In a year when we’ll see hundreds of new products and services launched at landmark industry events in our sectors, we look at why confidence is key in persuasive communication.

Author: Michael Grass

One of my favourite facts to share with clients during media training workshops is that most people – 75% of them, to be exact – rank public speaking as an irrational fear higher than death itself. It’s an amusing statistic when framed in a larger context. After all, is giving a presentation really worse than, say, getting hit by a bus? But it’s totally understandable if we approach it from a place of empathy.

For some, the thought of speaking on camera or to large groups of people is an unnerving prospect. Mainly because it’s an experience that takes you out of your comfort zone and often comes laden with expectation.

Company spokespeople are often required to deliver presentations to large audiences or fulfil media interviews. Yet not all of them are master debaters or born with the gift of the gab. So how do they do it? It boils down to one thing: confidence.

First of all, let’s agree that it’s absolutely normal to feel anxious about public speaking. Even experienced professionals deal with nerves from time to time. But with experience they’ve learnt a few tricks to keep their nerves in check and boost their self-confidence.

One of these is a very basic but highly effective psychological tactic. If you want to feel more confident, a good starting point is to act more confident. Ever heard the expression ‘fake it till you make it’? That’s what the tactic is all about.

It’s a catchy phrase – you have the rhyme, it’s easy to remember and it’s almost ruthless in its simplicity. However, it’s also a mantra that’s easy to misinterpret. The whole point is not for you to pretend to be someone you’re not. It’s about behaving like the version of yourself that you want to become.

Which brings me neatly to the link between confident communication and brand reputation. When a company spokesperson is addressing an audience in a professional capacity, they become the face of their brand. When the audience sees them speak, they see the company, not the individual. Knowing this may come with added pressure to deliver a standout speech, but at least it means that you are more likely to approach the speaking opportunity with the respect it deserves.

Unfortunately, there are spokespeople who may understand the crucial link between brand and speaker, but are so convinced of the strength of the corporate message or new product they are promoting, that they think it requires no effort on their part to sell it. That’s an unfortunate mistake, because it misses a fundamental rule of persuasive communication: how you say it is just as important as what you say.

Ultimately, brand perception is difficult to predict and even trickier to control. Your company can have a great set of values and well-defined messages that routinely appear in all your marketing materials, but the truth is, your brand is whatever people are thinking and saying about it.

People don’t buy into corporate messages, they buy into personalities and human qualities. And that’s why you need likeable, engaging, confident spokespeople to be the face of your brand.

For more information on how AD Communications can prepare your spokespeople to communicate with confidence in any situation, get in touch with Helen Tolino at htolino@adcomms.co.uk.

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