4 steps to gaining confidence as a public speaker

In most careers, at some point you’ll stand before a crowd—maybe six people, maybe 1,600—and have to deliver the goods. Own the moment, and make the most of this golden opportunity.

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You don’t really have a choice. To realize your potential in the business world, you must improve your communication skills.

When someone asks how to get better at public speaking, I offer this quote by Elbert Hubbard:

The only way to learn to speak is to speak and speak, and speak and speak, and speak and speak and speak.

It’s true that the only way to become good at anything is by repetition, until it becomes second nature, but there are many things you can do to become more effective speaking in front of audiences.

The starting point is to pick a subject you really care about—something that has had an extraordinary impact on you and that you would like to share with others who could benefit from your knowledge.

With this, you have a springboard to propel you into your first public talk.

Prepare and fine-tune

The second part of public speaking is preparation. It’s not unusual to spend hours, days and even weeks preparing for a talk.

The third part is practicing and improving your presentation skills. If you have an audio recorder or, even better, a video camera, record yourself giving the talk from beginning to end. Then listen to it or watch it, and make notes on how you could make it better.

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