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Boost your confidence as a presenter

James Sweetman Keynote Speaker

Do people really fear public speaking more than death? We’ve heard that quote many times, but does it really mean that at a funeral, more people would prefer to be in the coffin than deliver the eulogy? Of course at the heart of the fear of public speaking is really the fear of rejection and perceived lack of worthiness. We all harbour these fears, but somehow they seem magnified when we are asked to stand at the top of a room.

Here are 7 tips for boosting your self-confidence as a presenter.

1. Faith in yourself

The word confidence comes from the latin ‘con fidis’ meaning ‘with faith.’ My favourite definition of confidence is ‘an internal faith, belief or certainty about our personal powers and our ability to achieve.’ In other words, it’s having faith in ourselves. So, how can you demonstrate more faith in yourself as a presenter? Think of the knowledge you have on your topic. Think of situations in the past when you faced a challenge, but came through it. See delivering a presentation as an opportunity for you to test and grow your self-belief.

James Sweetman Speaker2. Remember to breathe

When we feel nervous, our breathing becomes higher and faster in our chests. Do the opposite, breathe slower and lower in your body and you will feel more grounded, calmer and you will speak more slowly. A slower delivery will add authority to your presentation.

3. Get over yourself!

This might sound like an odd tip, but if you think about it, when we feel nervous or feel we are lacking in self confidence, our focus is very much on ourselves. As a presenter our focus needs to be on the audience. Are they engaged? Do they understand what I’m communicating? When we consciously place our attention on the audience (as all great presenters do) then you don’t have time to think about how you are feeling.

4. Be prepared

Nervousness, worry, stress, these are all symptoms, the root cause is a feeling of not being in control. As a presenter, at minimum you need to know your presentation. If you are not sure what’s going to be on the next slide, then you are not going to be confident in your delivery. Similarly, arrive in plenty of time, become familiar with the room, and ensure your technology is working.

An audience will forgive you for most things apart from being boring. #presentationskills Click To Tweet

5. Visualise

Rehearse in your mind how you want to deliver your presentation. Remember when you worry you are visualising anyway, but then you are visualising what you don’t want to happen! Do what athletes and great performers have been doing for years, visualise how you want to deliver your presentation. Positive visualisation creates a roadmap for your success.

6. A little anxiousness is ok

Know that when you are trying something new, you are pushing your comfort zone and you are growing as an individual. We know when we are pushing our comfort zone because on the border of comfort zone is fear, nervousness and worry. Adrenaline will keep you attentive and on your toes. Remember too, that a little anxiousness means you care about what you are doing, you are emotionally invested and all great presentations require emotion. The opposite is complacency and we never want that.

7. The audience want you to succeed

All audiences want presenters to be interesting, informative and ‘entertaining.’ They want you to be comfortable at the top of the room. If a presenter is very nervous, that sense of nervousness is contagious, the audience will feel uncomfortable in their seats. Equally, think of the amount of time you focus on worrying about what other people think about you. If other people operate the same way and the vast majority do, then they have little head space to be thinking about you or your nerves.

Impactful presenters give themselves permission to be the best of themselves at the top of the room. Not only does this create a more engaging and effective presentation, you are not trying to be someone other than who you are, and that is the ultimate antidote for all fears, including the fear of public speaking.

Want more tips to enhance your presentations? Check out my free Tip Sheet