Business Media Club blog: A question of confidence

The main focus of the BAFTA-winning film Darkest Hour is an in-depth study of the seemingly ebullient Winston Churchill on the eve of taking office as Prime Minister and his infamous rallying call for what would be his, and Britain’s, finest hour.

Brilliantly played by Oscar winner Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour is cast in the gloom many people fear of stepping out in public and raising their heads above the parapet. Churchill’s rousing oratory is among the best of all time – yet he had many failings.

Churchill was an unlikely leader who had hopped between political parties and whose reputation was blighted by a series of blunders. He cut a bloated, anachronistic figure of a bygone era and his ramblings could even have been seen as those of an outdated toff urging silly sabre-rattling instead of the more practical option of appeasement preferred by many of his political contemporaries.

And yet, somehow, Churchill’s vow that Britain would never surrender provided inspiration and instilled confidence in his audience – the British public. He listened to them, understood them, then gave them what they wanted – the will to fight.

Moreover, he made his enemies think. Hitler was wary of his troops being waylaid in hedgerows and cobbled back streets. His pilots would soon lose the skies and the tide of the war would turn. Right or wrong, Germany would receive ‘more than the measure’ for bombing British cities.

For confidence is a characteristic that cuts both ways. Few of us have Churchill’s charisma, drive or persona and fear we can’t communicate it as readily as others.

Some people are brimming with self-confidence but have very little to back it up. All front but empty rhetoric. In truth, they’re often the ones with the real self-doubt – fear of being found out.

If you’re good at what you do – you don’t fear such detail.

Yet winning confidence is key. Even using the word ‘winning’ confidence conjures up contrasting images – inspiring people to have faith and belief in us – whether personally or for the organisation(s) we work for.

But when tinged with being ‘tricked’, confidence derives a darker meaning – a device to con or coerce – false and dangerous. To be avoided at all costs, I suggest.

As a media consultant and trainer, I see the fear of public speaking and presenting and pitching proposals as the greatest barrier holding capable and talented people back.

Worse still, these are often skilled and knowledgeable people with a fascinating story to tell – so they deserve a hearing and the chance to breakthrough to the next level.

Time and again, we’ve helped people attain the skills needed to realise this ambition.

As a seasoned broadcaster I pass on tricks of the trade. A bit of sink or swim (we all have to dive in to one degree or another and ‘just do it’ as the Nike ads say) and lots of technique.

We help people to focus less on fear and more on structure and the perception of what a positive outcome looks like – the opportunity to tell their story, pitch their skills and services and to truly get their message across.

Yes, there’s some diction and elocution to learn, but mainly it is about developing a clear visual structure in your mind for an ordered recollection of what you want to say and how to say it well.

Practice makes perfect of course – learning to be light on your feet and able to connect with your audience, whether it is a public speaking gig to an audience of hundreds or a small, defined pitch to a specific group of people.

Most of all, we encourage you to be you – an authentic voice, not some off the shelf, clichéd caricature.    

Does this sound like you? Then let us help…

Our next Public Speaking for Business course is on Friday, June 22 (10am-4pm) and will enable you to deliver a confident 10-minute note free speech or business presentation.

One week later, confidence is the theme of our Business Media Club meeting on Friday, June 29 (9.45am-12.30pm) at the CGM Media Centre in Worcester – which is about how to allay fears to develop the perfect pitch.

Club member and confidence building consultant Dave Morris is co-presenting this meeting with Chris Green. To book and for further information click on the event titles above or email info@chrisgreenmedia.co.uk