Hello everybody. I’m Victoria Rennoldson, Communication and Culture Coach, and welcome to Wednesday Words with me. You can choose to watch this by clicking ‘play’ on the video above, which also has subtitles.
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Today we’ll be talking about priming for confidence. When you have an important communication or presentation, I’m sure that you prepare, but have you thought about how you actually prime yourself for confidence?
What do I mean by this?
Building up your confidence before the event itself emotionally, physically, and mentally. I’m going to share with you today some ideas to prepare for the days or weeks before the event itself, and then what you can do in the minutes before you begin.
How to prime for confidence in the days and weeks before the event
I’m sure you think about what it is you want to say, but are you practicing? I recommend to my clients build up their confidence by practicing in front of a mirror, or maybe open up a Zoom or a MS Teams meeting, and hit the record button. This way you can see not only what you’re saying, but how you sound, how you’re coming across with your body language, your gestures, your facial expressions, and make sure you’re smiling.
If you do record it, also listen or watch back. First focus on what’s positive, so you don’t just jump into criticising yourself, before you reflect on about how you could improve and develop. If you’re going to focus on any particular part of what you’re saying, always consider what you say at the beginning and at the end. These are the critical points where you want to be impactful, and these are the moments that the audience will remember best. Then I think about the questions that might come up. You can gain a lot of confidence from anticipating those questions and knowing how you would answer them in the moment.
Personally, I like to think about how I’m going to prepare- particularly in the virtual event space – my full environment, so I think about the background and what it is going to look like. If you don’t have a particularly appropriate background, there’s a wealth of virtual backgrounds, or you can just blur it. Also important aspects include lighting- is the space bright enough? Will people be able to see you clearly? Have you got the right sound equipment so you sound clear? I like to think about my other senses as well, so sometimes I like to have a coffee just before an event, as it gives me energy. Other times I like to use aromatherapy, so I have a bit of peppermint oil on the side, and this energises me and focusses my attention and can give me confidence. So when you’re delivering events virtually, do think about that full experience for you and your audience, and how you can make it best for you.
The final point in terms of preparation is I like to reflect on what success looks like for me, and I visualise it. I write down those sentences in the present tense, for example: “I can see myself standing strong and confident”; “I can see the audience listening carefully to me”; “I can see them looking really positive and enjoying my messages and communication”. This is a great way to visualise what success looks like for you, so do personalise it to your own situation. And the important thing is to write it in the present tense. Writing it down is one option, but you can also voice record them. I sometimes do this and then listen back to them, and this gives me a sense of confidence as I prepare for larger events.
So that’s how you can prepare in the days and weeks before the event itself.
How to prime for confidence just before you go live for a virtual event, or go on stage for presentations in front of an audience.
I personally believe in standing, I think it’s the best way to gain confidence, because you’re standing up straight, and your breath can flow more easily through your body and your voice sounds steady. I like to stand with my feet flat on the floor and I’m careful to stand centrally and in a grounded way. It allows my breath to flow through my body and that gives me a sense of strength and confidence. If you also choose to do this, make sure you’re standing up straight, rather than slouching to one side, or crossing your legs.
If you prefer to sit, ensure you’re sitting up nice and straight, so you feel stronger and allow the breath to flow more freely.
Some people love to do what’s called ‘the power stance’, which is a particular physical movement before you go live or in private just before you go and do your presentation. In this move you stand up, put your hands on your hips, stick your chest out, take a few deep breaths, standing almost like you’re a superman or a superwoman. This can give you a good sense of confidence and calm nerves, so do experiment and work out what works for you physically.
If I’m going to a live event and I’m delivering in front of an audience, I always like to turn up early and work out where I’m going to stand or sit. I physically try out the space, because I want to make sure that I’m in the place that I feel most confident and connects with the audience, before everybody arrives. Similarly, try out the technology and check it is working well.
If you are somebody who is still building up their confidence, and this currently doesn’t come naturally to you, then this is something I used when I was on my own confidence journey, and I used to present in front of large audiences. I didn’t feel confident back then, so I would act ‘as if’, and that means that I would pretend to be confident. I would act ‘as if’ I were a very confident presenter, and although at first that didn’t always happen 100% of the time, I noticed if I worked on this time and time again, eventually I became a confident presenter – I didn’t have to keep on acting. So that might be a concept that might help you as well.
So we have covered 2 ways to prime for confidence: what you do in the days and weeks before the event itself, and what you do in the moments and minutes before you go live or deliver your communication in front of other people.