Self-Confidence: The Key to a Great Presentation


Whether you are handling some staff training, speaking briefly at a local chamber of commerce meeting, or making a vital sales presentation, there are several ways you can screw it up. By far the biggest though is a lack of self-confidence.

Even the most accomplished speakers get nervous or anxious before a major speech or presentation – it comes with the territory. This is sometimes referred to as the fight or flight response. Your adrenal glands pump stress hormones which cause a chain reaction, your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises, adrenaline increases, blood recirculates filling the nerve endings in your stomach and that leads to butterflies. Often, it is a positive, adrenalin-fueled nervousness that when channeled makes your presentation even better.

Anxiety often stems from a desire to be liked, or a fear of making a fool of oneself. Is this justified? In reality, audiences are usually neutral, if anything they expect to be bored. They are hoping to gain at least one nugget of good information – anything more is a bonus. Basically, their expectations are far lower than you think. One thing to remember is that they want to like you; they want to give you a chance.

The trick with nervousness is to convert it into power. Rename the emotion and fight, don’t take flight. Take control – take the leap and start the presentation. Once you do, those butterflies will become “flutterbyes” – they will disappear because all your attention is on the audience and the information you wish to impart. To do this, however, you need to know your stuff – you need to be prepared.

Here is a short exercise. What is your passion in life? Is it your children, a hobby, theater, food? It doesn’t matter, just think about the thing you are most passionate about and arrange to talk about it to someone for five minutes. Choose a person that you are not too close to, someone who hasn’t heard you talk about it previously. How does that make you feel? Excited, rather than nervous? That’s because you know your passion topic intimately, in fact, once you get started it will almost certainly be difficult to limit your talk to just five minutes. Now think about doing exactly the same thing on a random topic that you know little to nothing about. Your heart rate probably went up just thinking about it.

Pre-presentation nerves usually stem from not being sure of what you are going to say and how you are going to present the information. Before making a speech, or making a sales presentation be one hundred percent confident that you know your stuff inside out, back to front. If you do that, your self-confidence will soar.

Here are nine mantras to help you build your self-confidence before facing an audience.

  1. They are on my side.

  2. They need to hear what I have to say.

  3. I care about them.

  4. I am pleased to be presenting them with this information.

  5. I am prepared and this is good material – I know my stuff!

  6. I feel good about myself.

  7. I can imagine myself doing a good job.

  8. I am excited, enthusiastic, and passionate about what I have to say.

  9. I am committed to doing my best.

Historically the Greeks have been great orators. They talk about the importance of ethos, pathos, and logos. They are worth considering before preparing for every speech no matter its length, or importance.

Ethos focuses on your beliefs and your willingness, or enthusiasm to present them with courage. Pathos refers to the passion you have for your topic and how much of yourself you are willing to give to the audience. Logos is using your brain to formulate your thoughts and words.

If you use ethos, pathos, and logos, and then connect your message with the goals of your audience, your presentation will be powerful and confidently delivered.

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