How do I deliver a confident talk?

7 Steps to Presentation Confidence

What do the best presenters do when they speak in public that makes them so confident and interesting? How do professionals make it look so easy? There are a few simple steps that they use, which can make the difference between charisma and chaos as a speaker. By following these 7 steps you too can have far greater confidence that your presentation will go down well when you speak:

1. Know your stuff!

Seems obvious, but the best way to sound like you know your stuff is to know your stuff! There is no substitute. This means –

• Know your audience; who is going to be in your audience? What do they want from this? What will be most interesting to them and how much knowledge/experience do they have about your subject?

• Know your presentation; rehearse so you are very familiar with your messages, your opener, your visual aids, your links and your flow.

• iii) Know the details for the day; everything from timing, other speakers and audio/visual facilities to where to park and unload

2. What to do immediately before

On the day you want to arrive with plenty of time to get set up and check everything is working. Having done this you can spend useful time mingling with your audience to start to feel a sense of rapport with them.
If you haven’t done so beforehand, confirm who is going to introduce you and check they have your details. If there is a last minute change to the plan and someone else is now introducing you, have something ready for them to use as your introduction. This should be a couple of bullet points on a card that they can read out ending with the phrase “so please join me in welcoming (your name)” – this gets people clapping as you arrive on stage, which gets the energy in the room up.

3. Start Strong

Your opening is the most important part of your presentation. It is also when any adrenaline will be at its peak, so you need to start strong by knowing your opening lines really well. Learn your opener so you are word perfect and fluent on what you say at the start.

Remember that you also need to warm people up in your audience. Most people’s listening faces are blank and not very warm – not because they are hostile but because that is the default expression for most audiences before you warm them up.

So, warm people up by getting them to laugh or smile at something, physically do something together or just accept that, if you are starting with a serious or sad story, the audience will be looking tense until you take them to another state.

4. Keep Things Interesting

It goes without saying that people don’t enjoy sitting in dull, boring presentations. Tell stories, use props, involve people, – and remember that 10 minutes is about as long as people can sit passively listening without needing stimulation of some kind. Also, keep your voice interesting through pauses, good pace, pitch and phrasing.

5. Keep the connection

Having got into rapport with your audience – keep the connection through your eye contact, facial warmth and conversational interest. Don’t read when you present – either your notes or slides – as reading diminishes your impact and connection and ultimately your credibility that you ‘know your stuff’. Also, make sure you can be heard by everyone – if you are mumbling or can’t be heard clearly you will lose people quickly.

6. Have something worth listening to

You’ve done your homework on who is in the audience – so give them something that will be relevant and interesting for them to hear about. Speak with passion and enthusiasm for your subject, have a message, a clear structure and flow to your points and try to make it memorable.

7. End Strong

The second most important part of your presentation is the ending as this is what people will remember most. So, finish with your call to action – what you want people to do or know after your presentation. As they say in journalism, don’t ‘bury the lead’ – remind people right at the end what you most want them to know, do or think as a result of your presentation.

Caroline Hopkins is an NLP Master Practitioner specialising in coaching and training presentation skills. Caroline works with clients in the North West of England and London to master their confidence and their skills. You can find out more about Caroline at