The 10 Characteristics of a Great Communicator: No. 1 – Confidence

When it comes to communicating with larger audiences, many people have split personalities: The Real Self and the Presentation Self.

The Real Self is confident, comfortable, self-assured and genuine. Think Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

This is the personality that your clients and prospects want.

Frequently the Presentation Self takes over when a speaker begins his or her speech. This personality looks uncomfortable, anxious and nervous. Thanks to YouTube, a video of Minerva, Ohio Councilman Phil Davison’s out of control speech for Stark County treasurer went viral on September 9, 2010.

Mr. Davison’s Presentation Self kicked in to create an embarrassing speech that has been viewed over one million times, more than 2,000 times Minerva’s population of 3,934. Click here to watch a video of his speech.
Unfortunately, Mr. Davison isn’t alone. During a workshop that we were conducting for a large construction management company, we videoed a senior vice president giving a presentation. As we played the video back for him, he became more and more disturbed. Finally, he threw up his arms and said, “I can’t believe that I’ve been in my business for twenty-three years and achieved the level of success I have. With the way I come across, I’m surprised that I could persuade anyone to do anything.”

The Presentation Self will keep you from creating the success you want. Your customers and prospects want to see an authentic, confident person—the Real Self—and you will not persuade them unless you create the perception they want. You must excise the Presentation Self.

The Presentation Self appears for one key reason – fear. According to The Book of Lists, the fear of public speaking is our number one fear. People would rather die, play with poisonous snakes or jump out of airplanes than give a presentation in public.

When the Presentation Self appears, nagging questions suddenly pop into your brain. Will I forget what I’m going to say? Will I embarrass myself by not being able to answer a difficult question? Will the equipment malfunction? The result can be sweaty palms, shaky hands, weak knees, panic-stricken expressions, or a quivering voice. The perception is a lack of confidence.

To ensure that the Presentation Self shows up for every presentation follow this three step process:

Step 1: Get it right mentally by creating an affirmation. Instead of saying to yourself, “I really get nervous when I speak in public” change it to “I am a confident speaker.”

Step 2: Develop your presentation skills by attending a presentation skills workshop or course. Look for companies that specialize in presentation skills or check out a local adult education course.

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice. Look for opportunities to present in your organization or at service clubs (they are always looking for speakers). Join a Toastmasters Club in your area for more opportunities to practice.

Follow this 3 step process and you will soon find that your split personality has given way to a confident communicator who enjoys the opportunity to speak publically to any size audience.

The Great Communicator Toolbox
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