Last week I delivered Stand Up, Speak Up & Persuade for a new client and I sent out a questionnaire before the workshop asking them what their top three needs were.  

Any guesses as the number one need? Yep – confidence. You can see in the word cloud I generated above that it stands out like a beacon. 

You may think that you need to wait until you feel confident – If I waited for the confidence fairy to alighten on me I’d be waiting for a loooong time! 

You will need to take action before you feel 100% confident. Confidence is like physical fitness – the more you work on it the stronger you become.

Here are five tips to help improve your confidence fitness

  • Nerves are normal

A public speaking myth that comes up frequently is that good speakers are born that way. I hear this a lot in my workshops. Sure, a person who is more extroverted may have an advantage. But public speaking, like bike riding, is a skill. And with all skills, the more you do, the better you get.

Everybody feels nervous giving an important presentation. Acknowledge these nerves and remind yourself why you are here, why your message is important and the benefits to the audience.

Are you stretching yourself? Do you need more skill practice?

  • Understand your triggers

We all have things that will exacerbate our nerves. For me, it’s running late. So whenever I have an important presentation I factor in travel and focus time. If I’m speaking at a conference I like to get there at the morning tea break. I will go up on stage, do a sound check, visualise the audience and deliver the first 30 seconds of my presentation.  Once I have arrived, scoped out the venue and checked that all is in order I can relax. 

What are your triggers? What do you need to do to increase your comfort level?

  • Flip the tape

We all talk to ourselves constantly and most of what we say is not nice. Challenge your negative thinking and ask yourself “Is this true?”

If it’s not, flip the tape onto a new soundtrack. 

  • Kick procrastination to the curb

We all procrastinate about that which we fear. And public speaking is no different. We tell ourselves that we are bad this, but often the reality is we have procrastinated so much that we have not allowed enough time for us to be good at it. 

You will need to prepare for your presentation. 

Here are the three things to start with:

  1. What is your objective? Why are you giving this talk what would you like to see happen as a result of your presentation?
  2. What are the audience’s expectations? Do they have any burning issues that you need to address?
  3. Start writing. Not on a word doc or PowerPoint slide, but on the largest piece of paper that you can find. Do a brain dump onto a mind map and flesh out your topic.

These three things will help you over the procrastination hurdle and get you moving. 

  • Tap into your values

I coached a woman who was almost paralysed with fear. I asked her why she was doing this to herself. Why was this topic so important? And I saw her come to life as she explained core values and beliefs and I realised that if she tapped into values she could overcome her fear and deliver her message passion

How does your topic connect your core values? Why is your message important?

We all need a level of confidence to speak well and the catalyst for this confidence is courage. 

It’s time to be courageous and choose confidence. 

And if you need me, I’m here to help.

Sharon Ferrier

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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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