manage your confidence

Manage Your ConfidenceConfidence is a moveable feast.

For many of us it can alter depending on what is happening around us – difficult feedback, not getting that job, a missed pay rise, bad hair - the list is endless. Presenting is another of those situations where our confidence can be rocked - especially if the stakes are high.

We all have different confidence numbers

Great speakers, politicians, CEOs and movie stars are often considered to have high levels of confidence. In life we all have a preferred confidence 'number' that we can adjust between 1 (low) & 10 (high), dependent on the situation. Think of people in your working and social life - some are 9's and some are 5's. We respond differently to each number & have been adapting our own numbers since childhood.

What number do you tend to feel when you present? If you feel you could be a higher number than you currently are, then see if you can raise it by just two places. Once you feel you've hit that number and want to go higher still, then repeat the process until you arrive at your desired number. This cognitive process is a quick route to displaying a host of confident physical traits. Your brain will have a far tougher time responding to – "chest out, good eye contact, strong voice, relaxed gestures, pause etc." Remember this is your 9 and not somebody else's - it's important that it feels authentically you.

You can practice this process long before your next presentation. Order a meal in a restaurant as a 10 or try and get served in a busy bar as a 2. If you walk through a busy train terminal as a high number, people will walk out of your way. As a low number, not only will people walk into you, you’ll also probably end up apologising to them! Placing your attention on your confidence number daily will allow you to use it when you need to.

Barack Obama would be considered a high number President, and for 98% of the time you would say that's true – but if you watch a compilation video of him presenting when his teleprompter fails, then you'll see a rapid decent in confidence. It's a fascinating observation, and it illustrates that we are all human – even Presidents!

Open and iconic gestures

When we use open gestures when we present we display a high level of self assured and confident behaviour. Observe your own gestures when you communicate. What do you tend to do with your hands? Exposing your palms when you speak creates an intuitive feeling in the listener that you can be trusted. When palms are hidden we can unconsciously feel something may not be as it seems. Children will often hide their palms behind their back when concealing the truth.

Iconic gestures are when you use your hands to illustrate and paint pictures. It might be an outstretched hand to show us the height of your daughter or the length of that fish you once caught. If this is something that you do naturally then keep doing it, as it's a powerful asset to any speaker. If however you feel your hands become a liability when you present then watch those around you who use iconic gestures and see if you can find places where you could begin to introduce them.

NEXT: 'dress appropriately'

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