Appearing confident when addressing a crowd can be nerve-wracking. It isn’t because you aren’t prepared, but because you’re conscious of not disappointing the audience and yourself.
A lot of people around you give you a lot of tips and advice on how to prepare for a presentation, but they don’t really touch on how to be confident in front of all those eyeballs.
It’s like this; You wonder if you have the ability to carry your audience along so that they don’t feel bad. Eventually, you get bothered because you don’t want people to tell that you are nervous. In the end, you spend the first 10-15 minutes trying to calm yourself down. Before you know it, the entire presentation is over.
Below are tips on how to be confident when addressing a crowd:
1. Start by preparing and organizing your speech
I know that you know this, but I cannot overemphasize the place of preparation. When you know that you are fully prepared in every way possible, it gets you closer to your goal of being confident when you address the crowd.
I get it! You might still experience stage fright, but being prepared will help you feel confident when addressing people. All that will be left is dealing with your ability to face the crowd.
2. Practise the first minute of your speech or presentation over and over
You can choose to start your presentation with a story, a quotation or an introduction of yourself and what you do. Well, that’s not the point. The point is whatever you choose to be your opening remark, practise it over and over until you can say it confidently without looking at your notes or slides to remember. It’ll create a great first impression of you to your audience. When you can tell that your audience likes you, it’ll make you more confident to give your speech.
3. Speak slowly
A lot of us tend to speak quickly when we are nervous. The implication of this is that we rush the entire presentation and finish too quickly. Most times, we don’t give enough room for the audience to grasp what we are saying.
To avoid this, however, speak slowly, and learn to pause from time to time during your presentation. Doing this will help you think and put your thoughts together properly. Don’t rush your speech. When you speak slowly, you’ll feel calm and organized. That way, you will be confident when addressing a crowd.
4. Make your audience laugh
I suggest starting your speech by cracking a joke. You see, one reason why you might be nervous is that just as you don’t know what to expect from the audience, they equally do not know what to expect. So, you have the first 2-3 minutes to show them what they stand to enjoy listening to you.
Making your audience laugh lightens the mood in the room, and makes everyone, including you feel relaxed. When you ate relaxed, you’ll be confident when addressing a crowd.
Here’s a tip. How about opening your presentation with a joke about yourself? Joke lightly about something you had done in the past while addressing an audience. The aim is to make the crowd see as a part of them. You’re not trying to be different or perfect because you are up on the stage. You are just like the rest of them. This will help the crowd open up to you, and you’ll become a lot more confident when addressing them.
5. Focus more on people who are nodding
It can be extremely nerve-wracking when you feel disconnected from your audience. So, how about focusing on those that seem to be paying attention to what you are saying? Look out for people who are nodding and agreeing with what you are saying and pay attention to them. That way, you will feel a sense of reassurance and confidence. The more confident you sound, the more people you will attract. So, start with the people who are interested, get confident and then attract more people. It’s that simple.
The next time you have to speak to a large audience, follow the tips above you should be confident when addressing them.
See also how to deliver a presentation.