer elicits those same feelings of anxiety and fear.

If you have a presentation to give, set aside 30 minutes a day to visualize yourself giving it. Do so in as much detail as possible. See yourself up at the podium. Feel yourself relaxed and comfortable. See yourself delivering the whole thing and connecting with your audience. If you do this every day, by the time the real presentation arrives your mind will be trained to accept the situation as familiar. You will feel much more relaxed and confident in front of the audience.

4. Be disciplined. Practice makes good.

Our goal is not to be a perfect public speaker, since there is no such thing, but to be an effective one. Like anything else in life, that takes practice. It’s easy to take communication for granted, since we spend our lives speaking to people. But when our prosperity is directly linked to how good we are in front a group, we need to give the task the same attention as any other serious job. Even world champion athletes practice their craft on a consistent basis.

When I work with clients, I always record their speeches so they can study their presentations. For most of us, however, the best way to practice is simply by giving a speech in the comfort of our home or office. The more you practice it, the more prepared you will be, and that leads to confidence. If you have a speech to give in a week, rehearse it on a daily basis. Deliver it out loud as soon as you get up in the morning, at least once in the middle of the day and twice before you go to bed. Do this every day, and when it’s time to deliver the presentation, you will be prepared. You’ll know the material inside and out. Along with visualization, this is the most effective way to overcome anxiety and build confidence about performing before an audience.

5. Describe. Make it personal.

Regardless of the topic, audiences respond best when speakers personalize their communication. Take every opportunity to put faces on the facts of your presentation. People like to hear about other people, about the triumphs, tragedies and everyday humorous incidents that make up their lives. Capitalize on this.

Whenever possible, include yourself personally in your public speaking. Not only will it help your listeners warm to you, but it will also do wonders at putting you at ease. After all, where is your expertise greater than on the subject of you?

6. Inspire. Speak to serve.

Yes, talk about yourself, but make the main focus not yourself but your audience. When you think about it, the proper purpose of a speech is not to benefit the speaker but to serve the audience, usually through teaching, motivation or entertainment. So in all of your preparation and presentation, constantly think of how you can help your audience members get what they want from you. When you do this, your role as speaker becomes a role of meeting the needs of the audience. It is sure to take much of the fear out of public speaking, too.

7. Build anticipation: Leave your audience wanting more.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my years in communications is that when it comes to public speaking, less is usually more. Rarely if ever have I left a gathering and heard someone say, “I wish that speaker had talked longer.” On the other hand, I imagine you can’t count the times you’ve thought, “I’m glad that speech is over. It went on forever.”

Surprise your audience. Always make your presentation just a bit shorter than they expect. If you’ve followed the first six principles, you’ve already won their attention and interest, so it’s best to leave them wishing you had gone on for just a few minutes more, rather than squirming in their seats waiting for you to finally stop.

I am Haastrup Steven Adeshope, the E.D of StartUp Nigeria, Initiator of Lagos StartUp School (A startup resource bank) and the principal lead of StevenHaastrup.Org (A communication coaching and consulting firm).

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