Present with confidence
If you’ve ever sat in a meeting or a presentation with a room full of people that you don’t know there’s usually one or two people that stand out, not because they’re the loudest or the most talkative, and not always because they’re the ones presenting.
These people have an aura, you know they’re in control, if you ask them a question you probably won’t challenge the answer because it’s been delivered in such a way it must be right. They look content in their own company, they’re not bothered about following the crowd, they’re never buried in their phones avoiding eye contact.
These are the confident ones. At least they look confident!
Confidence gets you places, it unlocks doors, builds relationships, inspires others and it can give you an amour of protection in situations when you're out of your comfort zone. Some people are lucky enough to be naturally confident, for others it just needs a bit of work but it’s not unattainable.
The question is how do you project confidence when you feel that it’s your weakest point, or when you’re in unknown territory and feel out of your depth eg. presenting to a group of people, chairing a meeting or putting a proposal forward to your manager. These are situations when all eyes are on you, you’re expected to be the leader, the facilitator and, in some cases, the expert.
We all have confidence lurking beneath the surface but sometimes we just don’t know it, or we do but it's easier staying in our comfort zone. We’re never very good at selling ourselves, it’s a natural instinct to deflect compliments, or under sell a great job we’ve just completed. So how do we bring our confidence out?
Knowledge + Passion + Preparation = Confidence
What gives you confidence is knowing your subject, believing in it and, if you are presenting, allowing enough time to prepare it. Consider the times when you’ve spoken about a subject that you're passionate about. Your enthusiasm and knowledge will shine through, your audience will be engaged which further motivates your story telling. This is confidence.
Preparation is the key to guaranteeing engagement. If you’ve ever been in a meeting and the chair is ill prepared it can make the audience feel uncomfortable and the engagement can be lost from the outset. However, if chair is prepared and in control you automatically feel at ease and open to listening.
Know your subject, research it, double check it and add relatable anecdotes that aid story telling so its memorable and not a boring script. Rehearse it to colleagues, friends and family.
Timing is everything!
Check your timings and know your audience - what level are you presenting too, how much time do they have, you might have booked an hours meeting - they may only give you 30 minutes. Allow time for questions and for technical issues, always have print outs just in case. Recruit one of your team to take notes and keep an eye on the time if you can.
When your presentation is engaging, informative and succinct that 30 minutes that your audience originally stated can turn into the hour you'd planned.
The more content you can memorise the more free flowing, engaging and passionate you can be with the story telling so the slides just become an aid memoir, a timing check or a place holder for infographics.
Try it, challenge your comfort zone, you never know you might like it.