Feeling confident is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Even the most confident person can experience nerves before a big presentation or key meeting.
Here are some tips on how to speak and present yourself with confidence.
Know your audience
Think about the knowledge and experience of the people in your audience:
- Do they understand technical terms and industry jargon, or are you best to explain your ideas in basic terms? Try to speak in a language they can understand.
- What is your audience interested in? Try tailoring some examples or anecdotes to their everyday life and talk about stories that they can relate to.
- What does your audience have in common? Are they all from the same workplace or community – think about how to connect with the audience though a shared story.
- You could also find a way to engage your audience with an opening question or activity that relates to your topic. For example, “How did you get to work today?” for a presentation on transport issues or “What did you eat for breakfast?” for a talk on nutrition.
Understand your topic
Chances are, you know more about your topic than anyone else in the room. It’s probably why you’ve been asked to present. However, it’s also beneficial to consider your topic from the audience’s point of view – how much do they already know and what areas interest them?
You could conduct a brief questionnaire ahead of time, using an online tool such as Survey Monkey or have an informal chat with some of the attendees before the formal start time.
Current news and latest developments in your topic can add relevance and timeliness, so a quick internet search just before you present could give you a great news story to share.
Fake it till you make it (aka, believe in yourself)
Before presenting at the United Nations, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and British actress Emma Watson admitted to feeling terrified and like an imposter. Yet, she managed to deliver an empowering and highly praised speech on gender equality. Emma is not alone.
Imposter syndrome was identified in 1978 by US researchers and is more likely to be experienced by women. These individuals often experience feelings of fraud, or the belief that they are not intelligent or capable, despite evidence of high achievement. So even if you don’t feel confident, act like you do – because most likely, you actually have very good reason to be!