Appearing confident during presentations | © Fola Daniel Adelesi

For a number of people, any opportunity to speak is usually passed down to others and in situations when they cannot pass such opportunities they blow it because they think they are not confident enough to face the people they are supposed to present to and cannot even think about ways out of such situations.
Well I had to revisit appearing confident during presentations because I just got another call from someone who wants to be trained and specifically wants to build the confidence level that seems too low. I think that you have to first settle it in your mind that confidence is not such a big deal if you have the need to face several people! Once you settles this in your mind then we can begin to work around a few other things but when you don’t settle it in your mind then it will be hard, regardless of the professional efforts available, to help you build your confidence level.
It is very important to look into why people think they are not confident enough or why they think they may forget their lines when they get on stage. Why are people afraid of speaking in public and why do they pass their opportunities to speak to others?
Possible reasons for low confidence in speaking
Ignorance – I don’t think you can ever be confident about a presentation when you have very little or no knowledge of the subject being discussed or the subject you are expected to talk about! I can imagine a student who needs to do a presentation in a classroom and has never been a part of discussions on the subject of the presentation! If such student has very little or no time to interact with others on such subjects then it is expected that the presentation is already a failed one! The same goes for someone who needs to take a business presentation and does not have adequate information about the particular field of business that you are to talk about. The simple solution is for you to make sure you talk to several people apart from just doing an internet search for answers. The internet may be able to provide you with answers but they may be technical answers or answers that are just vague! If you take such answers and attempt to present with them you are just going to shoot yourself in the leg!
Low self-esteem – Some people need a lot of motivation regarding their esteem and once they get their esteem in the right level, they can handle a fire-filled presentation for hours! The issues of esteem may just be that some people have problems when they see those who are older than them in the meeting where they are to present. Some others cannot handle it when they see someone who appears powerfully dressed or looking so serious and executive! You need to remember that at that point when you are to present, you are the teacher of all and it may not really matter who’s sitting in the hall. You have the stage and you have a chance to teach everyone regardless of what they already know! Some other people can’t handle a presentation when they see someone they know in the conference room!
Over dependence on presentation tools – I think some presentations fail not because the person does not really have confidence but because the person just puts all his or her confidence in the presentation tools. In some cases it might just be a power point slide or any other presentation aid and you will find that once something goes wrong with the slides or the slide is not forthcoming, then the confidence level just begins to drop! One of the things you may just do to handle this easily is to get to where you are to present some minutes before the meeting starts and talk to the technical guys who will help with your presentation tools. You may even get a chance to rehearse with them if you think that’s important and once that is done, the technical team knows how to help you during your presentation so that you can enjoy it! The alternative you may want to consider is to have a printed copy of the paper you want to present and just switch to it when anything goes wrong with the electronic devices you intend to use. Always remember that you devices are machines that can mess up at any time so you have to be prepared!
Phobia for crowd – If you have the phobia for crowd then you will need to just work on building or improving your personal conversations first. When you successfully build your personal conversation with one or two people then you can work on conversing with three or more people and you would gradually move on to ten people and even more. When you work on building a successful personal conversation or even negotiations with individuals then it will be a lot useful when you have to face a crowd.
There are exercises you can do to help build this confidence level but one of the things we even need to start with is to ask you what your conversation looks like with your friends, family members, school mates or colleagues in your office?
The role of conversation in building confidence
Do you have a wonderful conversational style with friends around you?
Have you ever noticed any one around you who seems to be able to get you to talk even when others don’t seem to trigger your interest or can’t just get you to speak?
Is there someone you would always like to talk to at any point in time?
What’s your general rapport with everyone around you like?
If you are ever going to be very confident as a speaker, I am of the opinion that you would really need to improve your conversational skills with people!
How to improve your conversational skills
You would have to spend some time talking to people
When you notice that you can’t carry the conversation beyond a point then you will have to take notes on why you could not go beyond that point! Did you run out of what to say? Did you get tired of talking to the same person? Did you lose interest in the subject?
You may need to start taking notes before your conversation and the notes you will take should be about points you would like to discuss with the other person you are going to talk to. In taking your notes, you will clear how you want to present those points and also go a step further by envisaging what the response of that person might be. When you preempt the person’s response then you come up with another possible answer that you can give. When you keep doing this, you will realize that you can take the conversation beyond the points that you have ever been able to before that time!
Sometimes you can simply prolong a conversation by asking questions from the people you are talking to. When you start with questions, you will get more information on the subject and that can help you prolong the conversation or make it more interesting to you since you have more information to work with.
If you really have to go a step further and take this very serious then I can suggest that you even get involved in some small stage plays. If you have a good director who has the real knowledge of directing plays and not those who just stumbled on directing then the director should be able to help build your confidence level. To be a good actor you would need some level of confidence in acting out your role to fit in with other characters and come out with a good play. You are going to be taught how to project with your voice and more importantly how to improvise. Another character on stage may forget a line and one of the good qualities of an actor is that you should be able to know how to hint this other person back into the line or better still do a complete improvisation to get the play going. For those reasons, I can suggest you do a little acting to get on with confidence building.
Always remember that you can build your confidence to a desired level but in order to do that, you just have to keep speaking and never turn down any opportunity to do so! In fact, I will suggest you deliberately look for opportunities so speak just to boost your confidence!
Keep Speaking! Keep Speaking! Keep Speaking!
Fola Daniel Adelesi
@foladaniel – twitter
+234 803 416 3006
Fola Daniel Adelesi
Speaker | Author | Consultant
+234 803 416 3006

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