The 3 P’s to Being a Confident Public Speaker

If you hear my mother tell it, I’ve never had a fear of speaking and I haven’t shut up since I started talking at 2 years of age. It’s very natural for me. No one is a perfect communicator, but by many accounts I’m pretty good at it. It’s even my #3 strength according to the StrengthsFinder inventory.

I was recently asked about how I manage the fear of public speaking. Well, I don’t fear public speaking. That’s why I’m good at it. However, I’m only human. And I do get butterflies right before a professional presentation, a keynote address or a training workshop. But when we’re talking about paid gigs and my professionalism, preparation trumps nerves. 

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According to a Gallup poll, 

40% of respondents indicated they feared public speaking in front of an audience. More Americans dread public speaking than going to the doctor, which was feared by only 9% of the respondents.

There is no better boost to our confidence than knowing what the heck you’re talking about. The best way to do so is to prepare. No matter what it is, if you don’t study your stuff, then why would you believe you could do a good job? You gain confidence by doing!

What’s the best way to get to Carnegie Hall? My twelve-year old knows the answer before I finish the question. “Practice,” he says, with a role of the eyes! And I don’t just mean for you to review and recite the presentation multiple times out loud. Of course that is important. But you need to do it in the mirror. Are there certain quirky facial expressions you make that could be distracting? How about recording yourself? Listen to your inflections and be mindful of your filler words (e.g. umm, uh, like). 

According to the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, almost 40 percent of our actions each day are the result of habits, not decisions. 

Habits are formed when we practice them either consciously or subconsciously. Public speaking requires conscious practice. 

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The combination of preparation with practice boosts self confidence ten-fold. But that’s not the end of it. If you were invited to speak on a topic, then guess what? YOU are the expert. Otherwise, you would not have been asked.

So the third P is probably the hardest, but most important. Pontificate. While the term has a negative connotation, in this case, go for it. You are, after all, sharing your point of view and attempting to convince the audience that what you have to sell is the best thing since wifi. Embrace your role as the expert. As an expert, you are passionate about the topic, making it easy to be authentic and engaging. Watch any Ted Talk and it will soon be clear that the speakers are prepared, practiced and clearly dogmatic about what they are sharing.

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If you’re still worried about your next presentation at work or simply want to be a better public speaker contact me at We can practice outside of Carnegie Hall.

Other resources

5 Winning Strategies of People with Mental Toughness

Why Self Confidence Is More Important than You Think

Stage Fright