Select the right words. Say them well.

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Quite often over the last almost 20 years of consulting work I have been asked to work with people who seem unconfident in front of an audience or in important meetings. For many of these individuals, the lack of confidence feels like an unconquerable mountain when thought of in the abstract. However, when you start to dig into it, there often are very reachable ways to attack the problem. 

The great thing about what I’m about to outline is there will threads here that ALL of us can identify with. While confidence can be a huge issue for some, it creeps into almost all of our brains from time to time. Also, isn’t it great when we can offer a word of advice to a colleague or boss to help them get over a challenge? That’s just what this list of suggestions can do for someone who needs help. 

Start with prep work: Too often the unconfident person is so wigged out about their lack of confidence they fail to use their time well. They spend time worrying instead of preparing. For all us, the more prepared we are, the more confident we are in any situation. If you find yourself distracted with your worries, turn that energy into productive effort by using it to prepare – thinking through the situation/conversation/meeting/speech and planning how you’ll approach each aspect of the interaction.

How will you start? For any important interaction, if you know how you will start – the very first words you will use – you are likely to come to the event in a much healthier place. You know what you’ll say and therefore the words will be offered with ease – or with a lot more confidence than when your brain is squirming, trying to figure out how to get started. 

What is your main message? The traveler with a good roadmap (or accurate phone app) is much more likely to get to their destination unstressed. The same is true for the unconfident person. If you know the main point you’re hoping to get across, you’ll start to focus on that goal instead of how nervous you might be in the moment. With the goal in mind, you will begin to strategize about the best ways to get there and have a clear gameplan for the interaction.

What about the questions? Think of the toughest question you could be asked. Really zero in on the directions your audience might be coming from during the interaction. Then have a plan for answering those questions. Working with one leader recently they honestly said they never gave this idea any thought. Many of us are in the same spot. We often get so distracted by the presentation/conversation/meeting we don’t think of all the ways the conversation might wander. You can tell the difference because a prepared individual will almost smile when a tough question comes their way. Their face says, “I’m ready for this one!”

Are you more relaxed already? You should be. At the very least, someone you know will get some great advice from you based on the ideas you’ve seen outlined here. See you next month and reach out anytime.