Communicate with confidence

According to a study by Prezi, 70% of employees agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. The National Institute of Mental Health, however, reports that 73% of the populationsuffer from public speaking anxiety.  

So, how do you communicate with confidence?

Public speaking expert and founder of Voice in the Room, Jo Darby has some top tips on you can communicate with confidence:


  1. Get clear on your speaking goal.

It’s important to get really clear about why you’re speaking. What is the purpose of the speaking opportunity? What is the goal?. If you are not clear on this then it’s much harder for an audience to understand you or have confidence in what you’re saying. A good question to ask yourself when preparing your speaking is “what do I need to give my audience in order to fulfil my goal?” 

  1. Take your audience with you

Your role as a speaker is to serve your audience, and make sure you take them with you.  If an audience can’t follow you, then you’re going to lose them somewhere along the way. The best way to achieve this is by making sure your speaking has some structure. If you know that your message is really clear and you have structured it in a way that your audience can follow this will improve your confidence ten-fold.  

  1. Harness your nerves 

Nerves are inevitable; it’s how we manage them that makes the difference. The reason we often feel nervous is because we care. We care because we want our audience to understand what we’re going to say; we care because we feel strongly about our message; we care because we really want to inspire our team or, frankly, we care because we don’t want to look like a fool! 

 Often, we make false assumptions about our speaking and how an audience will respond.  We assume that they are going to be pick holes in our seminar, laugh at us or, worse still, not even bother listening; we assume that we’re going to fall flat on our face. The reality is usually very different. No-one goes to a talk thinking, ‘I really hope the person is dreadful, and that they trip up on their way to the stage or that they forget what they’re going to say’. It’s a good thing to remember when it’s your turn to step up. 

  1. Prepare, Practice and Pause

A lot of the time, we feel nervous because we aren’t comfortable or confident in what we’re saying or doing but preparation, practice and pausing can really boost your confidence. 

And, when it comes to managing your nerves, pausing can go a long way to helping. Initially it can feel quite a challenge to choose to stop speaking because then there is just silence and we feel all eyes on us. But pausing has lots of fantastic benefits.

Using the pause puts you in control, it allows you to breathe, and also to consider what you want to say next. Not only this but pausing also allows the audience time to process what you’re saying. Often, we speak too fast and we don’t  allow our audience time to process the information we’re presenting. If the audience can’t process what we’re saying, there is absolutely no point in speaking!

  1. Be you

We often think that if we are doing something that is “public speaking” like a presentation, talk or keynote speech we need to put on a ‘speaking voice’. As soon as we do that though we stop being genuine and the chances of our audience connecting with us decreases. Audiences connect with speakers who put their hands up and acknowledge that they’re human. Yes, you have important messages to convey, yes you are an expert, but your audience will best connect with you if you are authentic and show us a little of who you are. 

  1.   Remember…it doesn’t have to be perfect

We aren’t all Barack Obama, but that doesn’t matter. What matters most is saying yes. So many people don’t have a go at speaking, because they think that it’s got to be perfect. It doesn’t.  By putting your hand up and seeking out speaking opportunities, you will become more comfortable and, ultimately, more confident. It doesn’t have to be perfect, sometimes you just need to run with it.” 



About the author:

Jo Darby is the Founder of Voice in the Room, delivering public speaking and communication training that transforms teams and individuals into confident speakers and influential leaders, so they can step up and nail the meeting, presentation, or pitch with authenticity and impact. 

Voice in the Room works with a diverse range of clients in the private and public sector. 

Including John Lewis, Virgin Money, Newcastle Building Society, Northgate Plc, the NHS,  Newcastle University, Home Group, Dentsu Aegis.