Building Self Confidence Blog

Presenting Confidently – Top Tips for Managing Your Stage

This is post 4 of a 4 week series on presenting confidently and skilfully.

In the past 3 weeks I’ve talked about:

  • how you can gain confidence about presenting and manage yourself,
  • how to build rapport with your audience and keep their attention and
  • how to manage the content of your presentation.

This week I’m going to share with you how to manage the presentation space or stage to make your presentation more impactful and professional. I’ll include some little known secrets that only the real masters of presenting know.

Sometimes you don’t have much choice about how the presentation area is set up but I’ll be giving you some tips to make the most of what you do have.

Draw on a piece of paper, a rectangle - this is the presentation space or stage, if you have one. Divide up that rectangle into 9 squares so that you have 3 at the front, 3 across the middle and 3 across the back.

  • In the middle square at the front of that rectanglular space is what could be called the ‘Power Spot’ – presenting from there gives you the most authority with your audience. It’s a great place to begin and end your presentation. It’s also a good place to stand when you answer questions.
  • On that stage, make sure you place the visual aid you want your audience to look at most often – such as a projection screen for a Powerpoint presentation - at the back-left-hand side of the rectangle so that the audience needs to looks slightly up and to their left to see it. This is important because this is where our eyes move when we are remembering something visual. If you have another visual aid, like a flip chart, that can be placed near the back-right of the stage.
  • If you move randomly in the presentation space your audience will find the presentation more difficult to follow. It’s a bit like putting random punctuation marks in a sentence – it’s really distracting. You will also miss out on using a presentation trick of the master presenters called ‘stage anchoring’.

Stage anchoring is where you influence the audience by getting the audience used to expecting certain things will be        presented from a certain area of the stage.

Here are a couple of examples of how to use the middle 3 squares of the ‘stage’ or presentation area from left to right and why it’s important.

  • If you’ve got lots of stories or case studies to illustrate your presentation it’s a good idea to begin telling each story from the left hand square of the 3 middle squares. Then tell the middle of the story from the middle of the middle 3 squares and move to the right hand square of the middle 3 squares of the stage to finish the story.
  • If you do this several times it gets the audience used to expecting beginnings of stories when you stand on the left hand side and so on.
  • This way of using the ‘stage’ helps your audience put your content in the right order – and particularly helps the visual people in the audience to follow it better.
  • Another example is, if you have a presentation where you are talking about problems and solutions, you can use the left side of the middle section of the stage for problems and the right hand middle section for solutions.
  • This is a useful technique for influencing your audience to leave problems behind and focus their attention on solutions when you want them to – for instance if you have a progress report to give or if you’re wanting to tap into your audience’s problem solving ideas in a meeting.
  • If you haven’t got much space to move in – for instance, if you’re presenting from your chair in a meeting – you can use arm movements to suggest the different parts of your presentation instead. For example, indicate problems with your left hand and solutions with your right.
  • By the way, if the presentation before yours went badly, avoid standing in the same place as the person who presented it because the audience will connect you with that presentation. It is all to do with people’s habit of generalising and it’s another effect of stage anchoring.

While random movements from presenters can be irritating for your audience, if you do not move at all, the presentation can seem wooden. So, avoid getting stuck behind a lectern or a fixed microphone or being frozen to the spot.

  • An effective way to get movement into the presentation is to point at various features on the screen either with your hand or with a light pointer.
  • And if you’re giving a PowerPoint presentation, you can free yourself from your laptop by changing the slides remotely.
  • Moving around deliberately and purposefully is also a great way to get rid of any nervous energy.

By the way, did you know that there’s a special feature on PowerPoint that allows you to see the slide you’re presenting and the next slide on your laptop screen while your audience only sees the slide you’re presenting. That feature can help you make the presentation run more smoothly, by reminding you about what’s coming next.

My last tip is to make sure that you are standing where everyone can see you and any visual things you have to present. This may seem really obvious to you but I have seen many presentations where the room is being used for more than one activity, such as at business networking meeting. When it came to the point where someone gives a talk some people ended up sitting where they couldn’t see the projection screen.

If you spot that happening and you can’t move the screen, ask the audience to move. You’d think they would do it anyway but sometimes audience members seem to be rooted to their seats – maybe you just need to give them permission to move.

So those are a few secrets about where to stand and how to set up your stage to make the most of your presentation. You can use the front middle to add power, the middle-middle from left to right to tell stories and the back left and right to put visual aids.

There’s a lot more to the art and science of presenting…

If you want to find out more, go to

And if you want to find out more about sales presenting go to


Presenting Confidently – Top Ten Tips for Managing Your Content

p>This is post 3 of a 4 week series on presenting confidently and skilfully.

Last week I talked about how to build rapport with your audience and keep them engaged in what you’re saying.

This week I’m going to share with you 10 tips for managing your content.

Often when you are presenting you want your audience to remember what you’ve said. Research shows that it takes only 20 minutes to forget 60% of what you are told unless you deliberately set aside time to review what was said or you use the information you have been given soon afterwards.

So these tips are designed to make your presentation more memorable:

1.    PowerPoint is a great tool for creating and delivering content in presentations. However, creating many slides full of text is what gave birth to the phrase, ‘death by Powerpoint’. To help you reduce the number of words you use, map out the key topics, sub-topics and messages in your presentation and then write down key words for each of them. Stick to keywords on your Powerpoint slides and avoid sentences. That way you’ll avoid overloading your audience.

2.    Remember that PowerPoint is mainly a tool for making your presentations visually interesting. Words by themselves are not visual. So make full use of its fabulous ability to help you include, colour, photos, videos, graphs, and other visual effects.

I remember one of my clients was a technical expert and he resisted putting pictures into his presentation because he thought it would reduce his credibility – somehow it wouldn’t look academic enough.

What I helped him discover is that his audience could understand better what he was talking about when he added visual elements and so his credibility increased even more. Of course it does depend what pictures you choose!

3.    Some of my clients have tried to use the PowerPoint slides as a memory aid – so the slides are for them them rather than their audience. That can lead to a very boring presentation for your audience as you read out exactly what they can see on the slides.

If you need more words to help you remember the content, how about putting them in the ‘Notes’ section of a power point slide so that only you can read them? Even better is to rehearse the presentation so you only need the key words to guide you through it. Then you’ll be able to move around freely and express yourself more naturally – your audience will really warm to that.

4.    If you really feel that a lot of words are needed, make sure that the bullet points appear one at a time otherwise you’re audience (especially the more visual people) will be tempted to read them all at their reading pace which may be faster or slower than you are presenting – a disavantage of that happening is that you can lose connection with your audience.

5.    Use headings to guide your audience through your presentation. You can add sub titles if the topic of the heading covers more than one Power Point slide. This will help your audience understand and remember your presentation more easily.

6.    That was the first 5 tips. Here’s number 6. To guide your audience through your presentation and make it more memorable follow the example of television news:

  • Begin by briefly telling them what you will tell them – in the news that would be the headlines
  • Then tell them – give them the content – that’s where they go into more depth and bring pictures, stories and interviews on TV
  • At the end briefly tell them what you’ve told them – on the news they repeat the headlines.

7.    So now we’re at tip no. 7.

If the Powerpoint slides are going to be projected onto a screen, check what they will look like because they often look more faded and less clear than on your computer screen and so some fonts and colours you’ve used may be hard to read. Choose colours and fonts that look clear, bright and sharp even when projected.

8.    Here’s a little known tip for no 8. Keep in mind that some men are red/green colour blind so avoid using the two colours together if distinguishing between the two colours is important to your message.

9.    Remember that there are effective low tech ways of organising and delivering content. Flip charts and coloured pens can be very effective and because they are used less often these days, you can avoid the association and groans that may come with…Ohh no, another PowerPoint presentation!!!

Flip charts are also great for making your presentation more interactive and keep your audience’s attention – for instance you can gather ideas, thoughts and questions from your audience onto flip chart pages. You can tear off the pages and stick them to the walls with blue tack. At the end of the presentation you can check with the audience if all their questions have been answered. That makes your audience feel you’ve been really responsive to their needs – that’s a great rapport builder.

10. And finally, there are loads of other ways to manage and deliver your content such as webinars, teleseminars, teleconferences, CDs and DVDs that might be more suited to what you have to present. Remember to explore those too.

So, there are many ways to manage your content. I’ve covered 10 of them today very briefly, these include how to get the best out of PowerPoint and how to use low tech methods too.

If you want to find out more about confident and skilful presenting go to

If you are interested in how to improve your sales presenting and conversion rates, please go to

In my next post  about presenting confidently,  I’ll be talking about techniques to help you manage the area you’ll be presenting in to enhance your presentation, including a mysterious technique called ‘stage anchoring’.

In the meantime, good luck with your presentations. I’d love to know how you get on.


Presenting Confidently – Top Tips for Managing Your Audience


1.   Managing Your Audience

Hello, this is Madeleine Morgan from GrowU.

This is the second of a four post series on presenting confidently and skilfully. Last week I talked about four ways to manage yourself, build your confidence and create a confident impression.

This week I’m going to share with you some ideas for managing your audience and keeping your audience interested.

Because, most of the time, we get by in life with the reasonable communications skills most of us learned very haphazardly from parents, the playground and other things we’ve picked up randomly from life experience, we sometimes under-estimate the special communications skills we need to learn for career and business success.

This quotation from David Gordon gives us a useful and challenging warning:

He said: ‘Just because you are making a noise in my direction don’t assume you are communicating with me.’

Maybe you have some experiences that help you understand the value of those words such as – lost sales, failed interviews, luke warm responses to work presentations and audiences who just didn’t ‘Get it’.

With that in mind here are some useful tips:

Let’s start with some useful questions for you to answer about your presentation:

a.    What is the purpose of my presentation – to inform, engage, enthuse, educate, impress, persuade, sell, get referrals? How will I achieve this?

b.    How will I know if my presentation has been successful? Remember that presentations are more about how the message is received than about ‘broadcasting’ to your audience. The acid test of the success of your presentation is the action your audience takes as a result of it.

For instance, do they buy something from you or adopt a new way of doing things or bring you referrals or…? If your audience enjoyed your presentation but didn’t take the action you intended them to take then you need to rethink your presentation. I remember listening to a presentation on how to get more business by referral. He gave lots of useful tips but ended the presentation with a funny but irrelevant joke. I can’t remember the tips but I do remember the joke.

c.     How can I establish rapport with my audience? This is important because people are more open to accepting your ideas if they know, like and trust you. Some ways to establish rapport are outlined in the points below.

d.    What experience/knowledge/skill does my audience have in relation to the topic of the presentation? What do I need to do to ensure they understand and so feel engaged?

Through you (your body language, voice qualities, ability to summarise, live explanation, question answering etc) and PowerPoint, Role Play, Music, Video, Audience Participation etc. you have the opportunity give your audience a valuable, easily understood and interesting visual/hearing/feeling experience of your topic and make it easier for your audience to make use of the content of your presentation in the way you intended, e.g. to remember and implement.

e.    How does my audience best understand and recall information? How should that influence my presentation style?

Research shows that while spoken and written communication is important most peope also need more help:

  • 40% of people understand and remember information better when it’s presented visually – with pictures, graphs, diagrams, video etc.
  • 20% of people best understand and recall information that is heard, especially when it is said with a variety of voice tones/speeds/expressions. This may also include other sounds such as music, sound effects etc.
  • 40% of people prefer to be ‘walked through’ information step by step and/or have a practical/tactile/emotional experience of it.

f.      Make use of metaphors and stories. We naturally learn and understand by comparing what we do know to something that we don’t know. Metaphors can help your audience understand in an instant what would take many more words to explain. For instance, when people ask me what I do I often compare the life and business coaching I do to what a sports coach does – like a sports coach I help my clients get great results through helping them improve their skills and/or changing their mindset. When I explain it this way people quickly understand the value of the coaching relationship in creating success.

They say, ‘Facts tell, stories sell’. Telling a story can be a great way of opening up your audience’s mind to consider new ideas and information.

g.    What is the audience’s purpose in being there? What do they think they are there for? You may need to find out or explain that. Then you may need to explain early on in your presentation how your presentation fits with their purpose in being in the audience.

h.    What is important to your audience? How will you address their key concerns, interests, etc.? For instance, are they interested in technical excellence, ‘green’ issues, innovation, exam success, in doing a good job and being seen as professional? Your audience will be most attentive and engaged if you are showing them how to achieve what’s important to them.

i.      What are the beliefs and culture of your audience? How will you take that into account? For instance, are they suspicious of your profession? Are there common beliefs you’ll need to influence them to change?

j.      Sometimes you have the unhappy task of delivering bad news. There are ways to do this in a positive light – for instance state what has been learned from mistakes.

Apparently a manufacturer once intended to create a hard glue that would stick things together permanently. The formula turned out to be too weak but another use was found for it and Post-it notes were born!

Are there any advantages to some of the setbacks that have been experienced?

k.     When you have good news to report, make the most of it. For instance if you’re reporting on progress, mention the deliverable and then put the icing on the cake by mentioning the benefits and outcomes of achieving that. For instance, if a new website has been created for the project, what has that achieved in terms of marketing the project or how is it being used for the benefit of users? Case studies are useful stories to include here.

l.      Handling questions – this is a huge topic but here are some tips.

  • The best time to handle an awkward question is before it is asked because this gives you more control over the presentation and shows you are well prepared. That means you need to think about the difficult questions you think will be raised and give information that answers them in your presentation.
  • If you can’t answer a question at the time you can say that you will find the answer and get back to them within an agreed timescale.
  • Sometimes it’s suitable to throw the question over to the audience to get suggestions and ideas.

So, there are many ways to manage manage your audience and keep them engaged. I’ve covered 12 of them today very briefly.

If you want to find out more about confident and skilful presenting go to

If you want to find out more about sales presenting go to

Next week I’ll be talking about techniques to help you manage the content of your presentation and avoid what has been called, ‘Death by Powerpoint’.

In the meantime, good luck with your presentations. I’d love to know how you get on


Presenting Confidently for Business and Public Speaking

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p>In this post I’ll be sharing with you some valuable tips to help you present confidently and skilfully.

It’s a vital skill for your career – interview procedures for management posts increasingly include a presentation assignment for you to do to demonstrate your communication skills. Certain job roles will include presenting and in many companies it can be a great opportunity to increase your visibility, your credibility and so your salary. Business success often depends on how well you present your business to clients and referral partners.

Whether your purpose is too educate, sell, influence, inform, impress, motivate or entertain there are 4 parts to delivering a confident presentation:

1.    Managing Yourself

2.    Managing Your Audience

3.    Managing Your Content

4.    Managing the ‘Stage’ or presentation area


In this post I’m going to cover Managing Yourself

They say successful people live in a town just south of Arrogance called Confidence. A confident presentation raises your credibility with your audience and makes them more willing to listen to you.

  1. Unfortunately, surveys show that many people experience the same emotions and physical reactions as they would if they were swimming in shark infested waters! If you are one of those people, you are not alone.

A survey carried out in America found that people were more afraid of presenting than of dying!

My clients have included a director of FTSE 100 company worrying about whether his words would affect the company’s share price, owners of small and medium sized businesses presenting at networking meetings, managers in technology companies presenting to funding bodies, sales people, teachers and many others.

Many of them have been confident people in other areas of their lives but somehow when it comes to presenting they find it tough to stay calm. And the bigger the audience the bigger the nerves.

Some found they were okay once they got into the presentation but for others the whole thing was an ordeal.

Apparently when we are babies there are only 2 fears we’re born with – a fear of loud noises and a fear of falling. All the other fears we have in life are learned. So, the good news is that if fear of presenting is learned, it can also be unlearned.

So here are 3 of the many tools I use to help people tame the butterflies and getting them to fly in formation.

a.     I often use NLP and hypnotic techniques to help people overcome presentation nerves. You can also use some self-hypnosis and put yourself in a positive trance by remembering a time when you really felt confident. Think about it until you start to feel those confident emotions strongly again. Then walk on ‘stage’.

b.   In the days leading up to your presentation remember to rehearse. Do this in real life – out loud -  and also in your head. In your imagination, see the presentation turning out well. Why does this work? Well your mind works best when you focus on what you do want, rather than what you don’t want.

Your mind is a bit like a travel agent. If you said to a travel agent, ‘I don’t want to go to Birmingham’ your travel agent would have to ask you where you do want to go in order to help you. It’s the same with your mind. If you fill your mind with fears and thoughts about what you don’t want to happen, there’s little room for it to focus on how to get you the result you do want.

In fact you confuse your mind when you are nervous. Let me give you an example.

In a second I’m going to give you a command. I want you to notice what you had to do to follow that command. Okay, here’s the command: ‘Don’t think of a pair of sunglasses!’ Did you notice that you had to think of a pair of sunglasses to even process that thought? That’s because your mind finds it difficult to process negatives. So if you say to yourself, ‘I don’t want to make a mistake’ or ‘I don’t want to forget my lines’ you programme you mind to think about mistakes and forgetting rather than correct action and remembering.

c.  Breath deeply – deep, long and slow breaths are hard-wired in our nervous system to relaxation. If you are too nervous you tend to forget things, on the other hand, a certain amount of adrenalin helps you perform better.

If these confidence tips don’t completely cure your nerves, seek the help of anNLP trained presentation skills coach.

Here are some other tips for managing yourself during a presentation:

  • If you are trying to convey a positive message when your body language and voice qualities are not positive, it’s your body language and voice qualities that will be believed. You can’t see me right now but if I say, ‘I erh feel umm confident’ how much do you believe me when I use that tone of voice? Not at all! So, keep your tone and body language upbeat.
  • Because our body language and voice tones affect our emotions you will also feel more upbeat. Try it now. Check that     no-one can see you. Now, smile or laugh for no reason whatsoever. Did you notice yourself feeling happier?
  • Your body language needs to enhance your message so use gestures that are relevant to what you’re saying. Avoid random arm movements, swaying on your feet etc. because they are distracting. Hands held in front of you with palms together or facing upwards can look weak, defensive or needing to please someone. Pointing at your audience can    seem aggressive.
  • A good presenter’s stance is to stand with your feet hip width apart, your weight evenly balanced on both legs and with your knees slightly flexed. If you imagine an invisible string pulling your chest and the crown of your head upwards your back and shoulders will automatically be straight and you will look confident.
  • One authoritative way to use your arms and hands is to move your hands down and outwards in a spreading movement with your palms facing down or angled downwards. This is known as a ‘Levelling’ gesture and it says things like, ‘This is the way it is.’ You often see TV reporters using it.
  •  If you want to convey certainty or a positive message avoid words such as ‘quite’, ‘reasonably’ and ‘fairly’ – for instance, avoid ‘fairly successful’. Say it was successful or if you want to qualify the success give specific details.
  • Avoid using a voice tone that goes up at the end of a sentence, unless you are asking a question, because it can sound doubtful.

Your image

Apparently people make 11 judgements about us in the first 30 seconds of meeting us. What we wear contributes to their assessment of us. There is a saying: dress for the job you want rather than the job you have. Whether you are interested in clothes or not they are a language that conveys certain messages. Here are some translations:

  1.  If you want to create an authoritative look follow the example of people in authority and wear the deepest colour suit that suits you, a white/cream shirt or blouse/top and plain tie/scarf. Remember how Obama and Cameron are dressed on formal occasions – dark suit, white shirt and dark red or dark blue tie.
  2.  Invest in an image consultation to find out what really suits you. I remember coaching an area bank manager. He was in his thirties and enjoyed being fashionable. At the time chunky things were popular, such as wide collars and large knots in ties. The trouble was that he was very slim and so he looked swamped by his clothes as if he was a boy in man’s clothing. Because I’m trained in spotting these things I could advice him to wear narrower ties and collars that suited his build. Most people wouldn’t be able to pinpoint that reason why he seemed less professional and authoritative but they would certainly get that impression all the same.
  3. A tip for the men - red tie draws attention to your mouth which can be handy when you’re presenting.  Talking of ties,   the best length is touching your trouser waist. If you make the tie shorter or longer it directs attention to your                  stomach or, unfortunately, much lower down and gives you less credibility.
  4. If you wear a different colour jacket from your skirt or trousers you will look shorter and fatter. If you wear the same colour jacket and trousers/skirt you will look taller and slimmer.

So, there are many ways to manage your self in order to feel and convey confidence – the 4 we’ve covered today are: positive rehearsal, body language, voice qualities and image.

If you want to find out more about confident and skilful presenting go to

And if you want to find out more about sales presenting go to

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