Presenting with confidence starts in the mind.
Presentation skills are a major contributor to personal success in business today.
Presenting with confidence is the platform to influence, persuade and even inspire others.
The days when the need to present well were useful or important have are long gone.
Presenting with confidence is essential today
Despite its significance, presenting remains the source of one of the greatest anxieties professionals still face today.
It’s not something most of us were taught to do
Most of us weren’t schooled in how to raise a child or deal with bereavement.
Presenting with confidence wasn’t high on the teaching agenda when most of us were younger either
Imagine wandering around the planet for your first 20 or 30 years of life never having to stand in front of a group of adults to speak.
Then suddenly, the spotlight is firmly on you with an audience of wide-eyed professionals listening to your every word.
Presenting with confidence is easier than you may think
Here are just a few key suggestions:
1. Find purpose
Start by giving mindful consideration to:
– Why you are presenting in the first place
– Who your audience really are and what help they need
– What your key message is and what value it will offer their audience
– What you want your audience to do with the information
– How you want your audience to feel
Answering those questions explicitly encourges you to focus your attention exclusively on your audience.
Focusing on yourself as the presenter, is often the greatest cause of anxiety.
“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” Johann wolfgang von Goethe
2. Prepare properly
There are no shortcuts when it comes to preparation:
– Knowing what you want to say is of course important.
You then have to decide what content will help you to say it effectively. Crafting your message in the form of a ‘Tweet’ will help you prepare content that is concise, complete and compelling.
– Begin the preparation process until by learning all you possibly can about your audience.
– On separate notes write down in under 140 characters your message, what you want them to think, feel and do.
– Write down everything you could possibly include to help you achieve the goals noted on your post it notes.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln
3. Practice mindfully
You have crafted and constructed your contentcarefully. Now it’s time to practice.
– Don’t focus on perfection. Focus on internalising (not memorising your message)
– Record yourself presenting. Play it back and look at your body language. Listen to how you speak.
– Time yourself presenting.
– Experiment. If you don’t like the way you look or sound, change it.
– Ask for feedback.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Aristotle
4. Change your mind
When it comes to presenting with confidence, it’s our perception that creates our reality.
How you perceive yourself and your audience is of critical importance.
It’s very easy to see yourself as prey and your audience as predators when the spotlight is on you.
Unhelpful thoughts such as:
‘What if I forget what to say and look stupid?’
‘They’ve probably heard it all before or know even more than I do’
‘They’ll see how nervous I am by the way my neck turns red, legs shake….’
‘My voice will tremble and I always say err and umm…’
‘What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?’
These are all possibilities (unlikely but possible)
Presenting with confidence involves change the unhelpful thoughts to helpful ones:
– I have something important to share that will really help my audience.
– My audience are on my side, they are here to simply learn.
– They just want to hear how I can help.
– I’m so passionate about this message.
– I’ve prepared and practiced thoroughly and my audience will see that.
“The biggest problem any of us ever face is our own negative thinking.” Robert Schuller
5. Slow down and calm down
As incredible as our minds are, the one thing that often hinders our performance is the ‘noise’ it makes.
Research suggests that we each have tens of thousands of thoughts each day, that many of them are recycled repetitive thoughts and many are also negative.
For the anxious presenter that’s not very reassuring but it is useful to know.
We need to filter the ‘noise
A great way to slow down and filter the noise to allow space for clarity and harmony is to practice meditation.
It’s a major key to presenting with confidence.
As we quieten the mind through consistent practice we achieve greater presence when we speak.
– Sit down in a comfortable position where you won’t be disturbed.
– Close your eyes and notice your breath as you breathe in and out.
– Each time your mind wanders bring your attention and focus back to your breath.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” Amit Ray
6. Step into confidence
Imagine you were at a networking event and felt very anxious about approaching others to introduce yourself.
Now imagine what confidence looks like to you on a scale of 1 to 10. The number 1 represents the lowest level of confidence and 10 the highest.
Imagine yourself wandering around the room as though you were an 8, 9 or even 10 on that scale of confidence?
What would you do to demonstrate that confidence?
My guess is that you would:
– Stand tall and proud
– Relax your shoulders
– Breathe deeply
– Make eye contact with people
– Gesture using you hands
Now wander around the room as a 2, 3 or 4
You know just what that looks like and exactly what to do. It’s opposite to the above.
You don’t have to go to RADA for years to learn how to act.
Your conscious and subconscious mind already knows exactly what it takes for you to make yourself look confident.
Once you practice making yourself look confident, the feelings will soon come flooding along with it.
If presenting with confidence is one of your goals:
– Book yourself onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get yourself some excellent presentation training
Image: Courtesy of flickr.com