Building Confidence and
Overcoming Fear
Communication Skills
What is confidence?
• Confidence is the feeling you have
when you believe that you are capable
of handling a situation successfully.
• You are not born with confidence!
• It is something that anyone can
• Confidence is the framework of
effective oral communication.
What is stage fright?
• Stage fright, or communication apprehension,
means that a person is afraid to speak in
• Surveys indicate that 80 to 90 percent of
Americans admit to feeling extremely
uncomfortable about public speaking.
• A phobia is an irrational fear.
– Public speaking cannot harm you! Therefore,
if you have an ongoing fear of it, then you have
a phobia, which is irrational and can be
Common Physical Symptoms of
Communication Apprehension
Upset stomach
Flushed face
Fast heartbeat
Shortness of breath
Excessive perspiration
Wobbly legs
Why? – The body is being flooded with energy,
or adrenaline, because the person is perceiving
an emergency situation.
Why do we get stage fright?
• The body is flooded with energy
(adrenaline) because we sense an
emergency situation.
• We don’t like to be judged.
• We don’t think our ideas are worth
listening to, we don’t think we can express
our ideas well, or we fear the audience
won’t like us while we are speaking.
• We don’t feel prepared.
So how can we overcome
a fear of speaking?
Think your way out of
uncomfortable feelings. Let your
mind overcome your emotions!
• Perception is how you see things.
• How you perceive a situation when you feel
fear is often very inaccurate.
• An inaccurate perception of a situation can
cause a person to blow things out of
proportion, or make a problem seem greater
than it is.
• We must learn to see things as they are rather
than how our fears might lead us to see them.
Perception of Your Audience
• You may think that your audience
automatically knows that you’re nervous.
• Consider this:
Studies on how well an audience perceives
anxiety should comfort nervous speakers.
Researchers have found that most report noticing
little or no anxiety in a speaker. Even when
individuals are trained to detect anxiety cues and
are instructed to look for them, there is little
correlation between their evaluations and how
anxious speakers actually felt. (Ch. 2, p. 33)
Perception of Your Speech
• Consider it your opportunity to share
something meaningful (your message).
• It is not a performance! No Hollywood
screen tests here!
• The speech is an extension of yourself. It
exemplifies your personality, feelings,
likes, and dislikes.
• The audience will not “judge” or
“score” you!
Perception of Yourself
• Don’t compare yourself to others.
• You don’t have to be perfect!
• Don’t equate a few mistakes with
total failure.
• Mistakes are an opportunity to
learn and improve!
• Self-esteem, or confidence, is the result of
discovering who you are, with all of your
strengths and weaknesses.
• We are all unique and have a lot to offer one
Building Confidence
• Have something worthwhile to
• Do your research and develop
your content.
• Use a variety of sources (books,
websites, magazines,
newspapers, interviews, etc.).
• Use a variety of appeals
(logical, emotional, and ethical).
• Have some type of an outline that is easy for
both you and your audience to follow.
• Have a main idea, clear areas of analysis, and
supporting evidence that fits the topic.
• You always need:
– An introduction that leads to
– A thesis statement,
– Support, details, and elaboration that proves your
thesis statement,
– And a conclusion that summarizes and provides an
ending appeal
• Jot down your ideas in a brief, directed
(preferably outlined) form.
• Note cards to guide your speech rather
than a fully written-out speech!
• Avoid having too many words on one card
and having too many note cards.
• Do not read to your audience!
• Key words and phrases to remind you.
• Notes cannot substitute for preparation!
• Showing friendliness will encourage your
audience to give positive feedback.
• Smile and use your nonverbals.
• Make eye contact.
• Talk to individuals (Don’t view the
audience as a mass of faceless people.)
• Getting off to a good start is essential in
building confidence.
• Smile and be positive from the moment
you walk to the front.
• Be well-dressed and
• Don’t detract from your
• Practice. Practice. Practice.
• Try to simulate the real
• Become acquainted with
your voice and how to use it.
• Practice looking at people
while delivering your
• Practice your gestures.
• Practice movement.
• Know how it feels to feel that way.
• Empathy is a sincere understanding of the
feelings, thoughts, and motives of others.
• How is your audience feeling? What is
important to them?
• Make an attempt to “put yourself in their
• Try to find common ground with your
• Apply some originality.
• Gives confidence to have something new
to say.
• Take a different approach or slant to the
• Use a clever anecdote,
meaningful quote, artwork,
charts or graphs, or tell a
personal story.
• Believe in what you say.
• Some speech topics can be boring unless
you add your own special dimension of
personal conviction. (Create a value
statement out of a “boring” topic.)
• If you are confident about the importance
of your message, then your audience is
more likely to be persuaded.
Get fired up!
You need energy!
Great outlet for nervous energy.
Intellectual enthusiasm comes from the
sharpness of mind that your research
• Physical enthusiasm comes from your
energetic nonverbal communication.