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February 5, 2024

5 Strategies to Speak with Confidence on the Virtual Stage

Introduction

Picture this: You're perched before your webcam, heart pounding like a sledgehammer, staring at your screen speckled with unknown faces. Your carefully crafted presentation and outline (or script) sit open, yet you feel flooded with self-doubt and anxiety.

You wonder where your confidence has gone. Why, you ask yourself, is it so easy for other people to speak with confidence on the virtual stage? Rest assured! It’s not just you who is experiencing this tension.

Causes of Public Speaking Anxiety

In a 2008 research analysis article, Dr. James C. McCroskey's revealed that approximately 70% of the US population experiences high anxiety and fear around public speaking. Public speaking anxiety, also known as glossophobia, stems from a complex interplay of factors.

Today, the lack of confidence to speak in-person or on the virtual stage still prevails, as noted by the National Social Anxiety Center that nearly 75% of individuals worldwide are affected.

The fear of negative evaluation, scrutiny, and judgment tops the list, often fueled by past experiences or social comparisons. Other culprits include imposter syndrome, fear of failure, self-doubt about one's expertise, and a lack of self-confidence.

While physiological responses like increased heart rate and sweating can further exacerbate the anxiety, the virtual stage introduces new challenges. Learning new apps, technical glitches, and the absence of face-to-face interaction, can intensify anxiety and challenge one’s confidence to speak on the virtual stage.

Taming Anxiety to Prepare to Speak with Confidence

While fear might be inevitable, its grip doesn't have to be. Before delving into methods to building you confidence to speak on the virtual stage, it is important to mention that it is important to bring your level of anxiety down. The frees up the mind to focus on building confidence rather than fleeing from fear. Here are three easy methods to help you reduce your anxiety.

  • Breathing Techniques - Incorporating deep, mindful breathing before and during a presentation helps calm nerves and enhances focus. Specifically, practice diaphragmatic breathing to slow your heart rate and activate your body's relaxation response. 
  • Positive Self-Talk - Replace self-criticism with encouraging words and reality-based affirmations. Remind yourself of your expertise and past successes. Instead of saying "Everyone will judge me," tell yourself, "My message is valuable and has the potential to help others."
  • Positive Visualization - In addition to positive talk, visualization is powerful tool to reduce anxiety.   Visualize a successful presentation regularly. Imagine delivering your presentation smoothly and confidently, basking in the appreciation of your audience. This positive reinforcement rewires the brain, mitigating anxiety.

How to Speak with Confidence on the Virtual Stage

1. Embracing a Growth Mindset

Remember, fear is a natural human response, but it shouldn't dictate your actions. Reframe your self-doubt and anxiety as excitement that is a healthy dose of adrenaline propelling you towards your goals. Focus on the positive impact you can make, and channel your nervousness into a passionate delivery that resonates with your audience.

2.  Ditch the Scripts, Embrace Storytelling

Harness the power of storytelling to connect with the audience. Today's audiences crave connection, authenticity, and stories that resonate. Draw inspiration from your own experiences, struggles, and triumphs and weave into your virtual event as captivating narratives. This personalized approach not only fosters trust but also allows your unique voice to shine through.

3. Rehearse Like a Pro (But Not a Robot)

Practice isn't glamorous, but it's the cornerstone of confidence. Rehearse your presentation aloud, paying attention to pacing, vocal variety, and body language. Record yourself and watch the playback to identify areas for improvement. But remember, practice doesn't equal robotic recitation. Infuse your rehearsals with energy and personality, mimicking the natural flow of real-time conversation. This also a good time to familiarize yourself with the virtual platform you will be using.

4. Find Your Support System

Building confidence thrives on shared experiences and encouragement. Surrounding yourself with a supportive network will boost your confidence and provide invaluable feedback and guidance. Make sure you at least one friend or trusted colleague available on the day of your virtual event to be your support person. This person can handle the waiting room, chat, and the occasional annoying person so you can focus on your message and providing value and impact.

5. Focus on Impact, Not Perfection

It's easy to get caught up in the minutiae of all the prep details to obtain perfection. Release that pressure. Acknowledge that imperfections, whether technical glitches or stumbling over words, make you human and relatable. Remember, your audience isn't there to nitpick. They're eager to learn, be inspired, and connect with your message. Shift your focus from flawless delivery to the impact you want to make. Focus on your participants transformation and growth along with your genuine desire to serve and empower.

Conclusion

Stepping onto the virtual stage, whether it's a webinar or a podcast interview, can be daunting. But remember, the rewards are immense. By embracing a growth mindset, crafting your authentic voice, and harnessing the power of practice and community, you can transform your virtual appearances into springboards for connection, impact, and client growth. Are you ready to unleash your authentic voice and create lasting impact for your future clients?

Sources

1. McCroskey, James C. 2008. “Communication Apprehension: What Have We Learned in the Last Four Decades.” Human Communication 12 (2): 157–71. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=6c8abb55b4fbe0e7be285c46c2de534519c437dd

2. Manetta, Katy. 2022. “Overcoming Social Anxiety by Embracing Uncertainty.” National Social Anxiety Center (blog). August 18, 2022. https://nationalsocialanxietycenter.com/2022/08/18/overcoming-social-anxiety-by-embracing-uncertainty/.

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5 Strategies to Speak with Confidence on the Virtual Stage

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Jennifer


Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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