This was one of the least helpful pieces of advice I received before delivering my first sales presentation. Not only did it lack practical tactics or steps, I didn’t want to just appear confident. I wanted to feel confident.
Confidence is vital in sales. Prospects want to feel like they are making the best possible decision and placing their business and trust with a credible partner. A lack of confidence on the part of a presenter can quickly call that trust into question and give prospects reason to choose another vendor, especially when all things are equal.
I learned more about delivering confident presentations from my training as an actor than from any sales training I’d received. The acting tips below are tactical and proven to work in a craft that knows what it takes to appear – and ultimately feel – confident in front of an audience under all kinds of circumstances.
5 Proven Powerful Acting tips for more Confident Presentations:
Sell yourself first
Even the most skeptical of audiences want to believe in the magic of performance. And even the most jaded of business audiences want to believe that someone (maybe you!) can help them solve their problems or meet their goals. To help them believe, you must first believe that wholeheartedly yourself. Without your belief, your confidence will be nothing but a fragile shell. To reinforce your belief, focus on the value you bring to the table or a success story you’ve had prior to your presentation.
Assume equal status
Even the actor with the fewest number of lines must see her role as integral to the entire production. As a salesperson you too have a potential role in your prospect’s business, so step up and accept it with pride. Don’t apologize for taking up your prospect’s time or excessively thank them for it. Being overly deferential gives an undeserved perception of lower status. Be courteous and respectful at a level appropriate for a respected peer or trusted advisor.
Know your lines
Every actor has the nightmare of being on stage and forgetting their lines. And every good actor knows the anecdote: Practice and continue to practice until you have your lines down cold. As a salesperson you have more flexibility in what you say and when, however don’t use that as an excuse to under-prepare or wing it. Rehearsing until you have your presentation down cold – whether you use it all or not – gives you a much needed boost in confidence and allows you to go “off-script” without panicking. Learn how to memorize and practice your lines like a professional actor here.
Prepare your instrument
Take a cue from professional actors who know that their voice and body transfer as much information to their audience as their lines, especially in those first few moments. Actors wouldn’t dream of going on stage without first warming up – and neither should you. Doing a few vocal and physical drills before your presentation will give you confidence when you’re in front of prospects. Download a free power warm-up under Tools here.
Act as if
Just like you, sometimes actors simply don’t feel confident — despite all of their rehearsing. “Acting as if” is a powerful acting technique you can use for those times when you’re not feeling it (i.e., large audiences, tricky prospects, rough morning, etc.) “Acting as If” works like this:
- Identify what confident behavior looks and sounds like for you. For example, you may stand taller, gesture more broadly, speak louder, and hold eye contact longer.
- Apply these confident behaviors as you’re practicing (or even in your conversations before your presentation). Push through even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable.
- Maintain those confident behaviors in your presentation. Very soon you will likely find that you have slipped into an actual confident state.
Don’t let confidence elude you during your presentation. Use these 5 acting techniques to deliver a presentation that reassures your prospect they are making the right decision!
Photo courtesy of Chris & Karen Highland