You’ve done this numerous times before. You know the drill. They announce your name, your feet automatically move you to the front of the (virtual) stage, your eyes adjust to the bright light, your lips form a smile and start to speak whatever it is you’re meant to present. Your brain goes on auto-pilot and magically sends the right words to your mouth. It all flashes by like a second in time, you hear the wave of applause bouncing off the walls, your lips smile again as you turn around and leave the stage. Done. Another one in the books.
You’ve done this numerous times before. Yet this time the stakes are much, much higher. Your future career is on the line. You feel the adrenaline rush move through your body, not finding a way out. You know the drill. ‘Why am I still so nervous? Why can’t I calm down?!’ you ask yourself as your body goes into fight-or-flight mode.
Confidence does not minimize the emotional aspect of public speaking.
They announce your name, your feet automatically move you to the front of the stage even though the rest of your body wants to run and hide. As your eyes adjust to the bright light and your lips form a smile, your body is in full panic mode. You realize that you’re still on high alert. You start to speak whatever it is you’re meant to present. ‘What if I can’t convince them with my message?!?? My whole future is at stake!!’ You swear to yourself that if they shouldn’t like it, you were never gonna do this again. Ever.
Confidence does not automatically adapt your approach based on the audience's reactions.
You got this. This isn’t your first rodeo!?! You try to convince yourself that this was just a blip and the feeling will go back to normal, the way you’re used to when giving speeches. By now, you're in your head and don't notice how fast and uncontrolled your gestures are. Your only focus is on remembering the right words at the right time.
Confidence does not differentiate between nuances of body language.
As you desperately think about the comfort of having a regular 9-5 with the blissful possibility to hide behind a desk, you wish your brain went on auto-pilot and magically sent the right words to your mouth. ‘Wait - what was I about to say again?! Think think THINK!’ After what felt like an eternal second, you pick up where you left off and try to focus on your speech.
Confidence does not equal the ability to handle unexpected challenges.
You constantly run out of breath and you notice how your mouth gets drier by the minute. ‘What if they think I’m a joke?!? Ohh sweet comfortable desk job…’ By now, everyone can hear the smacking sound of your dry mouth as it mutters the words. ‘Why am I doing this to myself!’ You’re mentally giving yourself a gold star as if it were an Oscar for somehow being able to avoid choking and coughing as you felt a dry knot in your throat.
Confidence does not make up for lack of adequate preparation.
At this point you don’t care about your delivery anymore, as long as it meant you got it done without fully embarrassing yourself. The rest of your presentation flashes by like a second in time. The wave of applause bouncing off the walls signals your survival from the self-induced trauma you just went through. Your lips form a resemblance of a smile again as you turn around and leave the stage to go run for water.
Confidence does not carry your message without effort.
You feel the greatest mental relief as the water touches your throat. Done. Another one in the books. You realize you did it. ‘Wasn’t so bad, eh?’ No matter what happens next, you feel relieved and proud of putting yourself out there - just not exactly confident. But why?!
Walk with me.
When you think of the last presentation where you were out of your comfort zone (you know, the one that really mattered!), what are you most proud of? Maybe you stayed calm instead of getting upset about something that somebody said, maybe you made someone smile when tensions were high, maybe you pronounced a word correctly that’s been bugging you for a while, or perhaps you like how much you got your audience interested in what you had to say? I bet the first thing that comes to mind though isn’t how confident you were, but how well you managed a certain aspect of your presentation. That’s where skill set comes in.
Confidence can't solve issues like dry mouth, hoarse voice or shaky hands, but skills and strategies can.
Confidence doesn’t show up when you’re counting on it, and most certainly not prior to any presentation. It is elusive and only grows when you have a stack of undeniable proof of your abilities you can refer back to at any given time. If it is the culmination of various different skill sets, then why are you relying solely on confidence for your success?
There is always an unforeseen circumstance, a new challenge, a distraction you haven't experienced before. Wouldn't you want to know you have a range of strategies you can fall back on for when the unexpected and unplanned hits? It’s the skills that make you confident, not the confidence that makes you skilled. So stop focusing on confidence and instead improve your skill set first and your success will follow suit!
P.S.: Want access to all the steps in prepping for a speech I use to coach my clients to present without overwhelm?
Take advantage of this STRESS-FREE SPEECH CHECKLIST and leave the guesswork out of your preparation for good. Download your copy now and use it for every future presentation to create your routine!