In Truman Capote’s Novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly says, ‘Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot’. There’s a lot of truth in that.
Confidence is a skill we can acquire over time. As we travel through life, circumstance and the people around us, will either help our confidence to grow or will inhibit it.
Being confident in front of a group of 10 or 10,000 can be a daunting experience. But for many of us it is an important aspect of our job, whether you work in sales, PR or as a lecturer being able to deliver a presentation well and with confidence is a vital skill.
Here are five ways to increase your confidence to make sure your presentation is a memorable one.
1. Take in Your Audience Using Eye Contact
Before you begin, take a moment to really look at your audience. Connect with people’s eyes. Make sure that eye contact is shared throughout your presentation. I have witnessed many presentations where the speaker’s focus is solely on the front row where key people are sitting. Trust me, they won’t thank you for it. No one, whoever they are, likes that much attention. If it’s a larger group pick areas to speak to so that the entire group is covered. Make the audience feel as though you’re connecting with each of them on an individual level.
2. Use Pauses
Holding silence is a great indication that someone is at ease and therefore confident. Find moments in your presentation when you can really hold that silence – maybe when you’ve just asked a question or dropped in a provocative statement. Remember that your time runs faster than your audience’s. They have other things running through their head whilst you’re speaking and will not feel the same time pressure as you.
If you are someone who finds it hard to hold a pause then experiment in social situations by silently counting before you answer. See how far you can extend it. Just like exercise it will get easier the more you practice and will improve your delivery no end.
3. What Number Are You?
We all naturally carry confidence differently. One person’s high is not the same as another’s. Sit in a café and you can easily spot those who are confident people and those who are not – and they don’t even need to speak. It’s their body language. If you believe most studies on the subject, it’s the biggest factor in us telling whether someone is confident or not. Consider confidence as a range from 1 to 10. 1 = no eye contact, hunched physique and is usually displayed by someone who is highly introverted. 10 would be the opposite – think Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey. Using numbers is a short cut to play with your confidence. If you feel like a 6 what would you need to do to be an 8? When you next walk out to present make sure you give yourself a high number.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Screw Up
Confident people tend to be in the present moment, they aren’t thinking about what just happened or what might happen. This means if they screw up on the wrong sales figures or can’t remember where the next factory is being built, they’ll be able to laugh and move on without losing the trust of their audience. It is never about our mistakes when we present, it’s all about how well we recover from them.
Film director Michael Bay’s recent meltdown at the 2014 CES press event for Samsung is an example to us all of NOT being in the moment. Let down by a malfunctioning teleprompter Bay panicked and couldn’t even talk about what he did for a living. We’ve all probably done it, although maybe not on such a global scale. There are a lot of common mistakes people make whilst presenting which could affect your confidence and the audience’s confidence in you.
Disclosure is an incredibly powerful presentation technique when it’s used authentically and with relevance. Disclosure lets us in to the normally private world of the person standing in front of us – we learn how they are like us, and have had similar experiences.
If you can genuinely find stories from your own life experiences and then intertwine them with your message, you will be perceived not only as a highly skilled speaker but also as a confident one.
Steve Jobs was considered to be one of the greatest presenters of the modern age. His presentations are some of the most played anywhere in the world. He was also a great believer in meticulous rehearsals to make sure everything went smoothly. On the rare occasions it didn’t, and for a brief few minutes on the iPhone’s launch in 2007 it didn’t, he disclosed a simple story about him and his business partner Steve Wozniack when they were at college until the glitch had been fixed.
This guest post was written by Josh Hansen. Josh writes on a wide range of career and employment topics for some of the most respected websites in the industry. He wrote this article on presenting with confidence with Edison Red in mind.