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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Wharton

6 tips on how to be more confident with public speaking.

Behind my smile is someone who is uncomfortable with public speaking, but is actually quite good at it, so it is something I have learnt to lean into.

There was a point in my life when I couldn’t even share my thoughts with a small group of peers but now I can stand up in front of hundreds of people. This doesn’t come naturally to many people and I have trained myself over the years to embrace speaking opportunities because it has really helped raise my profile, get on stages I never thought I would get on and set me apart from my peers.

Every time the moment approaches to stand on stage, the nerves kick in and I question why I agreed to do it. I was talking to a mentee this week about overcoming fear and this is the example I used, so in case it’s helpful to any of my network here's some of my top tips on tackling public speaking...

  • I spend a lot of time curating what I’m going to say, I’m not one of these people that can wing it and still speak eloquently. I draft and then redraft the key points I want to get across to the audience and spend hours rehearsing. I always take notes up in case I lose my train of thought but feel comfortable with what I’m going to say

  • As painful as it is, I watch back where I can. I don’t expect myself to be perfect but if I can refine how I speak, drop a few of the “erms” and control what I do with my hands then that can only be a good thing

  • I try not to outstay my welcome. I try and make everything I am saying is relevant and of value to the audience and don’t fill time for the sake of it

  • Wear something that you feel confident and comfortable in. I don’t want to be tripping up in heels on the way up to the stage, and I know I’ll get hot so I try and choose an outfit to compliment this and wear a bloody good lipstick

  • Don’t rush. I try and give myself at least 10 minutes beforehand to clear my mind, take some deep breaths, hydrate, have a nervous wee and think about what I’m going to say.

  • Start small. Take opportunities to present in a safe space, maybe an internal meeting? Then slowly build to bigger audiences and bigger stages. Being a panellist is a great way to share the stage which can be less daunting or I find presenting online can reduce the fear because you haven’t got an audience staring back at you. If you are a marketer then you could also join The Keynote Club.

Public speaking is one of those skills that for many of us takes practice, is a bit painful and removes us out of our comfort zone. At a recent conference, before a colleague took to the stage who was very nervous I gave her this advice - remember that the room is full of two types of people. One, those who are afraid of public speaking and will be in awe of you for doing it and those who can public speak, know how terrifying it is and will be rooting for you.

I’m now in a position where my confidence is at a level where I can offer public speaking as a service. I have come a long way from being the young woman too terrified of what people might think or of “getting it wrong” to share her voice. I would be delighted to inspire others to find their voice or share my journey, and you can find out more about my public speaking services here.


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