2/9/08, I requested of my professional speaker network at www.linkedin.com;
a professional speaker, from where does your platform confidence
The answers came mostly from Americans, however some from as far away as
Australia. The following answers are listed in the order received:
It emanates from knowledge. If you know the audience and you know the
material you should have all of the confidence you need. If you still
flop, your confidence comes from the fact that you have a "plan
B" in your pocket.
My platform confidence emanates from my experiences in twenty-plus years
of customer service management. Since customer service is my only topic,
I know my audiences sense that I did what they currently do. They
believe in the integrity of my message. The mutual respect between me
and my audiences gives me the confidence to push the envelope.
For me, it has been the journey and now the unique journey. Some of the
dragons are slain and some embraced and some are still hiding nearby:
fear, isolation, ridicule, pride, humility, belief, love. At the
beginning it was the knowledge of the audience, the material, the
persona and now is the knowledge of how to transcend the boundaries and
bring others along for as long as they desire. I am confident only in
the path and that I am on it.
1. Confidence in my material and expertise. I know that what I have to
say is important and relevant to the audience's needs. I have done my
research and know what I need to do. The work has been put in to ensure
I can be confident in what I'm going to say before I ever walk on
2. Experience and confidence in my skills. There are very few situations
that I haven't seen over the years. The comfort in knowing that I have
previously succeeded in difficult situations gives me confidence that I
can handle anything that comes up.
3. Obligation and duty. The audience and the person who hired me expect
a level of confidence from me. It is part of the package for the fee I
am paid. To show less than a level of confidence that increases the
opportunities for success is taking money I didn't earn.
Confidence comes from knowing:
That what you have to say will be of value to these people.
That you can say it in a way they will enjoy hearing it.
Sounds trite, but there is a lot of waterfront in here.
Everything from purely humor to creating the discomfort of challenged
"value" & "enjoy" are situational to your
purpose, but within those parameters is the 'knowing' that let's you
stand & deliver.
I think you get to the 'knowing' from experience . . . having delivered
similar things to like groups on numerous occasions, and getting the
feedback that says it worked.
We get into trouble when we get into "absoluter knowing" . . .
no question, doubt,
hope-I-got-this-right-for-this-group at all . . . that's when we hit
Having confidence is good . . . being so cock-sure that you have inkling
of worry at all I think is a bad sign.
Great stagecraft will get you through almost any situation, but the
pre-work that goes into assuaging the bagging concerns, and builds the
confidence, is what gets you re-booked.
Confidence comes from the knowing of experience, and the not being
absolutely sure each time.
Hope this helps . . . actually, just hope it makes sense : - )
33 years plus of professional singing and speaking the only way to
go is up. (Meaning spiritual).
rely completely and whole heartedly on the Divine.
Source of all which is also the Spark within me.
ask for myself to simply be an instrument and a vessel for the Love to
work through me.
I do my homework, I learn the necessary information--but I do it first
with the idea that it's not me speaking or singing--it's True
Source---my True Self can come forth if I get out of the way---that
is....of course... my brain.
also ask to say what needs to be said to this particular audience
and for the highest vibration of love to pour forth. Anything else is my
thinking which can be flawed and or skewed by my own limited
heart work, not brain work.
hearts' power is infinitely
than the brain---and your' talking to the queen metaphysical teaching
here, Ed, a Religious Science Practitioner a life long student of
truth---, third generation Unity kid, and I've read more books on the
subject of spiritual transformation than I care to share, it's not
in the thinking---it's in the heart.
more people knew how powerful the heart was, they'd be using it and
becoming so much more powerful---in a Good way!
My confidence comes from being an expert in my topic and knowing my
"stuff". I am far more confident on the material I know best
and have practiced and polished.
I am also confident because I have been speaking now to groups for 18
years so I am very comfortable in front of people and with a microphone.
always had an ease in front of groups, dating back to grade school. I
was given many opportunities earlier than most would have to build
on that confidence: class office roles in high school, anchoring two
television newscasts a day at age 19 on the
public television system, etc. Critically important: I married at
age 21 and Jonellen (wife) always expressed confidence
in me...even as she does now.
My platform confidence comes from my technical expertise and to a lesser
degree from my physical appearance on the platform.
I am a content expert and a seasoned consultant in the field I speak on,
financial management of small and middle market companies. Anything that
goes into a speech comes from actual consulting success in using it in
some fashion in a consulting environment.
Also, I know I have the requisite amount of grey hair and strong
speaking voice that people pay attention when I speak off the platform,
so I believe (rightly or wrongly) that it carries over to some degree
when I'm on the platform.
Boy, this is a tough one for me. Let me see if I can ramble usefully at
1. To start with, I think I was wired differently at birth. Although I
was no screaming extrovert as a youngster, I was one of the rare kids
who wasn't at all nervous getting up in front of the class to talk or do
something. It's not that I craved opportunities to do this, it's simply
that it wasn't at all a big deal. So I think something in my nature
suppressed the nerves that other people seemed to experience when
presenting to others.
2. At the same time, I did experience some nerves when I began
practicing law and had to appear in court. It was helpful here just to
get some appearances under my belt, but I also benefited greatly from a
series of classes I took with some acting teachers in
who specialized in teaching lawyers how to do better in court. One of
the things they taught was a fairly extensive set of relaxation and
focusing exercises to be performed before stepping into court. These
could be done in the men's room or some other private location, and I
found them extremely helpful. I still go through a version of this
before any kind of performance.
3. There is no question in my mind that preparation -- knowing the
material cold, thinking through how it will be presented, practice,
previous experience with the same material, learning from past mistakes
-- has a huge impact. I always think of Mark Twain's remark about
"the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces."
4. I have also benefited from training in acting, presenting,
improvisation, and related skills. It allows me to understand better
what is happening when I am in front of people, and to take advantage of
my natural gifts while playing down things that tend to work against me.
5. There is also an intellectual side, which derives from the
realization that most of the people in any audience WANT you to succeed.
They want to learn something, or be entertained, or be taken on a
journey with you. As long as you treat them with respect, and don't do
anything to turn them against you, the audience members are on your
side. This is a huge insight (and demonstrates the foolishness, to me at
least, of tricks like "imagining that everyone in the audience is
naked" or some such).
6. Finally, perhaps, there is the realization that the perfect
presentation has yet to be given. There are inevitably flaws or kinks,
at least from the presenter's perspective. Yet audiences are still
appreciative, and many times don't even notice what may seem to you like
a glaring screw-up. The ability to relax and realize that you are only
human, and can only aspire to "suck less" with each successive
presentation, goes a huge way toward making things more comfortable and
relaxed, which in turn helps make the presentation better. Audiences to
some extent take their cue from you as to whether the presentation is
7. I guess there is one other technical point I should add. I was
coached long ago to make sure that the opening and closing of the
presentation were thoroughly prepared and committed to memory. Knowing
that you have mastered a strong beginning and a strong ending would be a
good confidence booster.
I believe true confidence comes from preparedness. Counterfeit
confidence is when you try to convince others of your expertise.
My confidence comes from knowing that:
1. It is the "right" audience. There are people I "talk
to" and those I don't. I can't have confidence if it is the
"wrong" audience. I've learned to avoid those audiences like
2. If I'm doing a program that is "mine". I don't want to get
in front of an audience unless I'm talking about a subject that I really
3. If I am 110+% prepared--physically, mentally and technically. I hate
not feeling well or having the technology messed up, so I make sure I'm
110% across the board.
Self awareness based on actual past experience that has been successful
in the eyes of self as well as others. Learning from past failures and
having a preponderance of past success. A fundamental belief that all
experience has the potential to be beneficial.
I believe platform confidence should be real. I know that if I truly
turn up 100% authentic every time I speak wondering how I can best serve
my audience, there is no need to 'fake it'. On platform I chat with my
audiences about topics I feel comfortable with and enjoy talking about.
If they ask a question I don't know the answer to I simply ask the
audience for their assistance or find the answer for them. Having
confidence is contagious; if you have it then it rubs off on your
My confidence comes from knowing that my audience and I are simply
having a conversation, no reason not to be confident really! It also
helps I have several years of experience, trust my knowledge, trust my
audience and I have a sense of humor. Being able to laugh if anything
throws you or happens on platform also shows confidence and helps your
audience relax too.
Platform confidence comes from thorough understanding of your subject as
well as years of experience in your area of expertise. You exude
comfort, poise, and confidence when you have the ability to deliver a
range of content in a variety of settings and with a variety of
1) 29 years of experience... The habit of standing up to speak, knowing
I have something interesting to present and that I've been received well
countless times in the past (well, I've lost count, anyway)
4) Interacting with members of my audience beforehand.
Outside of events like sky diving, which involve physical danger; lots
of people avoid fearful situations because they donít want to fail or
perhaps more accurately they donít want to be seen to fail. Failure
itself isnít what bothers many people; itís the idea that others
will see them fail that causes the fear. Public speaking is one of the
most common fears in modern society but how much real physical danger
are people facing on stage? I suppose you could be hurt by the rotten
vegetables but in truth most people are scared of what the audience
might think of them.
The athlete who is nervous about his performance faces the same
challenge Ė if he was certain that no matter what he did, he
couldnít lose the race then heíd have no nerves but this situation
never exists so the athletes train themselves to use the fear rather
than let the fear use them. If we let the fear use us we will run away
but if we can harness the fear and use the power that it provides then
we can do an amazing job.
The ability to use the fear is what we call confidence and fortunately
itís a skill that everyone can develop. It isnít genetic, something
that only a chosen few are born with, itís a skill anyone can learn as
long as they are prepared to face their demons and attempt the thing
they fear over and over again, accepting that failure is a necessary
part of the learning process. Action cures fear Ė nothing else.
Itís interesting but most top athletes will tell you that the fear
never goes away; they just get better and better at using it to help
them perform. As many people have said; the butterflies in the stomach
will always be there, however with practice we can get them to fly in
I get my own speaking confidence from three areas:
Preparation. It's my experience that most people don't practice enough.
Even after 20 years of professional speaking I still practice at least
one small part of my keynote almost everyday.
Experience. If I feel some nerves then I review my own experience in my
subject and compare that to the likely experience of my audience and I
almost always come out on top. Knowing more than them makes me the
expert and gives me confidence.
People. I've found if I can spend sometime speaking with my audience
before I go on stage, finding out their wants, fears and needs then they
become more human and less scary! When I do this I always meet someone
nice or hear a great story that I can talk about from stage and I've
then got a friendly face in the audience to concentrate on.
Confidence comes from knowing my stuff and hoping that I can deal with
any question thrown my way - including knowing when I don't know the
answer, but do know where to find / research it.
Lack of confidence comes when I get nit-picked to death . . .
My platform confidence comes from two things: knowledge of and
experience with my subject matter and knowledge of and relationship with
my audience. Since most of my audiences are relatively small (25 and
under), the second of these is generally easier than with large
audiences. However, even when I do speak to larger audiences, I make a
point of talking with as many of them as possible in advance of the
meeting and during the time prior to my presentation.
The most common answer I suspect that you will hear is that it comes
from knowledge of one sort or another. An in-depth knowledge of the
subject being discussed or thorough preparation; both true for me. So is
experience--the more you do it the easier it becomes--also true for me.
However the real source of confidence for me personally springs from one
source. I am not afraid of people.
This might sound strange but much of my comfort in front of a group is
based on my absolute understanding and belief that they are not out to
get me and that we will like each other.
confidence comes from (1) my conviction to what I am speaking about, and
(2) being very well prepared when I walk on the platform. I believe that
what I have to say is of value to my audience. I believe my style of
speaking (very conversationally with humor and well paced) will give my
audience an experience that will be of interest, enjoyment and value to
them. I ALWAYS prepare thoroughly before my presentation, and that is a
real confidence booster. I know my subject, I know my audience, I have
customized my presentation to address their needs, so I believe I am
prepared should any unforeseen occurrences happen.
An interesting and valuable question Ed.
My confidence comes from knowing that the principles I teach are
universal and also realizing that their application may vary with each
audience or person. So I spend much time studying my audience and
thinking about the one overriding question that I need to answer with
every speech: "Why would they want to learn what I have to tell
Until I answer that, I'm not ready to address them.
I also remind myself that I know what I know, and I know it very well.
They may know about it but I know it thoroughly. It's like when I
addressed an audience of Doctors last night. I knew very little about
medicine but they knew equally little about my topics.
That makes it worthwhile for them to learn from me and vice versa.
I also start every speech by reminding myself to Respect, Admire and
Like my audience. That's an idea I once got from the late Judge Lee
I do a few physical things to prepare myself just as I start to speak:
Breathe slowly and deeply,
Smile and stand proud while being introduced,
Start the presentation with a long pause while catching the eyes of a
few audience members.
While speaking, I have given myself permission to laugh at my own
obvious goofs. That seems to relax me and warm the audience - which
boosts my confidence - "they like me".
There are still those occasional panic attacks - "they don't like
me". That's when I tell myself "They don't know that they were
supposed to laugh."
For me, there are three main factors, specifically:
1) Knowing my topic: it really helps that I speak on a very niche
subject (effective citizen advocacy) and have the background to
demonstrate I know what I'm talking about.
2) Trusting my audience: if I'm ever nervous, I always remind myself
that the audience doesn't want to have a bad time -- they want to have a
great experience and, in many ways, are pulling for me. So I try to
think of every speech as a collaborative experience.
3) Being myself: I find that when I try to change my style to suit a
client it never works very well. So now I always tell people that if
they want a serious, policy-wonkish kind of presentation, I'm not going
to be appropriate for their audience.
Platform confidence comes from being prepared. Know your stuff (content)
and know your audience.
My real confidence comes from the fact I have experienced what I teach.
My topics are management, leadership, strategic planning, sales and
running corporations. I have done all of the above. At times have
failed, then other time greatly succeeded. What I speak about was not
learned from others, or a book. It comes from having lived through the
Ed ... good topic ... as with most things I've experienced in life,
confidence on the platform comes from preparation, practice, and
confidence in our equipment. As a US Army Ranger I found that the better
prepared we were the more confidence we had. We had to know how to
complete the task. We needed confidence in our equipment. We required
practice. The more we prepared, the more confident we were in execution
of the mission.
The same thing worked for us in corporate
and now on the platform.
If we cannot trust our preparation or equipment, we cannot be confident
in our performance. The more we practice, the more prepared we are to
stand before the audience and deliver.
Waldo Waldman wrote:
Preparation, preparation, preparation. When you're prepared, you feel
more comfortable in your skin. And when that happens, you can relax and
focus more on connecting with your audience. When you connect, people
My platform confidence emanates from absolute certainty in the fact that
my knowledge and experience will benefit most of those present.