Most people feel a degree of fear when asked to speak in front of an audience. It’s about vulnerability: we want the approval of our peers, and when there’s a risk of going wrong, we get scared. Simple.
Having helped many people prepare for a presentation, here’s what I’ve learnt:
Confident presenters feel the same nerves you do, they just think differently. Instead of allowing the fear to take over, they create a mindset based on what they know, rather than what they imagine.
They know they have prepared fully for this situation. And when you know you’ve prepared fully, you can be more rational about the possibility something will go wrong, and also what will happen if it does.
Here’s what confident presenters are sure of:
- Their message. They have taken time to identify exactly what they want to happen as a result of their presentation.
- Their audience. They know who they are, the language they use, and what they already know.
- The ACTION. A confident presenter knows what they want their audience to DO, therefore what they must FEEL, therefore what they must HEAR.
- Their own connection to their presentation. If you’re just there to close a deal or elevate yourself, your audience will see through you. A confident presenter has identified what fires them up about their presentation: they’re selling their passion, not their product, and that is a whole different feeling.
- How to structure their talk. A clear, impactful opening message; stories to illustrate their points; a concise, simple call to action.
- How to use storytelling to show the audience themselves in the story so that they can relate, and care enough to listen.
- How to present numbers that mean something – they frame them in a narrative that creates an emotional response.
- Their topic.Blaggers fall apart at the question stage if they don’t know their subject. If you know that stage is coming, you won’t be feeling confident!
- They’re ready. They’ve practised, in front of an audience, preferably in the room they’re going to presenting in, using the same equipment. They’re early, they have all their slides and notes in order, and they’ve had time to calm their breath and be present.
- They believe in themselves – their right to be in the room, and that what they have to say is worthy of being heard.
Confident people aren’t better than the rest of us, they just think differently. If you keep telling yourself how nervous you are, how terribly your nerves affect you, and that’s all you allow yourself to think about, you will go into the situation feeling (and appearing) unconfident.
When you’re sure of your presentation, your topic and your personal connection, you can rationally talk yourself down. And, if something goes wrong, you won’t give it more weight than it deserves. We all make mistakes, and a smile and a quick acknowledgement that things haven’t gone to plan will usually release the tension in the room. Take a moment, correct the mistake, and move on.
Take a moment to think about someone you know who you think of as a confident presenter. What is it you admire about them? Could you chat to them and ask them how they prepare? You might learn something!
Get in Touch to learn how to be a confident presenter.