A seminar organizer approaches and asks you to give a talk about leadership. You’ve been a manager at a prestigious tech company for five years, and have received accolades for your outstanding performance. Your know-how, personable character and wisdom have earned you considerable respect in the industry. In a nutshell, you’re highly qualified as a guest speaker.
Yet you decline the invitation.
You doubt your own expertise. Despite your accomplishments and well-deserved reputation, you lack confidence in your knowledge and skills. Regardless of the praise and assurances you’ve received, you find it hard to accept and embrace your own very real success. Your secret fear is that everyone will discover your commendable performance and achievements have been shams.
This deep feeling of inadequacy has been labelled “impostor syndrome.” It usually stems from incorrect self-assessment. The term first appeared in an article by Suzanne Imes and Pauline Clance, psychological researchers who noticed many high-achieving women tended to underestimate and undervalue their own achievements.
In the video linked to below, Vanessa Van Edwards, lead investigator of the human research lab at ScienceofPeople.com, lists the questions you should ask yourself to determine if you struggle with this syndrome:
Do you ever feel you don’t deserve your achievements?
Do you ever worry that people will find out you are secretly unworthy?
Have you ever dismissed a success as just being the result of luck or accidental good timing?
Do you feel you have somehow tricked others into thinking you’re more successful than you actually are?
Do you think others overvalue your success?
Impostor Syndrome and Public Speaking
Evidence indicates impostor syndrome is not a mental disorder, but rather a response to a stimulus such as being required or asked to speak in public. When you talk to an audience, people evaluate your message, credibility and presentation skills. Even thinking about going through such an experience can be very intimidating to someone who tends to experience this impostor syndrome. It generates fears of being ridiculed, frowned upon, or ignored, and confidence suffers badly. However, since impostor syndrome is a mental and emotional reaction, it is possible to gain control of the phenomenon and reduce or eliminate it. Following are three steps to help you, if you experience impostor syndrome to any degree:
Being invited to speak to others, to inform or inspire them, is an honor and a privilege reserved for those who have proven their worth. If fear or doubt begin to cloud your thoughts when so invited, take a piece of paper and write down everything you have accomplished in relation to your topic. Now you’ve got a list, in black and white, of reasons why you’ve got valuable stories, tips, and insight to share. Congratulate yourself for those accomplishments; you’ve earned the self-recognition. Now prepare and practice your presentation. You’ll do well, and your audience will be glad they had the opportunity to hear you.
2. Be Authentic
Some audience members may be even more knowledgeable and experienced than you in the area of your talk, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a valuable resource. Your personal journey is different from anyone else’s. You’ve faced different challenges and struggles, taken different risks, suffered different setbacks, performed different feats, enjoyed different triumphs and gained different insights. All that adds up to significant value for even a seasoned veteran in your field. Focus on what you’ve been through, come up with clever and impactful ways to connect with your audience and relay your major messages. Give it your personal, genuine touch. Those lucky enough to be present will thank you.
3. Don’t Apologize
Some nervous speakers open their speech or presentation with lines like these:
“I’m sorry, but I’m not really an expert in…”
“I’m afraid I don’t have much experience at public speaking…”
“I’m not really such a great presenter…”
Sure, admitting a flaw (real or imagined) prevents anyone from thinking you’re an impostor, but opening with this sort of apologetic approach can be quite off-putting for your audience, and needlessly, unjustly damage your very valid credibility. It’s a fine idea to open in a way that will relieve tension and establish rapport, but do it with an anecdote, a joke, or an easily relatable scenario – something that will engage your audience and quiet your own apprehensions.
Studies have found that some 70% of people who’ve engaged in public speaking have experienced the phenomenon of impostor syndrome at one time or another. If you’re part of that population, how did you overcome it? Your experiences and tips are welcome – please take a moment to share them in the comment section below.
Over the past few months we couldn’t help but notice the increase in sales of our Google Slides templates. Even though the Google Slides app has fewer features than PowerPoint, more and more presenters are switching over to Google Slides as their go-to presentation app – possibly because of the practical, easy-to-use features it does offer. Like these: Read more
If passion was a human being, it would be a headturner.
Have you noticed how intently you listen to a speaker who speaks passionately? Take for instance the TED talk of Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Even if you’re not a classical music lover, you’ll still come away from the talk with deep appreciation for the speaker, for his talent and for Chopin, all because of his genuine passion.
Why do passionate people speak effectively? Here are three points to consider.
Presenters have different preferences in designing visual aids. Some favor animated clips, some prefer customized icons, and some opt for stock photography.
If you belong to the third group, you are fortunate to have plenty of resources. With the number of websites offering free or paid high-quality stock photos, you can easily find images that emphasize your message.
How to choose the right photos
1. Select images that appear candid and authentic. Photos should look genuine and natural – avoid shots that look posed or fake.
Every corporate leader must possess a number of essential skills. High on the list are vision, creativity, commitment, reliability, and communication.
Presentations are the most mission-critical form of the latter. More than any other form of communication—written or electronic, remote, or in-person—presentations can result in instant success or failure.
Presentations have their own particular set of essential requirements. To be successful, a presentation must:
Tell a clear, concise story
Illustrate that story with simple slides
Connect with the audience in a favorable, compelling way
Provide succinct, satisfying responses to any audience questions
Here are five corporate leaders who serve as role models for these skills, with a link to a video of each one demonstrating a particular skill.
Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder and BOD member, illustrates how to be effective with a concise story and simple slides. Read more
Many consider Microsoft PowerPoint to be the standard presentation software, but recently several companies have launched their own presentation tools and apps – which are gaining more and more popularity among presenters at all levels. Whether you’re looking for design features Microsoft hasn’t thought about yet, or simply interested in what’s different about the newcomers to the field, here’s our list of five decent alternatives to PowerPoint.
Making a positive connection with your audience may be the most important single element of successful presenting. Yet it seems like many presenters are either unaware of this point, or in the dark about how to go about it.
Here are 8 actions you can take to break the audience barrier:
#1: Make Yourself Real
Develop a more personal connection with the people you’re talking to, especially early in your talk. Tell them about a relevant personal experience. Mention something in your background that connects you with their group, their objectives, their beliefs or experiences. Giving them the feeling that you’re similar to them and share important viewpoints will make them far more receptive.
For some presenters, these words are the lead-in to the most nerve-wracking part of any presentation. Why? Ordinarily it’s because they aren’t fully prepared; this tends to make them feel reactive and defensive. Fortunately, none of that is necessary – and it’s not even hard to prevent it. That’s a good thing, too, because smooth question handling can give a big boost to audience engagement and understanding, and to the memorability of your presentation.
To help you with this, we’ve put together a little guide to some practical strategies for handling and responding to audience questions.