Speeches always have two reactions in my experience. 1) The “OMG! I have to speak in front of everyone!” reaction or 2) The “I’ve got this in the bag!” reaction. The first reaction is the most common and it obviously has to do a lot with self-confidence. The second reaction is seen to be reserved for those self-assured types, but this isn’t necessarily true.
Overcoming Low Self-Confidence
1. Believe in what you’re saying: I find it’s easier to bring your confidence out when you really believe in what you’re saying. Confidence comes when you are comfortable with who you are, so if you believe in what you’re saying you’ll be comfortable in sharing it in front of everyone.
2. Relax! It’s just a task: What I like to do is forget about the marking for those 5-10 minutes I’m in front of everyone. For those 5-10 minutes I’m telling my peers what I know and how I know what I know. I remind myself it’s not the end of the world; it’s only a little hurdle on the road to getting out of this place! But in all seriousness, a speech is just a speech – you can’t die from saying speech, you can die of anxiety on the other hand.
3.Don’t look directly at your teacher or your peers: What I like to do when I’m doing a speech is look past my peers and my teacher. I occasionally glance at two or three, but my strategy is to have focus points on the back wall. The trick is illusion – pretend you’re looking at the audience, but in reality you’re looking at different points of the back wall. Make sure your gaze is no higher than the top of a person’s head. This takes time to master and become a natural tendency, so I suggest you practice. J
Breaking Down the Ego
1. Don’t get ahead of yourself: Remember that often the speech is only part of your task. Anyone can be a confident speaker, but the marking is often a balance of the delivery and the content. You can be as confident as a politician, but if you’re saying, “I like the colour pink,” which is irrelevant to the question at hand, then you might as well not speak at all. I’m saying this because I know what it’s like to deliver the best speech and still get the worst mark because I was overconfident about my ability and forgot about what I was saying in the first place.
2. Be sure to share your secrets to delivering a speech well: Don’t leave your friends in the dark. Help each other overcome shyness or cockiness that way you can all get the best mark that you deserve – plus it keeps you level headed.
3. It’s not a competition – so have fun: Like I said, for those 5-10 minutes, it’s not about how other people have performed, nor is it about ranking – it’s about you letting your peers know what you know and how you know it.
Remember: Speeches are often used to see what the class knows as a whole.