How to become a public speaker in 1 year — Step 1: Build confidence

Catt Small
4 min readJun 27, 2016

If you’re like me, public speaking naturally makes you uncomfortable. If you’re not, you are a lucky individual and should probably skip this section. Please note that I’m shaking my fist at you, confident person, as you read this. Just kidding. Not really.

Before you can speak confidently on a stage, you must do three things:

  1. Learn to trust your instincts.
  2. Change the negative association with failure to a positive.
  3. Confront the fear of looking bad in front of other people.

Let’s break these things down. You can skip any parts that don’t apply to you.

Trusting your instincts

I was always taught to think before speaking. Generally, this is very good advice. However, I quickly learned that this exact advice is detrimental to being heard in work situations.

I spent so much time thinking about what to say that I never got to say anything. I left many meetings feeling frustrated because conversation topics changed before I could get any words in. Feeling worried about yet again being told that I was too quiet, I decided to figure out a way to get heard more without changing the core essence of what makes me me. I started to say what was on my mind as soon after I thought it as possible.

As I spoke in the moment more, I found that I improved at dynamically composing my words each time. I began writing down points in case conversations started to shift so that I could provide finishing thoughts. I observed social cues that notified people that others wanted to speak and began using them in conversations. Soon, I was a thought-providing machine.

Practice speaking candidly with friends and at work — instead of mulling over the perfect thing to say, see what happens when you rely on your instincts. An additional benefit of this exercise is that you will likely gain more visibility each time you do it. The more you say what’s on the top of your mind, the more people will hear you. Continue to ensure that you are providing value to the conversation, of course, but don’t worry about finding the perfect way to word a sentence. You can always break your ideas down further if people…

Catt Small

Product Designer, Programmer, Game Developer, Artist, & karaoke ♥er. Bronx-born & raised. She.