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7 Little Tricks To Speak In Public With No Fear

7 Little Tricks To Speak In Public With No Fear

There was once a time when I had no fear. I was 11 years old and I entered a story telling competition. I was confidently telling the story and captured everyone’s attention until suddenly I heard a voice from just in front of the stage commenting about my nose. It’s totally disastrous from that moment on. I lost focus and forgot the script altogether. That’s the exact time that I began to have a certain fear of public speaking.

Over the years, I finally overcome my fear of public speaking. I can now speak at any function unprepared and even though the nervousness is still there, I am able to control it. It was not easy but I made it with some help from books and a few techniques I develop myself.

Hopefully these tricks will be able to help you as they had helped me in overcoming fear of public speaking.

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1) Admit nervousness

All you have to do is admit that you are a bit nervous speaking to your audience. When you do this, the audience will be more forgiving if your nervousness shows up later on. More importantly you will feel more relaxed now that they are not expecting a world-class presentation. Imagine their surprise when you gave them the best presentation ever despite your nervousness.

The best way to do this is by joking about it. Here’s an example of a good one. “On the way here, only God and I knew what I will be presenting. (looking a bit nervous) Now, only God knows.”

2) Redefine your audience

Redefine your audience generally means changing how you see your audience. Instead of seeing them as lecturers who are evaluating you, maybe you can convince yourself that they are all fellow students who are in queue to present after you. They are all equally nervous so there is no reason why you should be too.

Or perceive them as long lost friends that you haven’t seen for 10 years. This way you can maintain eye contact trying to figure out where you have seen him before. To the audiences, they will see a very friendly and personal presentation.

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Do not try to convince yourself that they are babies in diapers or that nobody is around as suggested by some books. It is very hard to convince yourself that no one is around when you are actually speaking to them.

3) Invest in visual aids

Imagine a presentation with beautiful PowerPoint slides and even more impressive notes given to each of your audience members. Half of the time, their eyes will not be on you. They will read through the notes and your fancy slides. This will help a lot as you can then speak to the people who are not looking at you. When they look at you, you just change your focus to other people who are not looking. Giving a speech to people who are not looking at you is always easier.

4) Make mistakes intentionally

This is another trick I encourage you to try. Once I “accidentally” dropped my notes on the floor, and while picking them up, I warned the audiences that the presentation will be more confusing after this. I heard some laughter from the floor.

The idea is to gain control of your audience. If you can make them laugh and be more interactive with you, your presentation will have that casual feel to it which will make it more memorable than others. Ultimately you will find it easier to do.

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5) Speak to one person at a time

One of the most terrifying things about public speaking is the crowd. Just by looking at the crowd, all in silence just to hear you speak, will send shivers down your spine. To overcome this, you just need to speak to one person at a time.

Choose one member of your audience and dedicate your whole presentation to him or her. Just assume that everyone else is not paying attention. When someone asks you a question, change your focus to that person and answer the question as if the two of you are in a coffee shop chatting away. Isn’t that the most relaxing way to handle a crowd?

6) Be impressive with personal opinion

Just like blogging, everyone can copy an article and paste it onto their blog. However, people read blogs not only to know about things happening but to know what that particular blogger’s opinion is on the matter.

When you speak or give a presentation, try to squeeze in a few of your personal thoughts on the matter. Of course these should be prepared early on. However, you should make it as if the ideas are “just in” while you are presenting. That will differentiate your presentation from the rest, and when you see the interested look on the faces of your audience, it will elevate your presentation to another new level, a level where you start having fun.

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7) Have fun experimenting

This is the most important tips of all. Have fun with the crowd. Try new ways to give the best presentation to your audience. Maybe experiment with a new funny approach, or walk around the hall instead of being static on the stage. Have fun with experimenting on human behavior and you will see that public speaking is not that bad after all.

Remember that there are no failures, only different results.

Have fun!

Photo Credit – Net Efekt

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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