Speaking with confidence and authority does not mean you need to talk AT your audience, nor does it mean that you need to be a “know-it-all.” You do not need to have all the answers either.
You DO have to ask the right questions.
Here are a few things that show confidence and authority to the audience:
1. Make eye contact with each person in the room, take a deep breath (all the way to your toes), and speak to them as you would a person over a cup of coffee. This will lead you to just try and connect rather than impress.
2. Remember, it’s not about how intelligent the audience sees you, but rather how intelligent you make your audience fee. Acronyms and terminology they may not understand undermines the audience and makes you seem arrogant.
3. Make sure they understand the context of what you are saying and why it is important to THEM.
4. Demonstrate understanding of their industry, their company, personal situation, by giving examples and asking questions.
5. Don’t try to have all the answers, but make sure you ask the right questions. The more thought provoking, insightful, and intriguing you are as a speaker, the more credible you will be to your audience.
Remember that your audience, not only listens to you, but they also get a “feeling” off of you. You want them to “feel” the authority which means you don’t need to list all your credentials but make what you are saying digestible and actionable by them.
How fear can block your speaking
I find it ironic that the number one fear is supposed to be public speaking–it is even above death! As Jerry Seinfield said, “That means you would rather be in the coffin then giving the eulogy!”
So where does the fear come from and how can you manage it better?
A study by the University of Michigan revealed:
- 60% of our fears are totally unwarranted. That means the things you fear don’t even come to pass.
- 20% of our fears are based on the past. That means they are out of your control.
- 10% of our fears are so petty that they make no difference at all.
- Of the remaining 10%, only 4-5% are real and justifiable fears.
Literally 95% of what you worry about does nothing more than occupy your mind, suck your energy and hamper your abilities.
Here is a quick formula to get rid of fears:
Ask yourself the following three questions-
- What is the worst that will happen?
- What is the best that will happen?
- What most likely will happen?
Make a quick contingent plan for the worst that can happen, then spend your energy on what most likely will happen. Once your brain knows there is a contingency plan for the worst that can happen it will often let that go.
If you can’t even deal with the worst that can happen, then don’t take action!
This quick path will calm your brain and let you focus your energy proactively.