Confidence to be YOU!
You know that I’m a presentation skills trainer and in that capacity thousands of people each year tell me they’d like to be more confident.
We know that confidence is something we all need to have a good life. And for a variety of reasons it doesn’t come that easily to most of people.
I’ve put together a few ideas for you on how to improve your overall confidence in business and in life. If you try to do these things everyday of your life, you’ll find your confidence will grow steadily and you’ll start seeing changes in your success in life.
We stand and walk a certain way when we’re confident and another way when we’re nervous. Most people can tell through our body movements whether we’re apprehensive or outgoing, relaxed or aggressive. So avoid your hands in your pockets, don’t cross your arms, stand tall, lift your head up, walk in long strides, breathe from your diaphragm and shake people’s hand firmly. You’ll love the way you feel when you do all this in combination.
Related: How Should You Stand When Presenting
You want your hair, face and even your smell to work for you, not against you. Pay attention to the details. Always shower, use fragrance that works for your body chemistry. Style your hair to flatter your face and dress for your shape. And remember there’s nothing worse than a forest of hair in your nose and ears to make you look unkempt and unprofessional (use Nads nose and ear hair removal wax). Being well-groomed says you’ve got a degree of self-respect, are disciplined and pay attention to detail. These are all qualities that are admired by employers and loved ones alike.
Have you ever tried to think negatively or act sad while smiling? You can’t. It is impossible! Smiling affects our emotions because of a brain-body connection. It triggers scientifically measurable activity in the left frontal cortex—the area of the brain where happiness is registered. Phyllis Diller the American comedian said, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
So, smile often. You will feel more confident and you will look better too.
Direct, connected eye contact
Confident people make eye contact and engage with others. The eye is the window to the soul. Your eye contact reflects your level of interest in the person or audience. When you make eye contact you connect to others deeply. So don’t dart your eyes around, hold your gaze just long enough to connect with the other person.
Heartfelt gratitude is a deep feeling. Unlike forced gratitude (where you make yourself think of the positive even though you feel dreadful), heartfelt gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and connection with life and makes you feel fantastic. Put things into perspective and take some action in your life to contribute in some way to a cause greater than you. Volunteer for something and you’ll find your outlook and start to recognise the good in your life. Some people even keep a gratitude journal where you write what you feel grateful for each day – this may work for you too.
Use an icon
Many excellent presenters use a presenter icon to help them get ‘in the zone’. I often imagine the warm rays of the sun shining all over me and through me to my audience. A client always wears her bright red lipstick to board meetings. A boss I worked with used to play a certain song to pump himself up before training for the day. And Lou Heckler the amazing American Speaker imagines he’s talking with his wife when he presents. You should see the love in his eyes when he’s on stage – powerful stuff. Before you give a presentation, go into a sales meeting, speak to your board or find yourself in a challenging situation, find your icon.
All this is common sense. What is not so common is the ability to read and article and make some positive changes. Please go back now and re-read this article and make a plan to do one thing in each of the 6 categories of confidence every single day. For example,
- breathe diaphragmatically (especially under stress)
- groom myself neatly and will smile more
- look at people and really ‘see’ them in conversations
- write down the 5 things I’m grateful for every day in a journal
- use a particular lipstick or pair of socks to anchor my confidence.”
How can you develop more confidence when presenting in front of an audience?
There is no single thing or magic formula that is a panacea for a lack of confidence when presenting. There are no short cuts, however, I would say that people who are lacking in confidence should consider a change of approach. Begin by writing a slogan in big letters: IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S ALL ABOUT MY AUDIENCE! And then try the following four tips:
Analyse the audience
It’s critical to spend some time analysing both the current and desired state of your audience. One way to do this is to ask yourself: ‘What is my audience thinking about me, my message and my department or company?’, ‘What is my audience feeling about me, my message and my department or company?’ and ‘What will the atmosphere or vibe of the room be like before I present?’ This way you know what to expect when you walk in.
Then, plan your desired outcome by asking yourself, ‘What do I want my audience to think about me, my message and my department or company?’, ‘What do I want the audience to feel about me, my message and my department or company?’ and ‘What do I want them to do once I have finished talking?’
Structure the message
If you have a nice, tight, well-crafted message and you have designed it with a model that allows you to remember the information without relying on notes, then of course you’ll feel more confident! I teach three models for the design and structure of a presentation: 13-steps, 4Mat and Storyboarding. These models help you know what to say and when to say it so that the audience’s needs are met and so you are more likely to change their behaviour.
Connect with the people
When it’s time to deliver your presentation and you’re feeling anxious and nervous, it’s essential to re-read your slogan: IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S ALL ABOUT MY AUDIENCE, and to look into the whites of your audience’s eyes – really see the individuals in the audience, rather than skim their heads or pretend to look at them. Know they are real live humans who you have the wonderful opportunity to influence and help. This takes your focus off your nerves and places your attention on the audience – which in turn enhances your connection or rapport with them. If you are not focused on yourself, how could you be nervous? Remember, it’s not about you, it’s all about the audience!
In my experience, many people focus a lot on their negative points and their nervousness, rather than on their positive attributes like their voice or their personal presentation. Setting up a system in your organisation where you can give and receive feedback from others whom you respect, and who are sensitive to your needs, is a great way of finding out what you are doing well. This can boost your confidence tenfold.
Make sure you write what you are going to do on paper and even better, put it in your on-line calendar so it pops up as an alert and reminds you about your plan. Let me know how I can help you with this further.
Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), Founder of Speakers’ Club, co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best selling internationally published author (Wiley), 8 x nominee for the prestigious Educator Award for Excellence, editor of How to Present magazine, producer of Michelle Bowden TV, and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. Sign up for Michelle’s FREE How to Present magazine TODAY https://michellebowden.com.au