Empowering Successful Women to Develop Self-Confidence
by Gilda Bonanno
Two of my current presentation skills coaching clients struggle with self-confidence. They are both talented, smart, successful professional women. One has a Ph.D. in Engineering and over 20 years of experience in the electronics industry and the other is a CEO of a highly successful company.
Yet, despite their success, they struggle with self-confidence. And I've noticed this self-confidence deficit in many of my clients, women and men, from all backgrounds.
When it comes to presentations, whether to potential customers, senior management or industry colleagues, self-confidence matters.
Before you can command the attention of your audience, you have to believe that you have a message worth listening to and that you have the ability to communicate it effectively. If you don't believe it, your audience will not believe it. As consulting guru Alan Weiss says, “the first sale is to yourself.”
Self-confidence also allows you to access all of your knowledge and experience so you will deliver the best presentation that you can. It helps you think quickly when you have to answer a question or deal with something unexpected, like a technical glitch. And it prevents you from self-destructing under pressure.
These smart women worry that if they appear self-confident, they will come across as bragging about themselves. And many people share this fear, which may stem from always being told as a child and young adult that you should be extra modest and never take credit for anything even if you were responsible for it – because you don't want to sound cocky.
There is a big difference between cockiness and self-confidence. Cockiness is off-putting and detrimental while healthy self-confidence is appropriate and desirable. And most people have a long way to go before they reach cockiness.
You can learn the difference between cockiness and self-confidence by observing others, practicing self-confidence and getting feedback from trusted and supportive mentors and colleagues.
The following quote from author Marianne Williamson reminds us of the power of self-confidence in public speaking and beyond.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do….
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” —Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
So, women and men, the next time you have to present, take up your space at the table, hold your head up high and be proud of all that you've learned and achieved.
And as one person stands tall and exhibits self-confidence, it empowers others to do the same.
Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.
Copyright (c) 2010