Believing in yourself: the key to effective public speaking

Aug 30 2013 by Leila Witkin Print This Article

Most of us simply do not believe in ourselves enough. And that's why we lack the self-confidence to let our voices be heard loudly and clearly. Perhaps we ought to take a leaf out of Nelson Mandela's book.

When I was growing up, Nelson Mandela was a clerk in my father's law firm. Because of this, he had a tremendous influence on me from a very young age. I was privy to hearing him speak, even though he sometimes had only me, an audience of one, to listen and to hear what he had to say.

He had such a strong message in which he truly believed. This message was to be his ultimate downfall, but he never doubted himself or his behaviour because he was a man driven by passion and authenticity. He was prepared to get his message across even though he knew that it would probably one day find him incarcerated for speaking out and voicing those beliefs.

This may be an extreme example, but there is a key element here not to be missed. It is the one thing that resonates louder than anything else. All of us have passions and interests that encompass our everyday lives. Finding a way to give voice to those in a public forum, in front of an audience, should be sufficient enough to discovering a way of overcoming any lack of self-belief. So, it would seem that combining intense interests and passion is primary to opening the door.

As human beings, each and every one of us is unique and extraordinary; this is a part of the equation. Just imagine how many stories and experiences we have to share. Sadly, when called upon to speak up, few of us use our voices in public to do so. These potential gems, which also encourage us to discover our ultimate potential, remain untapped. It would appear that we really do not believe enough in ourselves and in our ability to successfully deliver the goods.

If the first step in the process of effective public speaking is tied to a subject or an idea about which one is passionate and to sharing those personal experiences with one's audience, then where does one go to frame that anecdotal material in a way that will grab the listener's attention and make them into believers as well?

There are some vital and significant steps that should be taken by anyone embarking on the journey of speaking in public. Of course, the first essential step is a strong belief in the message and information that one wants to deliver. In addition, there are several additional steps that, when taken in order, can be the additional keys to supporting a strong belief in oneself and ultimately to a successful public presentation:

  1. It begins with a re-programming of one's mind, to think positively about what it is said and done, which then provides the self-confidence to do it.
  2. Being pro-active and preparing the message to be shared.
  3. Knowing what the venue is in advance and anticipating any technical issues.
  4. Researching and knowing the audience demographically in order to choose suitable vocabulary for successful communication.
  5. Knowing the selected subject matter inside out
  6. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. Preparation is critical to a successful presentation.
  7. Dress appropriately according to the type of audience and venue
  8. Remember - Enjoy the experience!

Finally, if like Nelson Mandela we look deep into our souls and search for the meaning of our lives, we perhaps may become passionate about something that will drive us to eliminate any self-doubt giving us the permission to let our voices soar.

If our message speaks louder than our sub-conscious inner voice, we will feel strongly enough to share that message with others. That, which makes us believe in ourselves and in our ability to deliver the goods no matter what, is the testament to finding the key to self-confidence and self-awareness.


About The Author

Leila Witkin
Leila Witkin

Leila Witkin is an award-winning director and television producer in South Africa and has worked with individuals, groups and corporations on three continents as an executive and personal coach. She is the author of UnAFRAID, UnFRAZZLED & UnFROGettable!, a guide to overcoming the fears associated with public speaking.