Aside from presenting and presentation design, one of my passions is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve written about it before in a post relating the fear of fighting to the fear of presenting, which in fact are both solved (or at least managed) by practice, practice, practice!
Well I’m at it again, relating BJJ to presenting and public speaking.
I was recently reading about how important confidence is in jiu-jitsu. The author, Jason Scully from The Grapplers Guide, wrote:
about if something is going to work, or if your opponent is going to counter your attack. You should just go for it with 100% confidence that you are going to make something happen. That no matter what, even if your opponent counters your movements you should have 100% confidence in yourself that you can counter right back.
It made me think about presenting and how important confidence is in order to effectively present. There’s no question that presenting is extremely difficult, particularly because of the inherent fear that comes with it. When you present you’re (for lack of a better term) “putting yourself out there” in front of audiences, peers, and others. It’s a place where we feel vulnerable, scared, fallible, and judged. There are plenty of resources, including this blog, to help you become a better presenter and presentation designer, but it’s not like riding a bike. Every presentation is different and poses certain challenges and possible disasters.
Don’t get me wrong, you can DEFINITELY succeed as a presenter. But in order to do that, you must have confidence in yourself and what you’re presenting. I add the latter part because I truly feel that you have to believe in your presentation topic to present effectively. If you’re selling a product or service, you have to believe in what you’re selling. True, you can fake it till you make it, but if you don’t believe then you’re performance will suffer. This is the real world though, and I realize we don’t always have a choice, so I digress. With confidence, you will be able to manage your fears better and maintain your focus. Without confidence in yourself as a presenter, you will be opening the door for doubt and nerves – often allowing them to get the best of you.
Mistakes can (and will) happen, but as Jason said, even if your attack is countered (or you run into a presentation speed bump), you have to be confident that you can counter right back – you have to be confidence that you will move on from the mistake and crush the rest of your presentation.