They say that public speaking is one of the biggest confidence shaking phobias shared in common amongst most folks. That’s right! It even beats out the crippling fear of hairy, eight-legged creepy crawlies!
Neuropsychologist Theo Tsaousides explains, in a Psychology Today article that the fear of public speaking is not so much related to the quality of a speech as it is to how the speaker feels, thinks, or acts when faced with speaking in public.
You started your podcast because you have something to say, and whilst you may not necessarily be speaking in public in front of a live audience, our medium is still very much a public one. You have to be feeling good, thinking positively, and acting natural every time you don the headphones and man the mic. Your message and voice is too valued by your listeners and potential followers for you to be rendered tongue tied by a lack of confidence.
If you’ve ever asked the question “How Can I Increase My Confidence On The Mic?” then today’s blog is for you! We’re happy to share 5 ways you can finally beat the nerves in front of the mic.
But if you’re looking for help with those nerves in front of spiders…we’re sorry but you’re on your own!
Let’s kick off with point 1…
1. Stay Calm
Whilst the stagefright-esque nerves that hit you out of nowhere may feel rooted in our emotions, this first solution is actually deeply rooted in our physiology. Dr Tsaousides reveals that:
“Fear and anxiety involve the arousal of the autonomic nervous system in response to a potentially threatening stimulus. When confronted with a threat, our bodies prepare for battle.”
Interesting, right? The way we feel in a particular moment has a direct impact on the way our physical bodies react. Dr Tsaousides further adds: the subsequent feelings of anxiety and panic that occur will hinder your performance and undermine the quality of your end product. We cannot afford for this to happen!
The goal here is to preempt any such negative reaction with a tool belt of handy practices that will ensure you begin each podcast episode cool, calm, and collected, and remain so until the last word of your outro.
Here are two tips to consider – for before your recording session (rest) and one for during (breathing).
Your performance on recording day is invariably linked to your level of restedness and how well you slept the night before. Life can be busy, late nights, early mornings, deadlines and familial commitments are all par for the course, but if you don’t get enough sleep, all these things will suffer – including your podcast performance! Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep: clear your schedule after 10pm, set an alarm, and make yourself accountable.
In addition to the quantity of sleep, be mindful of the quality of sleep you’re getting. Your aim is to maximize the time your body spends in REM sleep. Some tried-and-tested methods include saying no to drinking fluids (especially alcohol) too late in the day so that your rest is not disturbed by bathroom breaks. You could also try turning away from stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine as the day begins to come to a close. And limit your amount of screen time after the evening sets in – a blue light bathed brain is a stimulated one!
Getting sufficient, quality rest will ensure that your brain and body feel sharp, and better equipped for any of the stressful demands the day may throw at you!
For more helpful insights and tips on sleep and rest check our article: How Do I Rest and De-stress From A Busy Recording Schedule?
Here’s a helpful breathing exercise know as equal breathing, recommended by Healthline.com:
1. Shut your eyes and pay attention to the way you normally breathe for several breaths.
2. Then, slowly count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale through your nose.
3. Exhale for the same four-second count.
4. As you inhale and exhale, be mindful of the feelings of fullness and emptiness in your lungs.
Pay attention to how you feel physically after this exercise. This should help you get a handle on the chemicals running through your body, as well as the thoughts running through your mind.
Related Reads: 8 Breathing Exercises to Try When You Feel Anxious
These two handy tools should help keep you feeling good physically. And now that you’re armed with the knowledge that our felt emotions and physical reactions are deeply knit, you’ll be able to keep your confidence up and your natural flight response down!
Since we’re on the subject of knowledge, that brings us nicely on to point number 2…
2. Know Your Stuff
One of the main confidence sapping culprits is the feeling of helplessness caused by a lack of preparedness.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Typical Boomer.
Whilst we’re not trying to lecture you with grandfatherly clichés, there is a ton of truth in this often-quoted adage that will help you to retain your confidence in front of the mic. Plan to succeed by knowing your stuff inside out.
What stuff specifically?
I’m glad you asked! Do you have an interviewee coming in? Do your due diligence and learn who they are, learn their name (seems small, but butchered pronunciations do little to engender confidence in the listener or interviewee, let alone the interviewer!). Know about their notable achievements and the thing(s) that make them a worthwhile voice to invite onto your podcast. Even go a step further and find out a novel detail that will delight and surprise – there are few things more confident boosting for an interviewer than their guest delightfully complimenting on their exceptional sleuthing skills!
Are you going solo? Know the topic of today’s discussion. You are more than likely doing a podcast about something in which you are interested or have a degree of expertise in. Brush up on your lingo, know the terms and definitions, bring yourself up to speed with the latest industry developments, and be prepared to give your opinion and synthesis of difficult hot button issues.
This level of preparation is wonderful in that it puts both you and your audience at ease. It’s a confidence booster for all parties involved – a win-win!
Wanna really solidify your sense of preparedness (and, thereby, confidence)? Let’s take point number two a step further…
3. Go Through The Motions
In addition to knowing the requisite information to have a meaningful monologue or dialogue, try playing out each step, cue, question and answer before it’s even time to record! Picture a dress rehearsal for your podcast; you could try writing down your questions and/or statements and saying them out loud, so that you literally know how the words feel coming out of your mouth. This will eliminate those unpleasant “uhms”, “ahs”, and meaningless vocal filler that only serves to communicate a clear lack of confidence.
You could go a step further and employ a visualisation technique. Before recording day, sit quietly alone, eye closed, and picture every step of the session and walk through it in your mind’s eye – picture yourself in your outfit of the day, open the door to the recording space, take your seat and put on your headphones, see yourself smiling, greeting your guest, anticipate their first response, proceed to feel and live through the podcast episode before it ever happens!
This is a great way to stifle nervousness caused by the fear of the unknown – you make yourself acquainted with the seemingly unknown, there remains nothing to fear! And where fear leaves a gaping vacuum, confidence will gladly slide on in.
So now that we’ve practiced being in the moment, let’s talk about actually being in the moment…
4. You’re Alive, Not Live!
You have permission to screw up! You are allowed to make mistakes! Flub and gaff to your heart’s content! The beauty of podcasting is that they are typically pre-recorded and edited, as opposed to being streamed as live events. Whether you have the benefit of being in partnership with a professional podcast editing service such as We Edit Podcasts, or simply make tweaks and adjustments on your laptop using a free DAW like GarageBand, all your mistakes are likely to be taken care of in post. So….relax.
Allow yourself the liberty of being in the moment, allow yourself to be present, fully you, fully alive without the pressure of having to nail it perfectly the first. Again, a reminder – it’s pre-recorded and then edited, so you’re good! This is not a life or death hostage negotiation (…unless, of course, you have a podcast about life or death hostage negotiations), so be confident, rock it, and nail it.
“What is this, a self improvement conference from the mid 90s?”. I know, I know, but hear me out. Before you grab your power suit and your flip phone you’ve got to realise that the human mind has has the same wiring and circuitry for millenia, and the old saying – “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” – may be old, but is also quite incorrect.
A peer reviewed, scientific study published to the National Library of Medicine came to the conclusion that negative self-talk plays a role in the generation or maintenance of anxiety in normal children (Here is a link to the abstract of the study). In the same way that the negative self-talk we may subject ourselves to can have a bad effect, positive self-talk can have a confidence inducing beneficial effect.
Self-talk can be audible and spoken out loud, or it could be internal and communicated to yourself in your mind, but either way it is heard. Try this, instead of saying: “My voice sounds terrible”, “Why did I say that? I’m not making sense”, “No one will listen to me, I’m not smart enough” – try saying: “I have a great voice, it’s so unique and distinct”, “I’m glad I said that, it’s what I was honestly thinking”, “I’m so grateful for my audience, they trust my opinion on this subject”.
This may be difficult and unnatural at first but it may take time to undo an innate, knee-jerk instinct to tear yourself down. Be intentional about reversing this and building your confidence up with strategic self-talk!
6. Invest In Your Mic
One easy, and often overlooked, method of improving your confidence on the mic is by simply taking the step to invest in a great quality microphone. Some of the most cringeworthy content we’ve consumed is really only bad based on the quality of the audio, not necessarily the quality of what’s said. Hissing, popping, background sounds, and unwanted ambient noise are all easily avoidable distractions.
Don’t allow that to be you and your podcast! Take the step and do research on the microphones available on the market, the way they work, and whether or not they fit your price range. It is an investment that will pay solid dividends – in the currency of confidence! Get the right microphone that will provide the quality your listeners deserve. It will simply make you sound better, more polished, pleasing to the ear, and, most importantly, more confident.
For more helpful suggestions and pricing on essential podcasting gear check out this related read: How Much Does Podcasting Really Cost? (Breaking Down The Expenses)
There’s another investment you can make – but this time it’s not in gear, it’s directly in yourself…
7. Get Trained
Another way to combat nervousness and build your confidence behind the mic is by training for public speaking, and joining a club such as Toastmasters. You can find other local organizations, clubs, and even one-on-one mentors, but I have attended a Toastmasters Event in the past and was pleasantly surprised by the challenge to eliminate the “uhms” and “ahs” I had developed the habit of peppered through my speech. Not everything that comes naturally is necessarily helpful and there is always room for improvement.
A cursory glance through the nonprofit’s About Section will inform you that “since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders.” This can apply directly to you as a podcaster! Investing in yourself to become a better speaker is a step that may seem like an uncomfortable inconvenience at first, especially if you’re naturally introverted, but it will definitely pay off, and you will grow as a more confident communicator.
When it comes to recording your podcast it may feel like your courage is stolen in one foul swoop, a mere instant, the fraction of a second in which you step up to the mic and the little red recording light becomes illuminated. But we’re happy to report that it’s just as easy to retain and maintain your confidence! Stay calm by taking care of your physical body. Be prepared by knowing the necessary information and even taking yourself through the process step by step. Give yourself permission to chill, your recording will be edited and you will sound great! And lastly, make sure you have the gear in place to make you sound your very best. Follow these seven steps and you will be sure to increase your confidence on the podcast mic.