Presentation Confidence – how to reduce those dreaded nerves

30th January 2018

Last week, I told you the four body parts to focus on when you’re presenting. They make you appear confident, even if you aren’t. (Quick reminder – feet, hands, eyes and chin).

This week’s technique concerns the other side – how to help you feel more confident.

And there are lots of things you can do to help. These are the ones I find work best:

  1. Ask about content. Wherever possible, speak to the person who’s asked you to present. Ask them “what topics do you want me to talk about?” Once they tell you, you know exactly what they want. And your confidence goes right up. After all, you don’t open your mouth, quaking with fear, thinking “I wonder if they care about what I’m about to say?”
  2. Ask questions early. Whenever appropriate, include a couple of questions in the first minute of your presentation. That gets the audience interacting with you. They’ll enjoy it more. And you won’t feel as nervous, thinking the presentation’s success hinges solely on you being eloquent for the next 45 minutes. Also, once they’ve started joining in, they tend to keep doing so. No more one-way presentation. It’s now a two way chat
  3. Nail the start. When your start goes well, it builds your confidence. When it goes badly, it wrecks it. So, practise your opening sentence out loud at least 15-20 times. Be 100% sure you’ll deliver it well
  4. Get introduced. Ask someone to introduce you. Whenever I ask for introductions, I ask for two things – why the topic’s important, and why they’ve chosen me to present on it. That way, I don’t have to sell the topic or me. I can just crack on
  5. Practise the titles. Your titles should give your presentation a sense of flow. So, before you do a full run-through, simply read just the titles out loud loads of times. This gives you a greater sense of flow, and helps add pace to your presentation
  6. Practise the run-through. People usually start their run-throughs at the beginning. And, if things go wrong, they go back to the beginning and start again. But this means you’ve practised the beginning loads of times, and the end not very often. So practise just the first half a few times. And then the second half a few times. And then do a full run-through
  7. Empty your slides. It’s very hard to present confidently if you have to spend 95% of your time reading busy slides. So, remove as many words as you can from the slides. By all means, give yourself speaker notes. But put them in your hands; not on the big shiny screen the audience is looking at
  8. Assume it’ll work. Before you present, you’re going to assume something – either it’ll work, or it won’t. Why would you assume it won’t work? That just means that you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Instead, assume it’ll go really well. And it tends to
  9. Get coaching. If you feel you need extra help, that’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. Contact somebody good, and ask for their guidance

There are others you can think of, I’m sure.

But it’s important you give yourself every chance to be successful.

My favourite ones are the top three – always ask about content upfront, prepare a couple of opening questions, and practise the start loads of times.

I find that, when I do that, I feel pretty good before I stand up.

Which tends to mean things go okay.

All of which makes a huge difference – to the audience and to me.

Action Point

For your next presentation, don’t just think that preparation involves content. It’s more than that. How are you going to practise? How are you going to make sure you feel confident? Include confidence building as a key part of your prep.  More free stuff – month 4 of my Video Club has loads of advice on presentations. Here’s one of them. it shows the four things to master every time you present.

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