I read Praba’s commentary today about how courage and confidence comes from within, from “tracing back their upbringing without censorship”.
Sounds terribly New Age to me and it differs drastically to my own experiences as a public speaker and university debater.
There really isn’t a secret formula to it. Of course, being well prepared, knowing the subject matter inside and out does help, but there will invariably be times when you just don’t know what you have to talk about and still be able to present it in a convincing manner. How do you maintain your air of confidence then?
There’s where self-belief and a little known trick i call, “speaking without saying anything” comes along. What i’ve discovered is public speaking follows one of physic’s indisputable laws: an object in motion remains in motion.
The moment you break down and lapse into silence, you stop speaking; unfortunately, this also usually leads to your brain shutting down as well. To get started again is ridiculously difficult, and awkward. That’s where we get those “awkward silences” from; its a breakdown in flow of words and thoughts. So keep on talking, but try not to say anything, or at least anything of consequence. You don’t want to commit yourself to a mistake of saying something wrong; better to say something no one understands (but pretends to) than to say something everyone knows is wrong!
What saves you? Your mind usually does. While your mouth is buying your brain a few precious seconds, you’ll be surprised how much actually goes on in your head during that time. Probably neurons go into overdrive, and usually new ideas start appearing in your head, ready to be plucked and delivered down to your mouth once more.
The moment you realize that you can pull this off will be the moment you never need to fear speaking in public again.