Speaking with confidence is a lot easier than you think. Yes, really! Speaking with flair and flamboyance may take a little practice, but standing up in front of an audience feeling poised and sure of yourself is remarkably easy when you know the Four Principles of Practical Positive Speaking.
First Principle: Your stated purpose determines your desired outcome.
Why are you giving this speech or presentation?
Are you promoting a new product? Introducing yourself and/or your business at a networking meeting? Presenting a guest speaker at a luncheon? Making a toast at your son's wedding?
What is the result you wish to achieve as a result of this speech?
Do you want the audience to rush out and buy your product? Take your business card and give you theirs? Do you want to pay proper respect to your guest speaker with a big build-up that will have the audience panting to hear what she has to say? Do you want to tell your son and his new wife how happy they've made you without making a fool of yourself?
No matter who your audience is, the goal you wish to achieve by this talk will determine your purpose for giving it. When you know your purpose and what outcome you desire, you've mastered the first big step to speaking with confidence.
Second Principle: Your expectations determine your choices.
How do you choose exactly what to say?
The expectations you have for this talk will tell you what to say. If your goal is to sell your product, you'll choose the jargon of your industry that will highlight its best points and make it sound absolutely irresistible.
If your goal is to sell yourself, you'll choose your favorite anecdotes as if you're talking to a friend. When your goal is to 'sell' another speaker, you'll choose the points from her resume that will make her sound most interesting and appealing.
When your goal is to express your love to people near and dear to you, you'll choose the memories, family catch words and feelings that are stored in your heart.
It's easy to choose what to say if you're clear on the reaction you expect from your talk. When you know what you expect from your audience, you'll automatically choose the most desirable words to make it happen.
Third Principle: Knowledge generates power.
What do you already know and what do you need to find out?
The more knowledge you have about your subject and your audience, the more powerful you'll feel. The more powerful you feel, the more confident a speaker you'll be.
If you want your audience to buy your product, are you clear on its benefits to everyone who's listening? Do you know the answers to all the questions they might ask? Are you telling them everything they need to know to make a decision right now?
If you're networking, are you putting your best foot forward? Do you know your most appealing qualities, your most positive truths about yourself, and are you sharing them in a straightforward, natural, friendly way?
If you're introducing another speaker, do you know enough about him and his accomplishments to speak about him as if he were a friend you've known for ages? Are you comfortably prepared in advance to give the most exciting points without having to refer to his bio on the spot?
If you're toasting your son and his new wife, are you sharing those memories and feelings that are the most meaningful and dear to you and your loved ones?
The more you're absolutely sure of your subject, the more power you have. When the spotlight is on you, you're in charge. Your audience will love you in direct relation to how knowledgeable you appear. The more expert you are about your subject, the more powerful you are as a speaker. Knowledge generates power. If you have the knowledge, you're the most powerful person in the room.
Fourth Principle: Knowing gives confidence.
Where does confidence come from?
Confidence comes from knowing that we have what it takes to succeed at whatever we're doing at the moment. The more we know, the more confidence we are likely to have.
Sounds too simple to be true, but it really works! When we know our purpose and the outcome we desire, when we know what reaction we expect from our audience, when we're an expert on our subject and feel the power that comes from a wealth of knowledge, we find that confidence comes almost of its own accord. Sure, we may still have a butterfly or two before we actually open our mouths to speak. That's normal. It's even desirable. Those butterflies are spurts of adrenaline revving us up, sending a burst of energy through our whole being, adding the chemical component to the psychological feeling of knowing that we're able to do the job at hand powerfully and well. Put the chemical and the psychological together with the power of knowledge: that's confidence!
Practice the Four Principles of Practical Positive Speaking and you'll never have to worry about finding your confidence. It will be there naturally!