Three Tips to Confident and Credible Presentations
Tomorrow is the big day. You’re going to deliver a presentation to the management team. While you’re excited about your recommendation, the thought of standing up and presenting leaves you feeling more than a little nervous. What if you forget what to say? Where will you stand? Where should you look? How do you stop your heart from pounding? If any of this sounds familiar, you may not come across as confident and credible while you present, which could put your wholerecommendation at risk.
The phrase “actions speak louder than words” applies to your presentations more than you may realize. How you behave has as much to do with how people perceive you as what you say. If your body language does not match your content, your audience may question your credibility,professionalism, or possibly dismiss your message entirely. For example, if you stand in front of a group and talk about how excited you are about a new initiative, but you look down, read your notes and don’t smile, your audience likely won’t be very excited about the news. It isn’t enough to say the right thing; you must be able to confidently deliver your message.
Following a few guidelines will put you on track for a successful presentation.
Pause & Breathe. Pausing is the most under-utilized physical element that can create a positive impact for your image. Slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing is the best way to control your heart rate and minimize excess adrenaline. Remember to pause and breathe after every important sentence or when looking back at your slides to remember what to say. Pausing will help you remember your next thought. It indicates that you are considering the needs of the audience and not racing through your material. It will relax you, help you catch your breath and conserve your energy.
Square Up & Stand Tall. The proper way to stand is with your weight balanced evenly on both feet, hip width apart, square to one person in the audience. This stance communicates that you are confident, strong and in control. As you’re looking at someone, physically address that person. This means that your toes, hips and shoulders should all be facing the person you are addressing. When you first attempt to square up, it may feel a little robotic and stiff, but as you practice this new skill it will become more natural and will enhance your overall physical presence. When you are squared up to the person you’re looking at, it also makes it easier to gesture naturally.
Gestures & Hands. Your hands are one of your best visual aids, second only to your facial expressions. To properly use your hands, keep them out of your pockets and at your sides to start. Leave them at your sides if you do not know what to do with them. They will be in position to gesture naturally and freely. Your hands will respond to your natural energy and move freely. Avoid clasping them in front or behind you for any length of time. Demonstrating strong body language indicates confidence in your content. Practice these skills and your audience’s perception of you improve dramatically. Once people see that your body language is confident, your message will have a higher impact and move your listeners to action more quickly than ever before.