Speaking with confidence wasn’t top of mind this past year when we weren’t communicating to each other in person. Now that the masks are coming off and the distancing is lessening, some professionals are struggling with building back their confidence in presenting, briefing, and speaking in public to others. There’s no need to worry that you can’t get your “communications mojo” back. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind to help restore and strengthen your confidence in oral communications:
1. Concentrate on Content: Focus on what you have to communicate. Give yourself a break from worry about others’ judgement. Concentrating on getting the content right will naturally help your performance. This isn’t acting; you have to get behind what you’re saying.
2. Have clear, high level messages: Don’t make your audience work to figure out why they should be listening to you. Make sure you have clear, succinct messages that you have confidence in. If that means there’s only one or two high level messages, that’ll be enough as the basis of your talk.
3. Stay in the moment: Don’t worry about filling out someone else’s time frame or meeting someone else’s performance expectations. Don’t try to make a 15-minute briefing last for a half hour. Build in flexibility (such as leaving more time for q and a) and err on the side of brevity rather than trying to fill space.
4. Play to your strengths: If you’re a good story-teller, practice finding a good (brief) one to work into your briefing or presentation. If you’re someone who sticks to a script, pare your material down until you can deliver a shortened, high-level version of it. If you like using materials, try making them as visual and simple as possible. Better to have your audience engaged throughout than wonder why you are repeating yourself.
5. Be realistic: Give yourself some time to rebuild the confidence you had or discover new confidence. That comes from your connection to what you’re saying and your knowledge about why your audience needs to hear it. It doesn’t come from memorization or being afraid you won’t be perfect.
Be kind to yourself as you “take the public stage” once again, strengthening that “performance” muscle you might not have been exercising this past year. Your performance and your confidence will increase with practice. In the meantime, remember the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
The Pincus Group provides virtual AND in-person help to executives in presentations, speeches, messaging and media interviews. From a base near Washington DC, Aileen Pincus and her group of trainers provides expert coaching for all types of public and private sectors, particularly in this challenging time of “distanced” communication. Visit http://www.thepincusgroup.com and get your free estimate.
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