Have you met Jon Torrens?

I attended his Supreme Speaking Confidence workshop organised by Drive The Network and here’s what I learnt. 

How do you speak with confidence?

You fake it. The adage fake it till you make it really does contribute to your success in these situations. It’s all about the apparent confidence we project. Believe me, before I get up in front of a group event when there are people I know well my heart starts racing. This is when I embrace the fear.

Jon made a really interesting point that embracing the fear actually helps you. Without the fear, you’ll go forward without any worry or concern something will go wrong, you’ll be overconfident and cocky. It’s better your audience feels a sense of fear showing you’re human than projecting arrogance.

You need to avoid apologising or making excuses when you get up to speak. This just prefaces what you’re going to present with less confidence or trust. We do have a habit of saying sorry far too much.

Four core areas to keep in mind:

  • Simplicity – Keep it simple and concise. Avoid waffling or going off topic
  • Authenticity – Be yourself and be authentic about what you’re passionate about
  • Story Telling – Create a story. Your narrative can present a problem you overcame and how you did it. We love problem-solving and a good tale to go along with it. This helps you be relatable to others and overall shows you’re human.
  • Empathy – Can you communicate that you use your expertise and knowledge to provide a solution to a problem they have, and really understand how this problem makes them feel.

Then it was my turn…

Jon pointed at me, I smiled and my heart began to thump. I actually enjoy speaking in front of people and note that as soon as I start speaking the fear goes and I get into my flow. The moment I stop the nerves return and I start to shake and I know the adrenaline has kicked in.

What I loved about this group was how everyone had such constructively positive things to say. Everyone had a chance to have feedback and mine was I should smile more, make sure I’m consistent with enthusiasm in everything I say and provide some examples of my problem-solving skills.

Other great advice Jon shared was there’s so much power in using pauses. Let what you say sink in. Make sure you tailor your presentation to your situation. Try to be more slow and conversational and engage your audience than projecting information and hoping it’ll stick. Attempt to keep eye contact with your audience but remember to keep your contact moving around so you’re topping it up.

I had the pleasure to photograph him as this year as the official photographer for TEDx Anglia Ruskin. You can watch his talk here.

I always make a point to attend any events where Jon is the main feature as he has this unique vibe, dare I say aura… which draws you in and make you feel comfortable. He’s approachable and doesn’t judge you. I don’t even feel that I need to mention his awesome sense of humour considering his previous career as a stand-up comedian.

How do you deal with public speaking; are you like me and you embrace the fear or do you find yourself being an apologetic wobbly mess? I’d love to hear your experiences; leave me a comment below or Tweet me.

Jemima Willcox is a personal brand portrait photographer based in Cambridge, UK.

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