If public speaking makes you nervous, you might notice a few things when you get up in front of a crowd.
Your voice might break, your hands might start to shake, and before you know it, you’ve forgotten everything you wanted to say. Sound familiar?
Luckily, you can learn how to speak confidently with an AI speech coach like Yoodli. Yoodli analyzes your video for the filler words you use and how often you use them, and even your body language to give you an idea of your weak points and help you build your confidence.
Here’s how you can do that:
In addition to practicing with Yoodli, here are our seven best tips to speak with confidence.
1. Be prepared.
One of the best ways to be prepared for a speech or any public speaking situation is to practice. Whether you’re practicing and analyzing your speech through Yoodli or in front of a mirror, you’ll want to practice everything, including:
- Your actual speech
- Your facial expressions and body language (we’ll take a more in-depth look at this below)
- Your transitions
- Any visual aids you plan to use, if any
It’s also a good idea to visit the place you’ll be speaking beforehand. Don’t drink any caffeinated drinks — such as coffee or energy drinks — before your speech. These can make you more anxious.
2. Don’t be afraid to take a pause.
There’s nothing wrong with pausing during your speech. In fact, taking a pause can be a very helpful tool for public speakers. Although you might feel like your audience will notice you’re nervous if you pause, it’ll seem natural, and your listeners can take a second to process what you’ve just said.
To speak with confidence, it’s also a good idea to have planned pauses in addition to impromptu ones. For example, pause after asking any questions or when transitioning to another part of your speech.
When you pause to think before you speak, you’ll also be avoiding filler words — like “uh,” “um, and “like.” To find out which filler words you use most and how often, try recording yourself on Yoodli beforehand.
3. Use appropriate body language.
Body language is huge, and it’s a powerful component of giving a successful speech.
Body language — like hand gestures, posture, and facial expressions — can have a direct effect on the audience. Seeing natural body language can make them more comfortable while at the same time setting the tone of your speech.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure you:
- Smile (when appropriate — this might not be appropriate when you’re talking about very serious subjects)
- Relax your face
- Move around and take control of the space
- Maintain eye contact
4. Watch your pace.
It’s easy to start speaking faster when you’re speaking in public, especially if you’re feeling anxious or excited.
Unfortunately, speeding through a speech makes it clear to the audience that you’re nervous. It might also make it more difficult for them to absorb your message, especially if your pace is too fast for the audience to keep up with.
When you practice, practice at the pace you envision speaking at. This can help you speak with confidence when it comes to the actual date.
Watching some sample speeches on Yoodli might help you get a grasp of what an appropriate pace sounds like (although you can also just record your own speech to see exactly what your pace is).
5. Try a little humor.
Although not every speaker is comfortable with it, humor can be an awesome tool.
Using some light comedy can actually help engage your audience and even make your speech or presentation more memorable. It can also lighten the mood or make you seem more “human” when public speaking.
Still, there is a risk of being funny. If you make an inappropriate or offensive joke, it can turn your audience off completely and destroy any prior trust you’d established with that group.
For additional reading, check out these top 10 tips for being funny when you speak.
6. Be positive.
Positivity goes a long way. Going into your speech, visualize the talk going exactly as you want it. If you envision yourself failing, embarrassing yourself, or the like, that can negatively influence your upcoming speech.
You might be able to draw on past success. Think of a time when you spoke in public and absolutely nailed it. It’s proof you can do it!
Still, even when your goal is to speak with confidence, it’s normal to have some negative feelings. Try your best to replace any negative thoughts with positive ones.
7. Don’t worry if you make mistakes.
Mistakes are normal, too! They’re part of the human experience. Although you don’t want to envision negative things, it’s a good idea to be prepared for a mistake or two — that way, you won’t be shocked and thrown off if it happens. Plus, you can have a plan for if you do make a mistake.
Just know, it’s completely OK to laugh at yourself. That might even make you feel more comfortable. It can also help to disperse any nervous energy you still have.