We all love to watch a presenter who appears cool, calm and confident. In fact, if a presenter doesn’t seem confident, it is uncomfortable to watch and we will have no confidence in the message they are sharing. But how is it that they are confident in the first place? Here are seven secrets that you can use to become a confident presenter:
- They prepare effectively
More preparation = fewer nerves. It really is as simple as that. Preparation is the absolute key to being a confident speaker. Preparation is not only about your content, although preparing relevant engaging content is obviously a vital part of it. There are various other areas to prepare, which are sometimes overlooked:
- Your mind – get yourself in the right state to do your best in the lead up and immediately before the presentation. This may be with meditation, mindfulness, positive affirmations or visualisation. Sometimes even playing an appropriate piece of music will help put you in the right state of mind.
- Your body – get enough rest and eat well in the lead up to your talk, and do a physical warm up prior to speaking to ensure you are in control and your body is ready to perform.
- Your voice – avoid any foods that may impact on your voice such as caffeine, alcohol and dairy; and try some gentle humming and tongue twisters before your talk to ensure your voice sounds clear and certain.
- The logistics – the more familiar you can become with the presenting space or webinar software, the more you will be able to ‘own the room.’ Understanding the equipment, where you will put your notes/props/water, what the room set up is like, what time you’re speaking, how long you’re speaking, how you will get there, etc., will aid your preparation so that you leave less to chance.
- They know it’s not about them
A presentation is never about the presenter; it is always about the audience. Focusing on serving the people who will be listening will enable you to get out of your head and communicate your message with confidence knowing that you have analysed your audience and developed a presentation that is interesting, engaging and relevant to them.
- They know the power of their body language
Confident presenters are comfortable in their own skin and know the value of using eye contact, gestures and facial expressions to connect with their audience and enhance their message. Standing tall and using open body language not only makes you look more confident, but makes you feel more confident too. This was highlighted in Amy Cuddy’s research into power posing which you can learn more about by watching her TED talk.
- They manage their mind
I personally believe that confidence is a choice. We can choose to be and feel confident or we can choose not to. If you approach a presentation with the idea that it’s going to be terrible, that you hate being the centre of attention and that you’re going to be so nervous that you forget everything, guess what… that’s what you’ll get. On the flip side if you choose to prepare well, change your limiting beliefs and focus on giving a great presentation, you are far more likely to feel and look confident than if you allow your mind to run away with unhelpful thoughts.
- They speak about what they know
For most of us, no matter how confident a speaker we are, if we speak about something unfamiliar we are likely to feel uncertain and this will be communicated in our presentation. If I had to speak about the elements on the periodic table or the migration habits of humpback whales, I’d be out of my depth and certainly not very comfortable! Author and professional speaker, Michael H Mescon said, “The best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.” By speaking about what you know, you will be much more confident when presenting.
- They don’t expect perfection
This one is a big challenge for me personally and I have noticed it with many of my clients. But I recently received some valuable advice from Paul du Toit, International Speaker and co-author of The Exceptional Speaker. When I asked him for some constructive feedback on a speech that I delivered at the Professional Speaking Association Annual Mega Conference, he told me I was already an exceptional speaker (of course, I was delighted!) and then he said, “Here’s my gift to you: stop trying to be perfect.” And he’s right. Confident presenters know that being authentic and connecting with the audience is better than a perfect delivery.
- They get their butterflies to fly in formation
Feeling nervous means that you care so it’s natural to get nervous from time to time, and in fact, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel some nerves before an important speech or presentation. But there are various ways to get those butterflies to fly in formation including reframing your nervous energy as excitement and taking time to slow down and regulate your breathing which will help you to feel calm, centred and focused.
And of course, you’ll be better able to control your butterflies by incorporating the suggestions mentioned in this post – prepare well, focus on the audience, use body language effectively, manage your mind, speak about what you know and stop trying to be perfect.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any confidence secrets? Please feel free to share them in the comments. And if you decide to try out any of the tips to help increase your own confidence, do let me know how you get on.