If you think “I am not good at speaking in front of crowds; I am not a good public speaker; I bore people with my presentation etc.” you immediately raise your anxiety levels and break down your self-confidence. Being afraid of presenting in public involves certain misconceptions about speaking in public and about you as a speaker. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “all the great speakers were bad speakers at first.” Therefore, a fear of public speaking very often is only a matter of self-confidence, the right coaching and practice.
The fear of speaking in front of an audience originates from one’s own doubts. You might fear that your audience will question your credibility or even your self-image. You might also fear the failure of not achieving your desired communication goals with your audience or that you might bore them.
Let’s look at the art of presenting in two different orientations:
· Performance orientation.
Performance orientation means you care about your “performance” in front of the audience. Thus, you view public speaking as something that requires special skills, and you see the role of the audience as judges who are evaluating how good of a presenter you are by means of how you look, talk, make them laugh, how relaxed you are etc.
· Communication orientation.
On the contrary, communication orientation means the aim is to get your point across as effectively as possible. Therefore, the focus is on expressing your ideas, presenting the information, or telling your story. For people with this orientation, the objective is to get through to their audience the same way they get through to people during everyday conversations.
Think about this in reverse: If you view any conversation that you have in the presence of another person as a form of “public” speaking, you have enough evidence that you can express yourself clearly and communicate effectively. You would then take the same approach to public speaking events where the focus is simply on sharing ideas and information. However, when the focus shifts from being heard and understood to being evaluated and judged, the anxiety tends to be higher. So, what are you to do?
Boost your Self-Confidence, when Presenting, with these 13 Tips:
“Confidence is better than perfection…” said APJ Abdul Kalam, “…because perfection means doing the best, but confidence means knowing how to handle the worst.”
Having self-confidence while speaking in front of an audience, makes the audience feel more comfortable with you whilst you talk; gives you credibility; makes the audience listen and pay attention to you; and gives the audience a positive vibe from you.
- Think about public speaking as a conversation, not a presentation.
- Be well prepared and practice in front of the mirror. Memorise your opening line. Knowing how you’re going to begin, gives you a strong start and builds your confidence. Many speakers and stage actors find that the minute they’ve delivered their first line, the nerves are settled and they’re well into their stride. Research things like the audience size, the venue where you will speak, what equipment is available etc. Prepare for all scenarios and practice, practice, practice your presentation. When you are well prepared, you boost your confidence knowing that a lot less can go wrong.
- Don’t trust technology. Always have a backup to avoid yourself from freaking out. There’s nothing worse than the projector dying or finding that your laptop won’t communicate with the projector for some reason. If you know you have a backup, even if it’s only a pre-prepared flip chart, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be more confident.
- Arrive early. Give yourself enough time. Arrive at least half an hour early so you aren’t feeling rushed, and so you have time to check your equipment and get your notes laid out and ready to go. That gives you time to breathe and “get into the zone” before you go on, knowing everything is as set as it can be.
- Know your audience and don’t underestimate them.
- Trust yourself that you can do this. Venus Williams said “Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.” If you trust yourself, you will have more confidence in yourself and look more confident on stage.
- Truly believe in what you say. “If you can speak, you can influence. If you can influence, you can change lives,” said Rob Brown. That is the power of public speaking, but only if you believe what you say yourself. Unsure presenters come across as nervous and unconfident. People will be able to see your disbelieves through your waffling.
- Be yourself. People who are happy with who they are, have a lot more confidence. Make sure your audience connects with you as a person. Show your personality through humour and emotion. “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner.
- Breathe. A trick, to refocus and regain your confidence, is distraction. Take regular pauses or drink a few sips of water every now and again. Force yourself to breathe at a relaxing pace. This will lower the nervous barometer and help you focus and re-establish your confidence.
- Know what you want to say and stay on topic. Having a goal with your presentation will help you keep focus and give you the confidence to keep the audience captivated on the points you are trying to get across. “If you don’t know what you want to achieve in your presentation your audience never will.” Harvey Diamond.
- Dress comfortably for success. Keep to the dress code that is fitting to the occasion but dress dynamic and comfortable. “Dynamic” because when you power-dress you automatically feel good about yourself which enhances your confidence. And “comfortable” enough so that the attire does not irritate or distract you.
- Pre-positive self-talk. Positive self-talk during the practicing of the presentation and before the presentation will do your self-esteem the world of good. Re-assuring yourself that you are going to ace this presentation will make your inner negative voice quiet down.
- Don’t fear failure or mistakes during your presentation. Accept that everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes you will fail. So instead of running off the stage crying or cutting the presentation short, relax about it and simply joke about it, take a deep breath, regain your confidence, and move on.
“The success of your presentation will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives,” said Lilly Walters. Your confidence plays a major role in both the message and experience the listener receives from you.
*The Presentation Skills training course, presented by The Mindspa Institute, is designed to provide delegates with the skills, knowledge, techniques and strategies to present effectively so that they can get their point across in a confident, clear manner, improving efficiency and productivity. It is vitally important to be able to present your thoughts and ideas effectively, using a variety of tools. You will need to develop and use this skill throughout your years of employment. It is often said that most people do not possess the ability to present themselves or their ideas well, when all that is needed is training, coaching and practice.