Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

I know. All you wanted was more confidence.  But perhaps my suggestions - animation, emphasis, passion etc - are alarming. Surely, you might think, this will just make people see me as some kind of show pony, prancing about, preening in the spotlight, bathing in adulation. That is definitely not the aim!

But you will need to be an actor.  Don't go away - unless you are always at your best, you need to switch on this very particular and unique act:

Act as if you are at your strongest, most confident, most convincing, right now.

To make it happen, think like this.  Let's suppose you've had an uninspiring day. And yet you have to give a presentation in 10 minutes. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes and imagine - as vividly as possible - how you would be looking, sounding and moving if you were having a really good day, feeling great. Make up your mind to keep up that act from right now until you finish speaking to your audience. That's feel-average you, acting feel-good you. Nothing to do with show ponies.

Now here's the extraordinary thing. When my trainees try that act, I get these typical responses. From the person doing the acting: “When I act confident, I actually feel more confident.” From the audience (to the presenter): “You come across as more believable.”

And here’s a tip that helps make your act easier and even more effective. They get your message better when they see how keen you are that they get your message. Think about that. In other words:

Make your desire to be understood obvious.

How? Go back to the first thing I said on this page... a little more animation, emphasis, passion etc.  Full circle? No. This is you at your authentic best.

As always, try it out with a trusted friend or colleague first.

Are you annoyed by the title of this blog? By the implication that such fear is a choice? Hold your judgement for a moment and think about this...

Who am I? The question is so deeply built into us that throughout our lives, in answering it, we create our personalities and characters. And whatever comes after I am... becomes a powerful force in our lives. In many ways we are like sculptors, constantly working our thought chisel, so that the shape of our selves becomes more and more definite. And - here's the news that could be good or bad – the shape of each self becomes more and more fixed.

For example: some trainees turn up to my presentation skills workshops with these beliefs: "I am... someone who hates the spotlight." "I am... someone who doesn't like people looking at me." "I am... not a public speaker." So they're severely hampered making speeches, giving presentations, running meetings - even speaking up at someone else's meeting. 

Incidentally, don't just think it just applies to public speaking. Many other aspects of our lives can be crippled by such beliefs. Like putting on our own handcuffs.

About Michael Brown

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Michael is a senior trainer with Skillset, based in Christchurch.

He is a leading authority on training in presentation and news media skills in New Zealand. He has special expertise in how to present emotionally-charged topics to challenging audiences. Michael has trained thousands of New Zealanders and worked with people who speak on behalf of some of the country's largest organisations.

Michael is a prolific author and his books on speaking and working with the media are in their fourth editions.

Speaking Easy: how to speak to your audiences with confidence and authority

Media Easy: how to handle the news media with confidence and authority

One of Michael's books is about his family's adventures sailing in the Pacific.

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