Many of my clients have confessed to me that they struggle with their confidence lever during first few minutes of their presentation. If they can do that, they believe the rest of the presentation will be okay.
What they are revealing is that they don’t know how to start with confidence, and they need a long runway.
That’s a risky way to approach your presentation because the opening is critical to the success of your presentation. Your audience is making decisions during those opening moments. If you’re using that time to warm up – you might be turning them off.
What can you do to look and feel more confident with your first words?
During Your Introduction
Sit or stand proud while you are being introduced. While the audience is listening to your introduction – which should briefly confirm your credibility for this topic – your audience will study you. They will be checking to see if the picture matches the words. This is not the time to feign humility. Look proud while your achievements are listed.
You might not always have a formal introduction. However, any introduction should be used to your benefit. Caution: Look proud and confident but not pompous and arrogant.
Start your presentation calmly. Speak slower than normal. You might feel awkward. That’s why you need to practice to get it right
There are three reasons to start slowly.
1. It helps you feel calm. Speaking slowly will allow you to breathe deeply and that relaxes you.
2.Your audience will have a better chance to tune into your voice. This is especially relevant when they don’t know you and/or you have an accent that sounds different from their norm.
3.Speaking slowly deepens your voice. That makes it easier to hear your words and conveys more confidence.
Start with a Positive Statement
If you start with a negative – the audience will tune out. When you start with a positive, they are more likely to listen.
If you are feeling nervous then this is the one time that you are allowed to tell a lie. That lie is, “I’m happy to be here today.” You might not feel that way at the time but if you state it with enough conviction you might persuade your audience and yourself of that constructive white lie.
Those opening moments are critical to establish your credibility and confidence with the audience. Don’t waste that time trying to work up your confidence. Instead, start with confidence and convey that with your first words. You owe that to your audience before you can expect them to listen to your presentation.