In my last presentation post I outlined, "10 Simple Steps to Rock Your Next Business Presentation." This post we'll deep dive into building your presentation confidence.
If you are confident, then you'll exude that confidence. It will come out in your presentation. The manner in which you present shows the audience you're confident in your material.
Sounds great right? Well what are a few ways you can gain and show confidence?
1. Posture: Stand or sit up straight. Standing would be the preferable method for presenting. We all know, this isn’t always acceptable. It's simple. If you slump down in your seat, with your head down and back arched forwards, you’ll look and sound like a slouch! Work on your posture. It will open up your airways for projection and give the perception of confidence.
2. Relax: 15-30 minutes before your presentation … put down your notes and relax. Listen to some music. Do a few breathing exercises. Calm yourself and turn those nerves into passion and enthusiasm.
My favorite Pandora Station is Indie Folk Revival. It allows me slip into fantasyland. I'm out on the beautiful plains or maybe somewhere in Montana on a cool and crisp day. The music helps me to clear my thoughts, relax, and smile. Do you have a band or station that helps you relax? Try it out.
3. Let go: Everyone makes mistakes, even the pros! Have you ever watched presidential speech bloopers? It happens to the best of us. So let go of the fear you’ll make a mistake. Focus on the presentation at hand. Tell your mind to reserve its critique for after the presentation.
4. Practice: Enough said. If you don’t practice, you’ll never improve. If you don’t improve, your execution will fail or at the least, everyone will know you didn’t prepare. We’ll cover this more next week, but it’s important to building confidence so I had to mention it.
5. Passion / Enthusiasm: Be passionate about your material. Show some enthusiasm as the presenter. Smile! If you use passion, enthusiasm, and smile, your confidence level will increase. Your audience will feel your passion and cheer you on.
6. Exercise: If you don’t already have one, develop an exercise routine. You don’t have to become a body builder or marathon runner. Start small. Schedule 20 minutes out of your day for a short stroll and move up from there. Exercise helps relieve stress and mentally preparing for the what's ahead. Plus, studies show your own body perception can impact confidence levels.
Right before sitting down to write this post, I came in from a light 20-minute jog. I’m in the same boat as a lot of people. I work and travel internationally all the time. I haven’t concentrated enough on my exercise. It’s hard! So, I started scheduling my exercise in small steps. I wake up every morning, stretch, and breathe for 15 minutes. Next, I review my goals for the day and then walk out my door for a short jog. When I get back, I’m invigorated and ready to hit the ground running. Tomorrow, I’ll stretch and do some basic exercises like push-ups, planks, lunges, etc. Nothing special. My goal is to increase my exercise each week. Every week I’ll become a little stronger and a little more confident.
7. Dress: You know when you look in the mirror and think, “Damn I look good!” Well, that’s confidence! Dress for success. Again, not saying you should go out spend $1000’s on new clothes. Choose clothing that reflects who you are and how you want people to perceive you. Find clothes that are comfortable, look damn good, and make you feel like a million dollars. When you look good and feel good, your confidence increases.
Deals, deals, deals! You can find deals everywhere! There are plenty of online retailers using e-commerce to buck the brick and mortar model. By doing so, they can bring you awesome deals on clothing. My only caution is to know your size and ensure they have a good return policy. Sometimes sizes differ with brands. If you want to go the brick and mortar route, try places like Nordstrom Rack or Saks Off 5th.
8. Fake it: 99.99% of the time I wouldn’t recommend faking anything. It’s always best to be genuine. But … if all above fails, fake it. I know, I know … but the cliché “fake it until you make it” applies here. Act like you’re the most confident person there is … Go in there and knock your presentation out of the park. Then, walk out of that room, find a private spot, and puke if you have to. Kidding. You can only get away with faking it for so long. by the time it catches up, you’ll be a seasoned pro and it won’t even matter anymore.
9. Come back next week: I'll deep dive on techniques to improve practicing before presentations.
As always, I welcome feedback. Please let me know anything I missed, what I can improve on, where I can go deeper, and any of your success stories. I wish you the best of luck and let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.
- Stewart Swayze