I have to do an assessed presentation this month for one of my modules, this prospect frightens me as I know it does many others. Speaking in front of groups has never come naturally to me, I consider myself quite an eloquent speaker but stumble over the simplest of words when in front of people I don’t know.
So called motivational phrases such as ‘confidence is key’ are thrown around a lot these days. Gaining confidence within yourself is easier said than done.
I went from a quiet child who kept to herself to a quiet adult who did the same, and although confidence improves with age it isn’t as simple as that. Being a person with low confidence means apologising for everything irregardless of whether its your fault or not (although I suppose this can be mistaken for being overtly British). I have reached the age where I care what people think but try not to show it, and the confidence trick, fake it till you make it, definitely applies here. As a child I would stress about saying ‘here’ in the school register to a ridiculous extent which now seems laughable.
Although I still occasionally struggle with confidence the way I managed to get to where I am today is to realise that not everyone you see/walk past/ sit next to is actively judging you, and even if they are- it doesn’t matter. I know who I am and I’m comfortable with that, the opinions of strangers shouldn’t cause me any worry, although that anxious feeling still sometimes creeps back into my mind.
When doing things that make you anxious, going to the dentist, asking a question in a lecture, or giving a presentation, you will find that the feeling of gratification is a lot higher knowing that you pushed yourself beyond what you were comfortable with and still succeeded.
The University environment is more comfortable and encourages confidence more than the school environment does as cliques and ‘popularity’ don’t really feature as everyone here gets on with their own thing. I do not count myself as the most confident person in the world but the progress I have made is admirable in itself and overcoming each situation where I have low confidence means I’m improving constantly. When overcoming worry about presentations preparation is key, sort out what you’re saying and write it in such a way as you would say it rather than using essay speak. Once you know what you’re talking about all you have to do is breathe and read it- everyone else will have to present too so you’re all in the same boat.
Breathe, stay calm and take your time- read slowly an clearly and you’ll be fine.