Secret #2 of star presenters: @ConnieDieken on confidence [Video]

When you speak in public, do you speak boldly? Or do you show signs of being nervous? According to Connie Dieken, former news anchor and author of Talk Less, Say More, speaking boldly is one of 3 ways you can avoid stumbling for words.

In her 4-minute video below, she says:

“Either deliver [your talk] boldly or stay home”

If you’d like to see Connie’s quote in context, you can either skip to the relevant part (3’07”) of her video on YouTube, or watch some or all of the 4-minute clip right here:


Connie’s quote really struck a chord

Connie’s quote really struck a chord with me personally, because after my most recent speech at Toastmasters, the evaluator had encouraged me to speak more boldly, for more impact.

Reducing nervousness and building confidence as a speaker is one of the main reasons many people join Toastmasters – it was certainly my main reason. And because fear of public speaking is so common, it’s highly likely you want to be a more confident speaker, too.

So what can you do to reduce stage fright, build your confidence, and speak more boldly? For a start, try these 6 tips:

  • Practise private “power poses”
    As Harvard research has shown, power poses release hormones that reduce anxiety and get your brain in the mood to speak boldly – before your speech, and even before your rehearsals.

    Note: The research has since been strongly challenged. However, when I’ve tried power poses before giving a talk, they seem to help, so perhaps there’s a placebo effect happening!

  • Have a clear, concise main message
    This lets you easily remember your main message, and feel confident about where your talk is heading. To help keep your main message clear and concise, write it as a single sentence when you start to prepare your talk. (Having such a clear main message also helps you persuade your audience, and of course helps them understand and remember your message, too.)
  • Use just 3 key points to support your main message
    Again, this helps you relax about your content. To keep your 3 points easy to remember, it’s handy to represent them in your mind as either pictures, key words, short phrases, or if possible even an acronym. (If you use slides or a flipchart or similar, show your audience your pictures or acronym or other memory aid. That way, you’ll help people remember your key points, just like you did!)
  • Rehearse your speech several times
    Each time you rehearse, use your slides or other visuals (if any), so you absorb both what you’ll say and how you’ll deliver it. (Video each of your rehearsals, too, so you can see and hear how you come across. With each rehearsal, you’ll likely see yourself gradually gain confidence and effectiveness.)
  • Start your PowerPoint slideshow automatically (if you’re using one)
    That way, you can focus on your message instead of on your PC!
  • Join a speaking group or course
    A group such as Toastmasters or Speaking Circles, or even a free course on public speaking, will help you build your confidence over time. (If you know of another speaking group, please mention it in a comment.)

For more ideas, also see:


Over to you

  • Which of this post’s tips appeal to you, and why?
  • Do any of this post’s tips sound hard to do? If so, why?
  • What tips do you use to help you prepare, or to speak more boldly?


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Note: Connie’s quote is the 2nd in an ongoing series of insights and inspiration from expert presenters. Look out for future posts with more wise words from well-known authors and bloggers, to help you present.


5 thoughts on “Secret #2 of star presenters: @ConnieDieken on confidence [Video]

  1. Having a clear concise message is crucial. Craig Valentine calls it a ‘foundational phrase’ and says if you can’t give the essence of your talk in 10 words or less, it’s too confusing to even YOU!
    Rehearsing. YES!!!!!! the more the better.
    Loving the POWER POSES. I will be trying them out at my club contest NEXT WEEK and will let you know how it goes.
    Toastmasters all the way.
    Be bold Craig!


    • Thanks Paula!

      10 words is a real challenge, but I know Craig V’s great at packing thoughts into pithy sayings.

      Rehearsing is one topic where there’s so much contradictory advice. Some people say rehearsing lots can make you sound canned, but others say the opposite – that it lets you seem more natural. I think the key’s not to try to be word-perfect, and to video yourself every time so you get feedback.

      I can’t wait to hear how you go in the contest!

      I competed in my 1st contest last week, but only as an evaluator as I actually haven’t done enough speeches yet to enter as a speaker! All the same, I really enjoyed it. I was very pleased with my content and delivery, but being 1st time I didn’t keep an eye on the timer so went over. Oh well, next time, eh?!

      Thanks for your words of encouragement, Paula – it means a lot to me.

      And you go girl, too!


      • You went in the evaluation contest? Good for you!!! That’s awesome! That was my first contest too and I have ALWAYS forgotten about the actual existence of the lights. Only in the past year have I been able to become aware of them.
        I think you’re bang on with knowing your content. No, you don’t want to sound rehearsed, but if it’s something important to you, it will be engaging. Have a great day!


        • The key message outwards system is wonderfully important. I personally believe that you should be able to fit your key message in a tweet (so maybe even less than 10 words). Then each of your three headings should be tweetable too.

          There’s an excellent discussion of this in the book How to speak like Ted.

          Excellent tips. Thank you for sharing.


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