Speaking in Public with Confidence - dummies

Speaking in Public with Confidence

By Judy Apps

Part of Voice and Speaking Skills For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Speaking in public is many people’s idea of a nightmare. Here are some easy hints on how to speak confidently and make an impact with your audience.

  • Stand well. Stand to your full height, with feet a bit apart, and put your weight evenly on both feet. Feel yourself grow taller and wider, so that you fill your space. Enjoy feeling how tall, broad and flexible you can be without effort.

  • Relax. Without slumping, feel every part of your body relax and melt, from the top of your head down through your body to your feet, while your skeleton stands tall and flexible. This is confident relaxation – the perfect way to produce your best from your voice.

  • Breathe. A strong voice depends on air, so you need to breathe well. The first step is to get rid of your old air. Blow all your air out and, without collapsing your body, just relax – as you relax, your body fills with fresh air naturally. Practise relaxation and good breathing frequently.

  • Lower your tone firmly at the end of a sentence. Lowering your tone may seem a minor adjustment, but makes a surprisingly big difference to how you come across. As a general rule, a falling tone at the end of a sentence is used for statements and commands, and sounds final – as if you mean business. A rising tone indicates incompleteness or uncertainty, and is used in all types of questions. End low and you sound as if you’re confident of your own opinions.

  • Keep up your energy to the end. If your voice tails off at the end of a sentence, you sound as if you lack confidence in what you’re saying. If you speak with clear emphasis and keep up the energy in your voice to the end of your statement, people believe what you’re saying – simple as that.

  • Avoid weak additions to sentences. Try to avoid saying ‘okay’, ‘like’, ‘actually’, ‘kind of’, and of course ‘um’ and ‘er’. People put in the useless little extra words because they think it buys them thinking time. But you don’t need them. Take your time to think of the next thing you want to say and be happy with silence. You then sound confident.

  • Speak long phrases well. If you want to sound confident, you need to be able to speak long phrases as well as short ones. Practise speaking long phrases in a loud, energetic way. Doing so builds up your ability to breathe well and you sound as if you really mean what you say.

  • Believe in yourself. Self-belief isn’t so much about thinking you’re fantastic as about giving yourself permission to be you. When you’re uncertain about your speech, you tend to tightly control your delivery. But giving yourself permission to be you means allowing yourself to falter on occasion, say the wrong thing or show unexpected emotion. When you give yourself permission to be human, mistakes are much less likely to occur. You come across as someone who’s at ease.