Unlock your Presenting Power.
Written by Carina Parisella
There is no magic potion for unlocking your personal power.
When it comes to speaking in front of an audience, gaining confidence is a gradual process: it evolves as you do...but when it does start to happen? You’ll feel it.
One day you’ll be reflecting on a mindful Monday and realise, “hey, I’m actually pretty good at this!” while also recognising that you wouldn’t be where you are today without the jump into the deep end you braved all those years ago.
Once you’ve taken the leap and signed up to a few things out of your comfort zone (think: being the token woman on a panel), your confidence will bloom when you have a few things in check: knowledge on the topic, preparation and my personal favourite - being unashamedly you (always).
In other words? Know enough to be dangerous, practice makes progress, be you, take a leap and breathe baby!
If you’re wanting some more in depth advice, keep reading for my top tips on unlocking your presenting power!
1. Fake it ‘til you make it
Repeat after me: You don’t need to be an expert on something to have an opinion or a voice. Most of the people around you aren’t experts either, they’re just really great at faking it.
They also know that knowledge isn’t stagnant i.e. our thoughts and opinions change as we grow and learn, which is completely normal!
In my early days, I was often worried about voicing my opinion on a particular topic – especially in the tech industry (sorry I don’t wear a hoodie, eat pizza and play ping pong guys) so I learned enough to be dangerous and stay curious.
Use this as inspiration when preparing your presentation content and focus on what you do know right now, and know that you can always learn more!
Secret tip: Before a presentation, get googling! Source a few relevant stats and quotes to share that will give your talk substance.
2. Practice (my favourite part)
My methods of practice are a little funny - ask my son.
The first thing I do when I’m presenting is write my speech – word for word. Of course, I might not deliver it word for word when the day arrives, but this way, I’ve written my intent clearly and succinctly. I usually use Notes or Microsoft Word – whatever is accessible when the ideas arise.
As I’m typing, I read aloud to check for conversational tone, fit for audience, the right pausing and so on. Then I stand in front of a mirror and read my speech out loud. Again and again.
I time the speech for duration, then continue editing and reading aloud until I’m satisfied with the length and how it sounds. For really important talks, I record the speech on my phone and listen to it in every spare moment...until eventually, it sticks.
To strengthen my confidence, I memorise key statements and special quotes, as they provide a strong delivery in the beginning to get me through.
Secret tip: cement what you want to say and practice as much as you can. Listen to your recording then repeat it back to yourself, and remember Queens: it’s okay to talk to yourself!
3. Be you, Queen. Only you.
Your most valuable asset on stage? Being your sparkly self.
Having a corporate background means I can turn on the professionalism when I need to, but I always have a play and use my wit to my advantage.
Maybe you’ll come on stage in a hoodie or try an audience wide mediation to the Game of Thrones theme song to break the ice (trust me, I’ve tried it all)?
Find your secret sauce and run with it!
4. Breathe in, breathe out
When you’re up there, the good ol’ ‘imagine everyone naked’ thing doesn’t always work. But what does work, every damn time, is deep, mindful breathing.
It’s quite common to want to start talking straight away, but if you haven’t given your mind or body a moment to work out where it is, your amygdala will get internally hijacked – and nobody wants that.
So before I open that mouth of mine, I take a couple of deep breaths and take my time before I start; noticing my breath, posture and where my hands are. There’s a stack of great advice on breathing and more here.
Repeat after me: breathe in, breathe out annnnd...begin!
If you’re looking for more tips and advice, my virtual door (aka LinkedIn) is always open.