How do I improve my communication skills and confidence in public?

As a freelancer, you have to be a great communicator and appear confident in all you do. If I can do it, so can you … ready? let’s dive in.

There’s no better way than practice, to be honest. Here are 5 tips and tricks that you can use to help.

1. Find a mentor

This may sound a bit out of left field, but find someone who’s a little bit further down the career path than you are right now.

Sure you may want to hire a speaking coach to help with presentation or how to craft a talk in a professional manner, but having a mentor that knows exactly the path you are on will help you with your confidence and help you in making sure you are crafting the proper message to your audience.

Because it could be a similar audience and since they are further along, more than likely they’ve figured something out.

They can share their experiences with you, the pitfalls they fell into so you can avoid them as well as things that they’ve done that have worked well.

Since they are knowledgeable in your field, a mentor can also give you mock scenarios for you to practice and get more comfortable with the types of conversations and speaking that you’ll have to do in public.

2. Talk to 5 people

This is something I’ve heard from sales guys for years. It honestly does work though so that’s why I wanted to share it with you.

During any given day, when you see someone, anyone, passing by, smile and just talk with them by asking a question.

A simple question like “I really like your shoes, where’d you get them?” Or “Love the hat, where’d you get it?”

Simple, quick, and then move on.

This will shake off the awkwardness and nervousness of talking to someone new.

You’ll get better at being more of your natural self and your body language will get used to the energy of that moment and not appear like this is the first time you’ve ever spoken to a stranger.

3. Genuinely want to help and be curious

Confidence comes from knowing the subject matter. As a human, it’s our natural tendency for being curious and wanting to help others.

Communication is a 2-way street, so instead of thinking about what you are going to say next when the other person is talking, listen to them.

Pat Flynn reminds us to be an effective podcast host, to be curious.

Ask them “how did you feel about that?”

Ask them “why do you think that is?”

Be curious.

Being helpful is easy especially since you are the expert in the thing you know most about in the room.

A trick I learned early on is pretending I’m speaking about my topic to my Grandma. How could I make it such that she would understand the topic?

I don’t dumb it down, but I start with the basics and assume nothing.

4. Get out from behind the desk

This goes without saying, you have to interact human-to-human. Get out, grab lunch with people. Go to a meetup and interact with some folks.

Remember those 5 people you have to ask them about their hat, in order to see 5 people you need to leave your desk behind.

5. Speak at meetups first

Communication and confidence in public come by way of practice. First head out to meetups that are relevant to you. Then after attending a few of them, if they have speakers, ask the organizer if you can speak about your topic.

Meetups range in sizes obviously, but speaking to a small audience would allow you to gain confidence quickly.

It will cause you anxiety, I know, but once you are in your groove up there talking to 15, 25, maybe 50 people, you’ll start to feel as though you are talking to one.

I know this because I’ve been there, done that.

The confidence comes after you are done. When people come up to you and talk and interact once your talk is over. Some will just say “thanks” and that’ll build confidence for you.

As someone who has always said that I’d rather be the guy in the coffin than the person saying the eulogy, improving my communication and confidence in public has been a journey and still very much is to this day.

But if I can get up there in front of a room of 70+ people in NYC and talk, I know you can too.

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