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How to speak confidently in public


Would you rather be bitten by a spider than speak in public? Why public speaking does not have to carry such venom

 If you google public speaking, one of the most common words relating to it is “fear.”  Consistently, glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, ranks as one the global population’s top fears.

But, public speaking doesn’t have to be quite so painful—and, if you approach public speaking with the right preparation, you can even be confident before, during and after you step up to the podium.

Good public speaking, according to public speaking expert Vanessa Ugatti ((bit about her credentials in here)), is largely about what happens before the speech delivery.

Long-term preparation: practicing how you say it

“Public speaking is an extension of everyday conversation and therefore is about the sharing of ideas, thoughts and feelings, “ Mrs Ugatti says.  “Communication is only successful if the message has been received and understood.”

Mrs Ugatti emphasises that good preparation for a speech  requires that you identify your key messages and your end goal.  Ask yourself, what messages am I really trying to get across?  What is the goal of this speech?  Once you’ve identified what the purpose of the speech is, it will be easier to write your presentation in a clear way.

It’s then equally important to practise aligning what you say with how you say it. 

So, even if it seems silly and unnecessary to practise standing up straight in front of a mirror, making eye contact with an imaginary audience, and rehearsing your tone of voice for an empty room, it is important for preparation.  

“Most of your non-verbal and vocal communication is unconscious,” she explains, “so it’s important to be aware of your habits before you present.”

“If what you say doesn’t match how you say it, your audience will believe your tone of voice or your body language over what you say,” says Mrs Ugatti.  Running through your posture, eye contact and tone of voice before a speech will help it seem more natural and ensure your message is understood.

Short-term preparation: confidence is just a state of mind

When the time for the speech is drawing nearer, it is important to get into the right place mentally and emotionally.

Mrs Ugatti says that “confidence is just a state of mind.  It’s not dependent on external circumstances.  It’s a choice.  You must think positively about the fact that you can give this speech.  The only way to change your thoughts is to consciously make a decision to change them.” 

And, in particular, consciously rejecting that fear requires you to change how you think about one of the sources of your anxiety:  the audience. Indeed, how many times are your public speaking worries centred on the imagination of a combative audience? 

“If we’re feeling fear,” says Mrs Ugatti, “it could be due to a perception of the people in front of us.”

“What if we told ourselves that the audience is made of lovely, kind, wonderful human beings?  And, that, we have something that we can give them?” Mrs Ugatti asks.  “It then becomes about serving, because I, as the speaker, have something to offer.”

Mrs Ugatti continues that nurses are in an especially good position to try this technique.  She advises, “try to see the audience as potential patients.  If your intention is to give them your best, you can’t be fearful.”

At the podium  

Before you go onto the stage, take some deep breaths.  “This will go a long way to calm some of the psychological responses which are triggered by fear,” says Mrs Ugatti. 

She also advises to write on your notes in big letters a reminder to breathe deeply while you speak.

If you begin to be afraid, remember that confidence is a state of mind.  Mrs Ugatti’s mantra is, “as these thoughts enter my mind, so I will let them go.”  Say that a minimum of three times.

And, realise that ultimately, confidence in public speaking comes from confidence in yourself and in your message. 

Mrs Ugatti enthuses that “underneath the conditioning and the rubbish people have experienced in their lives, there is a star.  Preparation before a speech is about creating the right habits to help the star to emerge and the conditioning to drop away.”

Mrs Ugatti says, “you don’t have to be a perfect speaker for people to listen to you. Express yourself clearly, confidently and genuinely.”

So her advice is to prepare and speak from the heart. 

Key points for good public speaking:

  1. Identify key messages and end goals.
  2. Practise tone of voice, posture and eye contact.
  3. Think positively about your audience.
  4. Release negative thoughts. 
  5. Take some deep breaths.

Vanessa Ugatti helps groups, teams and individuals to communicate with greater clarity, credibility and confidence so that their messages are heard and remembered, they inspire their teams and achieve their desired goals.

To contact her:


Readers' comments (4)

  • What lovely words of wisdom. Thank you for sharing them with us.

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  • Does that work, for people who find public speaking intimidatiing ?

    I can't tell, because I was never too bothered by speaking in public.

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  • Comment to 'anonymous' 26/6/12:
    Being 'bothered' means you care, and the nerves are just because you want your message to be heard.
    Don't be scared people, but do 'be bothered'...

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  • MeThinks

    Anonymous | 27-Jun-2012 8:30 am

    I think anonymous was using bothered, to mean scared by. So the question is still interesting, because some people are indeed terrified of standing up in front of a room full of people, and speaking to the room.

    Does the advice, work, for those people ? I think it is pretty obvious, that most public speakers are likely to be committed to their point, if they chose to speak without being pushed into it - but being phobic about getting your point across, would probably stop you from standing up and talking.

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