You know your message. You know your audience. You’ve practiced. Now, it’s show-time! How can you bolster your self-confidence in the few seconds before you speak? Even as you are walking up to deliver your opening lines?
I believe that confidence level can be affected by changing how you act, how you feel and what you believe—in any order! The usual order is to work on your belief and then that will change how you feel which in turn will change how you act. Well, I have found from my own experience and by observing others that belief, feelings and action are interrelated. In the few seconds before you speak, you need to focus on action!
Here are 5 steps you can take in the 10 seconds before you open your mouth to speak. Steps 1-3 can be done while walking up to speak, or in combination with steps 4 and 5:
1. Breathe. Take a deep, calming breath. Remember your brain needs oxygen!
2. Stand tall. Good posture not only helps with your breath support while you speak, it also makes you look more confident. I use a “string theory” to quickly improve my posture right before I speak. I imagine a string being pulled from the ceiling that connects the top of my head to my chest to my pelvis. Try it right now! It even works when you are sitting.
3. Mentally rehearse your opening sentence or two. Your opening should be ready to charge out of the gate with power.
4. Eye Contact. Look at your audience for a second or two, with the attitude of “this is a gift I’m giving to you” and a pleasant expression . Connect with their eyes. A confident speaker looks into the eyes of his or her audience.
5. Smile. As you continue for a couple more seconds with eye contact and before you actually speak, turn your pleasant expression into a broad, warm smile, the genuine kind that crinkles your eyes. A smile is a magnet to your audience.
And then, deliver your opening lines with confidence!