I was a year or two into entrepreneurship when I was presented with the opportunity to do public relations and social media work for a large non-profit. The hitch? I had to pitch to a room of 20 people and convince them my company was the best option.
Which, up to this point, I had never had to do to win business. It was a perfect storm of all things that (at the time) scared the pants off me: A relatively large group, talking about myself, and Powerpoint. I considered backing out numerous times. I was also petrified about having a Cindy Brady moment (where you freeze up and lose the capacity to speak). The negative self talk was in overdrive: Why would this nonprofit care about what little old me — the former journalist trying to build a business — has to say?
Instead, I put together a serviceable deck, tucked my head and barreled through. About halfway through my presentation, I was overcome with a sense of calm: I knew what I was talking about. Like really knew. And I was doing a good job. They asked great questions. I answered without wavering.
Riding that adrenaline high, I mustered the courage to ask which agencies were also being considered. I did my best to maintain my composure when I realized I had just pitched against two of the largest agencies in town. And, within a few days, my company got the contract.
So how do you fake it till you make it when it comes to confidence? Well, it involves a lot of prep, so I guess technically it’s not ‘faking’ it:
Ask questions. A lot of questions. If you feel yourself spewingÂ unintelligibly (what I tend to do when I’m not feeling confident), stop talking and encourage others to do so instead. Asking questions of others will slow the conversation and take the pressure off you. It will also give the impression that you are deeply interested in that person and what they have to say.
Do your homework.Â Put those Google-fu skills to use and learn as much as possible about the subject at hand before you go.
Know your goal. What do you hope to accomplish? Knowing where you want to go/what you want to do before you head into any given scenario will serve as a gentle road map.
Be authentic. Telling someone to “Be yourself ” sounds hokey, but really, be true to who you are. The second you start trying to be/say/do something that you’re not, your facade will crumble and you appear the opposite of confident.