How to appear more confident when presenting
Being able to present confidently is a skill, and like any other skill it requires plenty of practice in order to develop and improve it. By practising your presentation skills on a regular basis means you will be honing your overall communication skills as well as boosting your self-confidence.
Preparation & planning is key to you delivering a successful presentation, whether it’s delivered virtually or in-person. Being prepared will also calm your mind and help manage your nerves before delivering your presentation.
By focusing on each of the 3 key areas below, you’ll not only look more confident when presenting but feel it too, meaning you will have a more enjoyable presenting experience.
1. Your Voice
When presenting virtually, make sure to speak clearly and a bit louder than your normal conversational voice. Remember people are listening to you on their PC or phone so their audio may not be as clear as when they’re in the same room as you. They can adjust the volume at their end if they need to, so don’t worry about being too loud.
Use varying levels of your pitch, speed and tone to add a bit of excitement into your presentation, and make sure to emphasise key words or phrases to amplify your message.
If presenting in-person to a group of people, project your voice to the back of the room so everyone can hear you. Be sure to project from your diaphragm rather than your throat though, otherwise you will come across as shouting at your audience, which is never good! Watch this short video to learn more about the diaphragmatic breathing technique.
Another way to instil confidence is to pause regularly, don’t be afraid of silence! This is effective in both virtual and in-person presentations. However, if presenting virtually then remember to make a small movement when you pause so the audience know that the screen hasn’t frozen!
2. Your Body
One of the most common questions we are asked by our clients is “what do I do with my hands when presenting?” Our top answer to this question is to notice what you do with them normally when you are having an everyday conversation. This will be your natural movement and will therefore look most natural to you when you present, helping you to look more confident.
Be aware though that the size of your gestures needs to be smaller when you are presenting virtually. Hand movements/gestures typically need to be around shoulder height, so they are visible on screen, but are not covering your face. Also make sure you don’t move them too close to the camera otherwise they will look big!
When you are presenting in-person, your gestures need to be bigger and more pronounced so everyone in the audience can see them. We recommend you bring your arms out level with your waist, as though you are holding a beach ball. Use the same gestures as you would do in a normal conversation, just exaggerate them slightly so people at the back of the room can see what you’re doing.
Another way to help you feel more confident is to be mindful of what you are wearing. Whether you are presenting in-person or virtually, wear smart, comfortable clothing and maybe accessorise with something that is special to you. It could be a piece of jewellery, a tie pin, or an item of clothing, for example. Anything that will help you to feel good about yourself, or makes you smile. This will help to give your confidence a lift.
One thing to keep in mind is colours and patterns, when presenting virtually. Strong solid colours can look very well – particularly if you have a plain light coloured background. Usually white or very pale colours can make you look washed out or make you appear to blend into the background. Definitely avoid pinstripes and loud plaids – not a good look on screen.
3. Your Mind
Before you deliver your presentation, get yourself in the right frame of mind.
Give yourself a pep talk, watch a funny video, take a walk around the block – anything that will help lift you up, empower you, and make you feel good about yourself. Think about how music can help you. Listen to your favourite song, maybe play a fast song if you need to be energised, or a piece of classical music or a slow song if you want to get into a calmer state of mind.
The first impression you give will remain with your audience, whether you’re presenting virtually or in-person, so make sure it’s a great one!
Speaking of your audience, remember they want you to give a good presentation – they’re rooting for you, they are on your side and are human beings just like you! They certainly don’t want you to feel like you’ve failed!
Be mindful of your audience. They are there because they want to be. They want to connect with you, they want to relate to what you are saying. Your presentation should be about them, so focus on them! This will help shift your attention from yourself – and all the “what if” scenarios that are going through your head – to your audience and what they are going to gain from listening to you.
Being a confident speaker doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But by focusing on the above tips and practising as much as possible, you will feel better prepared and more confident when you next present.