I have the honor of providing the keynote address at the upcoming MD Imaging Expo in Indianapolis, July 16 and 17. As I make my preparations, I realize that I am very nervous about this. I have conducted thousands of presentations in my nearly 40 years as an instructor and presenter. Why am I apprehensive each time I am about to conduct a presentation?
Beside the fact that I am a naturally shy individual, it comes down to a question of confidence: confidence in my presentation skills and in my perception of how I will be received by the audience. Prior to every single presentation that I have ever made, I always have been very nervous and unsure of how it will turn out.
I realize that I cannot just ignore this insecurity so I embrace it. I let the insecurity drive my actions. I review my presentation over and over, tweaking it and visualizing what I will say and how I will say it. I instruct my subconscious to work on the presentation in the background and let me know any new things I should do.
So…I thought that I would provide you with some observations and suggestions regarding confidence. Confidence is an emotional mental state. If you think about it, you are very confident and competent about many things that you do each day. You drive your car, brush your teeth, perform your job functions, meet with friends, etc. It is only when you are relatively inexperienced at something that confidence is shaken, when you are outside your comfort zone. Confidence is based on competency and experience. You are comfortable when you know you can do it and do it well.
In my 7 Triggers to Yes webinar, I speak on emotional tags. Our experiences are tagged with the emotions that accompany the experience. If the tag has a positive emotion, then that experience is used in the future to add to our confidence level in similar instances. If the tag is negative, it will reduce confidence during similar experiences.
So how do we increase confidence when we are to do something that makes us nervous? First let’s talk about the internal components of confidence.
The internal component is based on past experiences. Search for similar past experiences to see if there are positive or negative emotional tags attached to them. Enhance the positive emotions and minimize the effect of the negative emotions you find. Visualize the experiences and establish a link between the positive emotional tags from the past and the expected positive emotional tags of the future. See yourself doing a great job and receiving a great ovation from the audience. See the smiles and the nodding heads of approval.
The external component is easier. Practice, review, modify, tweak, and repeat. Know what you are going to cover and exceed that knowledge by a minimum of 50% so that you can handle questions. Prepare answers to at least ten expected questions. Prepare how you will say things so that you don’t make boneheaded comments.
I like to walk into the presentation room when it is empty. I stand where I will be when making the presentation and I visualize the audience. I see happy, smiling faces as I review my opening remarks. During the presentation, I look for those smiling, nodding heads and speak to them often. (Some have said to visualize the audience naked. This has never worked for me. I find it distracting.)
From Game of Thrones:
Bran: Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?
Eddard: That is the only time a man can be brave.
One more thing: Make sure that the nodding heads are not because you are putting them to sleep.
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