How to become a more Confident Presenter and Leader
Updated: Sep 5
(Click on this link to Part 1 if you've missed it.)
As I mentioned in my previous article, self-confidence and self-esteem are very different.
Self-esteem is the value or worth we hold as true about ourselves and is unconditional.
Self-confidence is our ability to do something, and it is conditional.
It goes up or down, depending on whether we believe we can do something or not. E.g. I have a high level of confidence that I can brush my teeth and tie my shoelaces. I have very low confidence in being able to fly a plane!
What about you? What is something simple you've got a high level of confidence in, and what's something you can emphatically say, nah, I can't do that?
Barbary Markway Ph.D., "Self-confidence is linked to almost every element involved in a happy and fulfilling life."
Additional research indicates that confidence is also important for our overall health and psychological well-being.
As presenters, if we don't have confidence in our ability to present, that's when fear, anxiety and nervousness step in, and oftentimes, run the show, resulting in physical manifestations like dry mouth, shaky knees, hands, speeding up and ultimately - hating it.
If we want to increase enjoyment of presenting, so we can ultimately share our important ideas and messages with the world, we need to be confident in what we're doing.
In my over 20 years' worth of experience as a presenter, across multiple platforms, and presenting to a wide ranges of audiences, I've come to know that confidence is not this elusive little kitty cat we've got to chase.
Confidence comprises of 3 key components:
There is SO much confusion about these 3, so let's start by getting clear on what they are, so we can look at how to get them.
According to the Oxford Languages, capacity is derived from the Latin word, capacitas, from capax, capac- ‘that can contain’, from capere ‘take or hold’.
The Collins Dictionary defines it as, "the ability to do or produce."
My definition for capacity is:
Capacity is how much we can hold, to produce a specific outcome.
I.e. How much time, energy, desire, aptitude, support - the resources we have at our disposal to do something in particular.
E.g. I don't have the desire, or aptitude to become a NASA astronaut, or brain surgeon, but I do have the capacity to create and deliver exciting services that uplift, empower and inspire others.
The first problem we need to address is that many companies want their staff members or leaders to become better public speakers, but they don't first check to see whether they've got the capacity to do so.
This is critical to their success and an essential starting point.
Levels of capacity are conditional and change, depending on what is happening in our lives.
E.g. Someone who is full to the brim with work, hasn't slept well in days, and has had a sick child to take care of and little to no support at work, might have less energy, desire and time to create and deliver a presentation, in comparison to someone who still has a busy work schedule, but is energised, healthy and being supported at work and at home.
A common definition of capability is: (Merriam-Webster) the quality or state of being capable. The ability to perform a specific set of actions or achieve a specified set of outcomes.
Specifically in business, it describes whether or not an organisation, unit, or team knows how to do something, understand specific processes and has the equipment required.
My definition is:
Capability is ability, developed from specific skills and knowledge.
If I want to be a great public speaker, I need to be trained in specific skills and knowledge, e.g. how to engage an audience effectively, how to structure professional presentations, how to write engaging content, design compelling slides, engage an audience effectively, manage nerves and anxiety, not sound monotonous etc.
These are very tangible learning outcomes that need to be learnt and developed for us to start believing and experiencing ourselves capable of doing something.
Merriam Webster defines it as, "The quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill, or strength."
And the Oxford Dictionary, "the ability to do something well"
I define it simply as:
Competence is how proficiently we perform.
We can only become competent in public speaking by doing public speaking, by practicing, and practicing correctly!
Malcolm Gladwell stated that, 'Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours."
The problem is, we can practice to our heart's content, but if we're not practicing correctly, we're just reinforcing bad habits that increase competence in our incompetence.
Getting professional support from a Speaker Coach is critical to ensuring you are rehearsing correctly, and not further entrenching bad habits.
Another BIG challenge facing many leaders face is being time poor.
This leads to many of them 'winging it' and not investing enough time into practicing, which leads to content that's all over the show, poor body language habits and oftentimes, an exceptionally disjointed presentation that disappoints.
A quick way to combat a lack to time to prepare is to have a specific, streamlined process to follow every time you have to create a presentation, so you create it quickly.
Also, knowing your learning style can help you learn your presentation quicker! I.e. are you a visual, kinaesthetic, auditory or auditory digital learner?
Here's a 5-min video I made about this (many years ago), to help you understand your learning style, which can help save you time the next time you're rehearsing.
Conversely, being 'over prepared' from too much practice can result in presentations that are stale, boring and lack any spontaneity, which will bore most audiences.
International communication pioneer, Nancy Duarte rehearsed her Ted Talk 35 hours before delivering it!
There's a delicate balance to developing competence and it's different for each of us.
Knowing how much practice is enough for you to build competence, while still allowing your secret spontaneous sauce to come through is key!
Mary Jo Putney said, "Competence is a great creator of Confidence."
When we get that balance right, competence will help build confidence to get up there and wow the crowd!
The only way we're going to develop great confidence, is by developing all three components until eventually
Confidence becomes Conviction.
Here's where things get reeeeally interesting!
At the intersections of these three key components is what most are all looking for when it comes to public speaking:
Having the capacity to develop our skills and knowledge, so we develop our presenting capability, will EMPOWER us to deliver great presentations.
Having the capability and practicing those skills and knowledge sufficiently, enables us to ENGAGE our audience effectively.
And finally, having the capacity to build a level of competence in our presenting abilities will help us to ENJOY it, because we've reached a point of competence that frees us up to BE present, trust ourselves and our capabilities and make the impact we want.
Finally, I want to leave you with this thought.
Confidence is like a 3-legged table. If it's missing a leg, it won't hold up when we need it.
There's a secret 4th component to Confidence that I'll share in article 3. The one thing that holds it all together, so that it holds us up without fail, every time we present!
Thanks for reading. I hope you've found this article valuable.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on your journey with confidence, and any insights you might've gleamed so far.
Until next time, all the best,
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