How to be a Confident Presenter – 10 Easy Steps

How to become a confident presenter…

…and banish your fear of public speaking

There is no one cure for the fear of public speaking.  Each person is different. At the same time, whatever your fears, they can be overcome.

You can be a confident presenter if you follow these simple steps. Then, you will look confident, feel confident and ultimately become confident about public speaking. We have coached thousands of people to help them deliver confident persuasive talks and presentations.

Ten top tips for confident presenting and public speaking

  1. Start planning early

  2. Make the talk about your audience

  3. Start strong

  4. Use a clear structure

  5. Bring it to life

  6. Talk to one person at a time

  7. Use short phrases and short words

  8. Plenty of pauses

  9. Look people in the eye

  10. Practice

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How to be a confident presenter

1. Confident presenting: Start planning your talk early

As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Start work as soon as you can and let your talk evolve. A few notes on a blank sheet of paper is the perfect beginning. The less public speaking you do, the more preparation you need. Even experienced speakers will tell you the value of time in creating a great confident talk.

2.  Present confidently: Turn your presentation so it’s about them, not about you

This is one of the most powerful techniques to help build confidence. By repositioning your talk so it’s about the audience rather then about you, you’ll find it easier to be confident and engaging.

For example, rather than talking about “What we did to make this project a success” talk about “How this project will help you achieve your sales targets.”

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3. How to sound confident presenting: Craft a powerful start

When you start well, it’s easier to continue well. Your first 30 seconds are the most important part of your talk. If unsure how to start, use a tried and tested approach that others have proven. Get your start right and the rest will feel much easier.

4. How to feel present confidently: Use a clear structure

If you make it easy for your audience to follow your talk, you will make it easier for you to give it. Generally it is smarter to have a few good ideas covered well rather than a lot of ideas covered quickly. Give yourself a strong start, a simple logical framework and a powerful end.

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5. How to be a confident presenter: Bring your talk to life

Beware of a fact-laden presentation. The best talks are animated with stories, metaphors, observations and personal anecdotes. One story is worth a dozen pages of data.

6. How to present confidently: Talk to one person at a time

Unless you really are a politician who needs to win thousands of votes, beware of declaiming to the masses. Instead imagine your talk as a conversation – one person at a time. You will find it much easier to give your talk when you use the same language, structure and phrasing that you use when talking to one person.

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7. How to feel confident presenting: Use short phrases and short words

Winston Churchill said “Short words are best and old words when short are the best of all.” Edit your talk to use shorter, simpler phrases and words. The simpler you can make it, the more authoritative and confident you will sound.

8. How to sound confident presenting: Include plenty of pauses

Pauses in your talk – are like white space in a piece of design. They give it meaning and form. A pause is a time for your audience to absorb what you have said – and for you to compose your next phrase. Use them to separate ideas – and point your audience to what is important.

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9. How to present confidently: Look people in the eye

When you have eye contact it is
(1)  more interesting for your audience, and
(2) helps you adjust to the pace of your audience.

Aim to speak to one person for each sentence or two.

10. How to become confident for ever: Practise

You can make yourself confident through practice.  Psychological research says that those who pretend to be confident eventually become more confident. So, learn how to look confident and then continue. Fake it until you make it.

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You may be surprised to find how many known public speakers actually share a fear of public speaking. But they know they have to look good to be successful. So they work at it, often with professional coaches and trainers. Over the years we have helped many CEOs and senior executives overcome their fear of public speaking.

You can do the same.

Remember: we all feel nervous when we talk in public. This is a good thing.  If we didn’t feel nervous public speaking, then we would not be taking our work seriously. Use these tips for confident business presentations.

Even Churchill had a fear of public speaking

First thing to realise is that everyone good feels nervous when presenting. Even Winston Churchill, did not like public speaking and felt uncomfortable doing so. But, like many of us, he realised that to succeed in his profession he had to focus his nervous energy.

Use your nervous energy to look confident

Your nervous energy can be used and channelled. Much of the feeling of nerves is because of a rush of adrenaline that can be used for fright or flight. The trick that successful speakers use is to focus the energy into their talk. Rather than a wobbly voice, shaking hands or nervous body posture, you can channel the energy into a louder voice, more animated talking or stronger hand gestures.

Use relaxation exercises to reduce speaking nerves

For different people, different relaxation exercises work. Some of the most common exercises include:

  • slow, steady breathing
  • imaging a smiling happy audience
  • rapid shaking of hands;
  • holding your fingers in the OM mudra position

Your nerves don’t show

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we often use cameras in business presentation training. We use these to show that even when you feel nervous, you can look confident when presenting. Most of the time the audience is unaware of the inner turmoil that a speaker is going through. By demonstrating that the audience is unaware of a speaker’s inner feelings,  speakers relax more.

Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking in Three Steps

Do you fear public speaking? Do you feel nervous when you stand up and speak?  Does it make your heart race or your body go sweaty?

Fear of public speaking is widespread.  When we coach people to become better public speakers, it’s one of the most common problems we see.  What many people don’t know is that many famous people also share this fear.  Winston Churchill is a great example of a leader who did not enjoy public speaking, but you would never guess that he felt uncomfortable.

In fact, many of the CEOs we work with have admitted to sharing this same fear.  One CEO of a FTSE 250 company even told us: “All my life I have avoided presentations.  But now I am the CEO and I have staff, shareholders and analysts all who want me to present.  What do I do?”

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How To Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

First, there is no simple solution.  Each person is different.  Some people suggest that you should imagine your audience naked. We are not great believers in that approach.  But, if that works for you, great.

A few weeks ago we worked with an Irish woman at a large oil company.  She was convinced that she was a terrible public speaker. She hated public speaking and that she believed she would never enjoy speaking in public.  After working with her for a few hours she (and we) realised that she had a real talent.  She was sharp and she was witty. She could harness words and humour to transform complex ideas into clear communication.  Afterwards, she understood that she had to completely rethink her self image. Then she could demonstrate her huge public speaking talent.

The Benjamin Ball Associates approach to overcoming the fear of public speaking is a 3-step process:

STEP 1 – Start with a good talk

Most public speaking problems occur because the presentation is crap.  If you start with a poor talk, it’s going to be a poor performance and you have every right to feel scared.  A great talk is easier to deliver.  There is plenty of advice in this blog about how to write a brilliant presentation.

STEP 2 – Change the relationship between you and the audience

Does a teacher feel scared when standing up in front of pupils every day?  Does a lecturer feel scared when speaking to students?  Work out what your audience will get from your talk.  Then, like a teacher, set out to make sure you achieve your goal. By having a clear goal, it is easier to feel less exposed when speaking. Speak directly to your audience, as you would to a friend.

STEP 3 – Practice

You get better by practising.  And practice does not mean going through your first written draft over and over again.  It means testing your first script, refining what does not work so you make it better and better each time.  When I prepare for a big talk, I might  change half my talk during the practice. “If you falter, alter.” should be your preparation motto.

There is no simple solution to reducing presentation nerves.  It’s something that gets better over time.   But to reduce your presentation nerves you need to work at it.

Anyone can be a confident public speaker, it just takes practice.

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Start your journey to world-class public speaking skills now

First, download our free ebook to start your journey towards becoming a Powerful Presenter.

You’ll learn our 5-step process for transforming dull, forgettable and un-engaging presentations into your most Powerful Presentations yet: inspirational, memorable and persuasive.

It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your leadership talks and presentations, including:

  • Increased confidence when you talk and present.
  • Improved ability to persuade your audience.
  • Greater engagement with your audience.
  • Practical ways to plan and structure your talks.
  • The inspiration and motivation to change.

Download your free copy of our Five Steps to Transform your Leadership Talks ebook now.

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About Benjamin Ball Associates

Benjamin Ball Associates Team

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help clients to communicate better.

Over 12+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email to find out more and discuss your upcoming speech or presentation.

Contact us to transform your presenting skills

Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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