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Public Speaking Tips: Screaming Confidence at Toastmasters Contest

After winning 1st-place at the District 39 Toastmasters 2013 Spring Conference’s “International Speech” contest on May 18, 2013, in Stockton, CA, I want to share the public speaking tips I follow to keep myself screaming with confidence:

  1. I breathe.
  2. I smile.
  3. I stand up, often. I shake my legs out periodically. And I also stand on one leg and roll the other leg’s ankle.
  4. During soundcheck, I specifically stand on the stage and look out over the empty chairs in the event room and I take a couple of deep breaths and bring the room into my body. I also do a “twisting” dance with my feet so my shoes get a good feel for the stage. Getting “in touch” with the stage is important (at least for me).
  5. During the contest, I stand and watch each of my competitors and purposefully cheer them on. This really helps me stay active, alert and “in the zone.”
  6. Mini plastic bottle of water. Keeping my mouth and throat hydrated. Because dry-mouth is a confidence-killer.
  7. When I’m in the back of the room getting mic’d (before I go on stage), I take a couple of easy deep breaths, smile, stand straight and make sure my shoulders are squared. It’s a bit of a fighter’s stance, and that “imagery” is on purpose.
  8. When I stand in the wings with my handler, waiting for my name to be called, I look out over the packed conference room and smile at the whole audience – taking in the whole moment. They’re not looking at me yet because I’m not on stage yet, but all the other contestants just stared at the stage (or the floor) while they waited for their name to be called. I wanted to be more proactive with the audience before I was actually in front of them on stage. It helped me feel natural.
  9. Whenever I have self doubt I take immediate action: I smile, breathe and square my shoulders and “lean into” it! And I’ll take a step forward so that I’m physically moving “in front of” doubt.
  10. Mental alchemy: About 24 hours before the contest, I started to think in terms of “being invited to speak” rather than competing against other speakers. This changed how I “felt” about the whole event. I had been “invited to speak.”

Screaming confidence™ comes from on-the-spot re-direction of all incoming doubts. It’s like steering a car to avoid potholes and on-coming traffic. Smiling, breathing and standing “forward” – all these physical adjustments – really helps me stay in the zone!

Public Speaking Tips: Screaming confidence at Toastmasters Contest - Crowd

Public Speaking Tips: Screaming confidence at Toastmasters Contest - Reid Walley - 1st place winner

Public Speaking Tips: Screaming confidence at Toastmasters Contest - Ceci Dunn, Reid Walley, Kristi Beres, Jenny Mohler

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  1. Reid, congratulations on your progress toward International Speaker. Thanks for posting your interesting tips on contest confidence. I was not in attendance, but look forward to hearing your speech.

    Carolyn Lancaster
    2131 – Carson Communicators Toastmasters

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips, Reid, and congrats on your win.

    I particularly like #10, about viewing the contest as an invitation to speak. How we frame situations can have a huge impact on our approach – and success!

    A tip I’ve found useful is to do private “power poses” beforehand. Harvard research has shown that those boost testosterone, which is useful for both male and female speakers to combat nerves and increase performance. Here’s a great video of how it works: Boost testosterone – present better!

    I’d be very interested to see your speech when it’s published. Just watched your “Light Bulb” speech and enjoyed it too.

    Thanks again for the tips, and good luck!

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