Many people find public speaking daunting. They get butterflies in stomach, feel nervous and sometimes simply refuse to give a public presentation when they can get away with it. It doesn’t have to be this way and a great way to overcome the lack of confidence is to adopt the behaviour artificially.
Research shows that when you adopt a particular facial expression, such as smiling, you start to feel happy. In other words, the physical imitation of a smile can make you feel happy. The same applies to non-verbal gestures. If you stand straight, you are more likely to feel strong than if you slouch. If you are looking ahead while walking, you appear to me more energetic and determined than if you look at the ground. Using a similar approach, this exercise aims to boost people's confidence so they can present confidently to public.
Adopt a series of confidence boosting gestures, body language and behaviours to prepare yourself for public speaking.
What You Need
- An empty area where people can freely walk around.
- This exercise is carried out over several days prior to presenting to public. As a result, you will need to explain the exercise to delegates, get them to practice parts of it in the class to get the hang of it and then instruct them on the rest of the activities which they would need to carry out after the course in an ideal time.
- Explain the theory to delegates that by imitating a particular gesture (such as smiling) we can feel the emotion associated with it (happy).
- Ask everyone to stand in the empty area. Line them up so that they can walk in parallel without hitting each other.
- Explain that the following exercise is useful to put them into a positive frame of mind. They can use it when they are about to meet an important person or face the public when giving a presentation, talk or an interview.
- Tell them the following instructions:
- Relax your body and distribute your weight equally on both your feet.
- Think of the following and repeat them to yourself in your mind for the duration of the exercise:
- “I am cool”
- “I am calm”
- “I am sexy”
- “I am the best”
- Shrug your shoulders back and walk confidently.
- Once you reached the other side of the room, turn back and walk several times back and forwards in the area while walking firmly with your head held high, shoulders held back, arms relaxed on your side and not in front of you and constantly repeating the above statements to yourself.
- To get everyone used to it, you can get them to state this aloud first which would make the experience more memorable (expect laughs) and then ask them to state it in their mind.
- After a few minutes stop everyone and explain the next part which they need to carry out after the course. Find a busy part of town and walk on the sidewalk with the same pose as you practiced now while stating the above statements in your mind. There is only rule you need to follow; do not get out of the way of anyone or any group. Walk confidently right in the middle of the sidewalk and do not give way.
- To do this, it helps to think in your head that:
- “I own the world. This is my sidewalk, so get the hell out of my way.”
- “Clear out. You don’t want to mess with me.”
- Repeat this walk of confidence exercise for a few days. You will need to be able to walk through a group rather than round a group of people, and do it confidently and with pleasure. You can say “excuse me”, but you cannot say “sorry”. Let’s repeat that again; saying “sorry” is not allowed. There is nothing there to be sorry about. By the end of the third day of repeating this exercise, you will start to see that something is different in the way you feel about yourself. Nothing has changed in the world and certainly no harm is done by walking down a sidewalk. However, you have managed to reprogram your mind to think differently about yourself. With this new positive, confident, world-owning mindset you can now face a demanding audience and deliver a brilliant and confident speech.
Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes
Activity: 5 minutes
Group Feedback: 0 minutes
To Tutor: If there is a second course to attend after they have gone through the exercise and the public speaking, get them to share their experience with each other.