Present With Confidence

10 Tips to give you that winning, speaking and presenting edge

Absolute terror is what viewers see on the face of Colin Firth in his Oscar-winning performance as Prince Albert, the Duke of York in the opening minutes of the Academy Awards top movie of 2010, ‘The Kings Speech’.

It is the year 1925 as Prince Albert addresses thousands of athletes, nobles and society elite at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley Stadium, Brent, England. It is excruciating to watch his attempts to speak and then listen to the difficult delivery of words from a wounded soul.

Firth’s complete immersion in his character’s ordeal gives the viewer an early glimpse of the struggles of an unlikely leader who will emerge and help guide the English at the start of World War II.

Hollow victory

Over the next 14 years, Prince Albert will become known as King George VI and father of the future Queen of England, Elizabeth the II and her sister, Princess Margaret.

During this time, the King will be forced to confront his major confidence issues in the form of a stammer or stutter. He engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist who teaches the King to overcome his fears as a presenter and find his voice in an era that demanded a steady voice and leader for the people.  

Along this journey, the King gains self-respect, the confidence of his cabinet, church officials and instills a pride and spirit in his country to claim victory over Germany.  

Confidence Tips

It is highly unlikely you will ever need to talk to a nation or be in a situation that demands exceptional speaking skills to ignite the will to fight an enemy in war times.  

Yet, you may be asked to address your peers or talk in front of colleagues at a company meeting or speak on behalf of an organisation to bring clarity to the proceedings on occasions. .

The following tips can help improve your skills and find new confidence levels for a successful outcome: .

  1. Content: Like an actor, if you know your lines (or the content) to be delivered, your effectiveness in sharing that content and speaking will be exceptionally high.
  2. Mindset: Sports people often talk about being in ‘the zone’ when they were in peak form. Mental rehearsal and positive visualisation of your performance at your best is an important area often overlooked yet it’s a skill top-level presenters have developed.
  3. Emotional State: Having high emotional and vibrant energy levels are fundamental. Learn to balance IQ and EQ within the content and flow of your presentation or speech.
  4. Passion: We hear about it, we see it at times yet how often are you really engaged at a top-level of passion and enthusiasm in a project, topic, event, client meeting or family gathering? There is a bit of truth to the ole’ saying ‘wherever you are – be there’.
  5. Oxygen: The brain needs it and your body and mind will demand it while on your feet. Take in numerous deep breaths a few minutes before a speech or presentation to help reduce nerves and get the butterflies moving in the same direction. This can slow your heart rate, enhance your voice and help you gain more control over your tempo.
  6. Rest: Sleep, spas, massages, steam rooms, saunas, swims and brisk walks the day or night before are under rated. The benefits to you will be a restful body and a sharp mind when called upon.
  7. Attire: Look sharp and chances are you will be. Audiences, clients and peers can sense if a person’s body language is congruent with their words. The proper suit, shirt, tie and belt for men or suit, skirt, blouse and accessories for woman can make a big impact and lift your confidence at the right moment. A rule of thumb is that you should look as good as the best dressed person at the event.
  8. Footwear: Proper business shoes with a suit for men or for women, heels with a suit or flats with a skirt / blouse combination is critical when in front of people. Similar to a great frame on a good picture – great shoes will enhance an overall look.
  9. Venue: Having a sense of the place and feel of the environment is an industry secret of excellent presenters. Pre-plan time to visit the hotel or conference room or if distance is an issue, layouts are normally viewable online in a Google search.
  10. Audience: The more you understand the demographics, cultures, issues, challenges or celebrations of your audience, the more confidence you will have to present your content to engage and lift the spirits and minds of those before you.

Presenting and speaking with confidence is a skill which can be acquired and developed to a high level. Preparation, practice, understanding your audience and being yourself are major areas to be mastered. Those who do it well make it look easy and natural.  

The good news regarding King George VI is that history confirms he was an accomplished communicator and well liked leader by the British people. He overcame his struggle to speak with help from a speech therapist and who, as a mentor to the King, stood by him for every important speech the King delivered on radio and in public service for the rest of his natural life.  

King George VI used his acquired skill over a life time and in doing so, brought long time benefit to his country including a victory alongside allies over Adolf Hitler and Germany in World War II.