Exuding confidence during your presentation is one of the most critical things you can do, as any audience is more likely to be influenced by a speaker if they perceive them as confident.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself, if you’ve ever been in the room with a speaker who didn’t communicate confidence to his or her audience.
You are likely to have had one of two reactions. Perhaps you mentally linked the calibre of the content with the confidence of the speaker, assumed the content wasn’t going to be any good and switched off. Alternatively, you could have had an empathetic reaction, feeling sorry for the speaker. Whilst this reaction tells me that you are likely to be a lovely person, it would also have instantly reduced the credibility of the speaker in your eyes.
This is why it’s so important to get you feeling totally confident from the outset and enable you to project that to the audience from the very beginning of your talk.
There are actually two elements to confidence – ‘surface confidence’ and ‘deep confidence’. It’s importance to develop both if you want to convince the audience that you know what you are talking about.
Accessing a resourceful state can unlock surface confidence
In order to develop surface confidence, you need to get yourself into a ‘resourceful state’, so that your thoughts, emotions and neurology are all working together to make you appear confident, calm and knowledgeable.
There are several things you can do in the thirty minutes before a talk in order to access this state. For example, you could try visualising a successful result – like sports professionals such as Michael Phelps do. Phelps would spend hours before every race visualising coming first or diving perfectly. He attributed his success, in part, to this practice.
Bear in mind, that most people catastrophize, they think of the worst thing that could happen and have that in their mind instead. It’s important to focus on which ideas are running through your head and move from negative to positive outcome.
Secondly, try diaphragmatic breathing techniques to help you access a resourceful state. Try breathing in through your nose for a count of seven, hold for a count of seven, and out through the mouth for a count of seven. Do this for five minutes and you will automatically feel more relaxed and calmer.
Thirdly, try using power poses. Developed by Amy Cuddy, adopting a confident posture, such as the ‘superhero’ pose can help to actually make you feel more confident. Give it a go!
Mindset Management for Deep Confidence
Deep confidence is about your mindset. Your mindset will determine your behaviour. Your brain always wants to prove its own hypothesis, so if you believe that you are a bad presenter, you brain will try to prove ‘you’ right and allow you to fail. If you can change your belief to the fact that you are an ‘improving presenter’ your brain will instead work to prove that hypothesis right.
Deep confidence can also be developed through relentless practice. It’s not fun, and it’s not always a comfortable experience, but practice is one sure way to get better at anything you are trying to achieve, and to feel confident about it. Take the plunge and start practising. Tiger Woods completed 10,000 hours of golf practice before he was even ten. I don’t expect you to have time for more than a few hours of presentation practice, but it all helps.
So, that’s Habit 3 – develop a healthy mindset and know how to get into a resourceful state and you are bound to become a better speaker!
If you’d like to find out about the other 11 habits of exceptional speakers, why not get yourself a copy of my guide to this framework or share this with a colleague. This guide outlines the exact approach that I follow with my coaching clients. You’ll find it here.