When you really believe that you’re about to deliver with conviction, authority and confidence that’s generally what the audience will experience.
I'm not talking self-delusion and convincing yourself that things will be great without any foundation. Genuine self-belief and the convincing delivery that flows from it comes when you’ve put in some pretty hard work.
On most occasions there will be no more that 3 or 4 key points that you need your audience to understand and remember. Analyse and plan your content and overall message based on what people need to hear, rather than on what you want to say.
This is harder than it might sound. You have to put aside time for quiet reflection as well as carrying out some consultation to boil down an entire presentation to the few points that your audience has to absorb and take away. These have to be the points that matter most to them.
Once you have the key points you can build your structure around them. Each section will then lead logically to one of the key points. You can prime your audience appropriately so that they are ready to hear each point, and you can recap effectively to make sure they’ve sunk in.
Confidence that you’ve built the presentation around the audience gives you greater confidence that they’ll actually be listening.
2. Know Your Subject
Once you’re clear about the main points that will interest and convince your audience you need to think about what questions they might ask. They might only ask these questions in their head but they will want answers all the same.
When you’ve mastered your brief you can pre-empt questions and objections. You can be armed with suitable examples and evidence to back up the points you’re making and you will be ready to deal with doubts and disagreements.
Start from a position of understanding what questions you are likely to be asked, and know exactly how you’re going to answer them. Self-belief then starts to build.
It’s one thing knowing what you’re going to say, and quite another to know that you’re going to deliver it forcefully.
Once you’ve rehearsed and fine-tuned the delivery multiple times you will be confident that it will come out as you intended when the pressure’s on. Rehearse how you will deal with challenges and questions too - if you start bumbling over those it can infect the remainder of your presentation delivery.
4. Get in the Right Frame of Mind
When you are getting ready to deliver your presentation consciously think positive thoughts about yourself, your presentation and the reason you’re there.
Remind yourself of how you’ve structured the presentation and how this means that your audience will be receptive. Think about how convincing you sounded in rehearsal. And, above all, remind yourself that you are the expert that the audience has come to hear.
Finally, take a few deep, slow breaths.
5. Take it Nice and Steady
Slightly elevated stress and adrenalin levels make us speak more quickly than normal. Be aware of this and make a conscious effort to slow down and take pauses. This gives you more time to take in feedback from your audience.
With a calm but convincing delivery you’ll soon find that they look like they’re listening intently, they’re nodding in agreement, they’re even laughing in the right places - and that feels good!