In last month’s blog, we looked at how to manage nerves when they kick-in when you are presenting or speaking in public. This month’s blog will give you some tips on how to build your confidence when presenting or speaking in public.
One method I use to control my nerves whether it’s prior to giving a sales pitch, speaking at a conference or presenting on radio is the ‘breath and move’ exercise.
Breath and Move Exercise
- Stand still and ensure your posture is portraying confidence e.g. hold up your head, straighten out your back, stand feet shoulder distance apart (if you are a man) or hip distance apart (if you are a woman). Keep your hands and arms by your sides or have your finger-tips gently touching one another
- Take a deep breath (as above) and relax into your position and space – remember to ‘own’ your space!
- Start to move around your space in a controlled manner – make your movements fluid and slow – fast movement makes you look and feel more nervous
- Take nice, long, slow deep breaths as you move around your space
- Return to your original position (step 1 from above) and breathe deeply again.
Run through this exercise several times until you start feeling comfortable and less nervous. Just remember to control your body movement, your movements should be fluid, not fast or erratic.
The 2nd method I use is a simple visualisation exercise.
- Either standing in a comfortable position or sitting comfortably, close your eyes
- Take a few deep breaths and start imagine yourself delivering your presentation
- Imagine how you will walk up the stage or to the front of the room
- Imagine how you will:
- calmly introduce yourself and start your presentation
- confidently look around and make eye contact with your audience
- smile and be relaxed but energised
- continue your presentation with authority and confidence
- happily, thank your audience
- confidently return to your position prior to no 1) above.
Again, you may need to run through this exercise a few times until you start to feel relaxed and confident.
Why it works
When you repeatedly imagine performing a task, you also fire up and create new positive neurons associated with that task so when you go to present for real, your ‘exercised’ positive neurons will kick-in!
The above exercises will help build your confidence and manage your nerves when presenting or speaking in public. You can also use all of the above exercises to manage nerves to speak and present with more confidence in the following situations:
- Interviews – whether you are being interviewed or you are interviewing!
- Managing and participating in meetings
- Presenting – to small groups or at a conference
- Giving feedback and having difficult conversations
If you would like help building up your confidence, you may be interested in our Assertiveness & Building Confidence online course which can be taken in your own time and at your convenience. Please click here for more details.