Confidence is key. We’ve heard that phrase over and over again, and there’s certainly truth in it. A lack of confidence will sink your presentation before it’s even begun. Listening to someone give a presentation with no confidence is awkward, and feeling embarrassed for someone else is uncomfortable. Don’t make your audience squirm. Be confident, even if underneath your callused outer shell you’re as fragile as an egg. Fake it until you make it, and until you do, use these tips to help you be confident on stage.

To begin with, show up early and dressed in your Sunday best. There’s nothing worse than being late or nearly late to an important appointment. Give yourself time to arrive to the venue, sit down, breathe and relax before you start. If you don’t consciously set aside time to get there early, you’re going to be speeding around in traffic, swearing to yourself, sweating profusely, increasing your heart rate, and stressing yourself out to the max. Avoid this. There’s no legitimate reason you can’t be on time, so be on time. Also, dressing in your Sunday best is a surefire way to boost your confidence. You know when you look good and you feel good about yourself when you do. Even if you’re scared and nervous and feel like you’re about to have a panic attack, you’ll still feel great about yourself because you look great.

Remember the first rule of Boy Scouts: Be prepared! Absolutely the easiest way to ensure confidence on stage is to be prepared for your presentation. It sounds simple enough, but it’s equally as simple to convince yourself that you’re much more prepared than you really are. Be honest with yourself. Should you practice one more time? Do you know the presentation like the back of your hand? The more you practice, the more prepared you’re going to feel. We recommend practicing at least eight times before the day of your presentation. More is better. Be so comfortable with every aspect of your speech that it feels like it’s spilling out of your brain. An excellent point from our CEO and founder Scott Schwertly’s book How to be a Presentation God is that “an 100-member audience attending an hour-long presentation is giving up 100 collective hours.” Your audience is going to get out of your presentation what you put into it. Make it worth their while.

When you finally feel adequately prepared, relax. Breathe. Set down your presentation and do something else. Don’t look at it again except for a quick run-through before the presentation. Don’t obsess over it. Again, be sure you are prepared, then relax. Don’t fret up until the final moment about some cumbersome detail. Let it rest. If you feel completely prepared the day of the presentation, you will look and appear relaxed. Of course, there will always be butterflies flying around your stomach, but no one will be able to tell except you. And those butterflies are a good thing– they’ll keep you in line and remind you to be on your toes and receptive to whatever comes your way, but your demeanor will be entirely relaxed because you’re ready.

So remember: arrive early, dress your best, be prepared and relax. Your audience will be excited and ready to hear what you have to say. You’ll smile, feel grounded in your confidence, and give the best presentation of your life.

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