Lots of people struggle with confidence. The minute we enter “Presentation Mode”, we feel awkward and self-conscious. We become incapable of natural movement and feel constricted, getting stuck in a cycle of public speaking fear.

Authenticity really matters: true persuasion only occurs when someone trusts you. And people only trust you if they think you’re being genuine.

Which means being natural – a relaxed and confident version of ourselves.

Your presentation style needs to replicate “real” life, which means feeling confident enough to use natural gesture, voice, facial expression, and movement.

If you think of those people you know and admire for their public speaking, chances are they feel relaxed enough to walk away from their notes for a few seconds, perhaps occasionally returning to the lectern to make sure they’re still on track.

They are able to present with purposeful, confident gesture that seems natural and authentic. They give the impression they’re thinking of things as they go, just for you, always driving towards a clear message.

Here’s how they do it:


When you know your content hits the spot, you will already feel more confident before you even start. Confident presenters have identified exactly what the point of their presentation is, and the language their audience will respond best to. When you shift the focus from you, to your audience, you naturally become less self-conscious.


They know their stuff – not just their lines, but their topic – so they’re not afraid of being “caught out” by straying away from their notes. Practise your presentation so well that you can handle anything being thrown at you – and make sure that includes a run through in front of an audience. Don’t make your live performance your first performance!

Warm up

There are clear links between our psychological state and our physicality. We all know what confident people look like, with their strong, open and relaxed body language, so copy it and trick your mind in to feeling more confident. Fake it til you make it, as they say. Take time to warm your body up, including your breathing and your voice, so that you’re fired up and ready to go.

Learn it

When you “read” to an audience from a script, you put an emotional barrier between you and them. They don’t feel you’re with them in real time, speaking just for them, holding their problems/successes at the centre. You heighten their awareness that you’re reading something you’ve written before you’ve even met them! In fact, you might have just dragged out from your filing cabinet some presentation you gave to an entirely different group of people six months ago!

Try and learn your presentation as well as you can so that you give the impression of natural, conversational speech. But know your limits: if you know you’ll be thrown by nerves, or lose your way, have some bullet points on a card or, even better, visual prompts on slides you can share with your audience.

Eye contact

Confident eye contact means you allow your gaze to fall naturally on one person, and leave it there for one phrase, before moving on to another person. This approach to eye contact serves two purposes: 1) you avoid eyeballing one person for too long 2) you find a natural rhythm in your speech. You’ll be more intentional in your phrasing, which focuses you on what you’re saying and stops you rushing.

Natural speech pattern

Confident speakers aren’t afraid to use their voice to tell their story. If you imagine a typed version of your speech, you would use things like bold, italics, CAPITAL LETTERS and punctuation!! to highlight the phrases you want to stand out. When delivering a speech verbally, you have to use your voice to do all these things. Go through your speech with a highlighter pen, identifying the bits you really want to stand out, and then decide which vocal tool you will use (volume, intonation, pitch, pace and pause).

Natural movement

Likewise, identify places in your presentation where you will move. When you give yourself clear stage directions, you’ll be more mindful of aimless ambling. We all tend to move more when we’re excited, so decide which bits you’ll take purposeful steps to the other side of the stage, or emphasise with a strong gesture.

Become aware

Rehearse in front of friends or colleagues who will give you honest, constructive feedback. Better still, film yourself and make a note of how much unnecessary movement you notice.

Mark your start

Identify a place, ideally centrally on the stage, near the audience,  where everyone can see you in a strong stance, from where you’ll start your presentation. Take a moment to breathe, using relaxed open smile and eye contact, before delivering your opening line.

Find your fire

If you can work out what it is about your presentation that fires you up, you’ll elevate your talk from “speech” to “talking to you all about something I love!”. Not only does that passion make it more exciting for everyone to listen to, but you’ll approach it completely differently and, dare I say it, even look forward to it! You’ll feel more confident, and this will come across.

To feel really confident when presenting, you need to be sure that WHAT you’re saying is brilliant, and HOW you’re saying it is equally brilliant! You can be the most charismatic person in the world, but if you know your presentation is falling flat, you’ll start to get the fear. Equally, your presentation may be technically sound, but if you get thrown by nerves or don’t know how to use your voice, you’ll get caught in a cycle of fear.

If you’d like help creating and delivering brilliant presentations, every time, get in touch.