A few years ago I attended a talk by psychologist and film maker Eve Ash. She said that for anyone to be successful they needed to have both persistence and confidence. I agree, but there is I believe one more element need: competence.

We need to be persistent in order to build competence and this can increase our confidence. But where do we start? What comes first? I believe it starts with confidence.

Think back to when you first learnt to ride a bike. Your parents showed you the bike and said, “Hop on and pedal and you’ll be fine.” And your five year old brain was thinking “You’re crazy! Look at the thing! It can’t even stand up by itself. I’m going to die…”

There was no competence and there was, as yet, no persistence. You had to trust in the process, breathe deeply and choose to be confident. In other words – you had to fake it!

The first step in something new is always going to be a leap of faith. You can’t fake your flying test, but you can fake the confidence needed to get you to sign up for the course.

Here are 5 ways you can fake confidence to get you over the hump in your next presentation.

1. Choose your thoughts
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “We become what we think about all day long.”

So what are you thinking about? The little voice in our head is very vocal and most of the time not very nice! Click here to read how Herb Elliot managed the voice in his head and went on to win a world record.

2. Your physiology will effect your psychology
Interesting isn’t it? How do you stand when you are nervous?Research show that you can feel more confident simply by striking a confident pose. How easy is that? Amy Cuddy explains why in this fabulous TED talk.

3. Channel a confident person
I caught up recently with a participant who attended an in-house Networking and You workshop that I ran and I asked her how her networking was going.

She said that she was doing well and actually enjoying the process and had made some fabulous connections. I asked her what is was that she was doing differently and she replied “Oh, well, I get to an event early, like you suggested, and then I say to myself, ‘Now, what would Sharon do? Well, I rekon she’d go up to that person standing alone and introduce herself’ and then I do exactly that!”

I used to use this technique when I was younger. I would ask myself “What does a successful person in this role look like?” and create an image in my head and emulate that. If you have a real person you can channel all the better!

4. Build up your ‘Confidence Fitness’
You’ve decided to run a marathon – great! So, do you wait till the day before, get into your running gear and set off? I hope not! I imagine you start 6 to 12 months before, perfecting your stride and setting yourself goals to build your fitness.

Confidence is the same. We procrastinate on that which we fear. The only way to become a more confident speaker is to speak! Find an opportunity to speak up at meetings, ask to deliver that project update and if you need more practice join Toastmasters, Rostrum or the Penguin Club.

Accept that the nerves will always be there (and yes after 25+ years I can still feel nervous) but with practice you can make those butterflies fly in formation.

5. Choose to be confident
So, do you want to be confident? Really? Then now is the time to lean in. You need to choose to be confident because despite what you may have been told, no one can make you confident.

Confidence is a choice and it is a choice that we need to make in order to get what we want.

Sometimes we need to make it annually, sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly and sometimes minute by minute.

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It’s your choice – you can do what you’ve always done or do something different. It’s time to choose which way you are going to go.

Sharon Ferrier

Sharon Ferrier, through her business ‘Persuasive Presentations’ consults to organisations and individuals who have a need to improve their communication, presentation skills and confidence in public speaking.
Sharon Ferrier

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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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