Sales is a transfer of confidence from seller to buyer. Prospects want to feel like they are making the best possible decision and placing their business and trust with a credible partner. When you lack confidence, it calls that trust into question and gives the prospects a reason to choose another vendor, especially when all things are equal.
Surprisingly, I learned more about confidence from my training as an actor than from any sales training I’d received. Actors learn what it takes to appear – and ultimately feel – confident under a variety of stressful circumstances: Auditions, audiences, cameras, critics, etc. Here are 3 of the most effective acting tips for greater confidence in your presentations and pitches.
3 Acting Tips for more Confident Presentations:
- Assume equal status. How you feel about yourself is conveyed subconsciously to your listener before you even open your mouth. When you assume a lower status, your body, voice, and words reflect that low status, and your listener treats you like someone with lower status. And vice versa.
To be treated as an equal, you need to assume equal status with your audience. Seeing yourself as a trusted advisor, subject matter expert or experienced leader is a vital first step to developing executive presence. People with equal status don’t apologize profusely for taking up time or being overly deferential. Be courteous and respectful at a level appropriate for a respected peer or trusted advisor.
- Prepare your instrument. Professional actors know that their voice and body transfer as much information to their audience as their lines, especially in those first few moments. That’s why good actors always warm-up before showtime – and so should you. Do a few vocal and physical drills before your presentation to be performance-ready and gain an added boost of confidence.
Amy Cuddy, the Ted speaker and author of Presence, reinforced this connection between mind and body with her research that adopting a power stance for just two minutes could actually change body chemistry so that you feel more confident. Download a free acting for sales power warm-up here.
- Act as if. Just like you, sometimes actors simply don’t feel confident — despite rehearsing their material. “Act as if” is a powerful tool for those times when your confidence needs a booster shot. “Act as If” works like this:
- Identify what confident behavior looks and sounds like for you. For example, you may stand taller, gesture more broadly, speak louder, and hold eye contact longer.
- Apply these confident behaviors as you’re practicing (or even in your conversations before your presentation). Push through even when it feels awkward and forced.
- Maintain those confident behaviors in your presentation. Very soon you will likely find that you have slipped into an actual confident state.
You can show and feel more confident in your sales presentations or conversations if you take the time to incorporate some of these and other proven acting tips in your preparation.
About Julie Hansen:
Julie Hansen helps salespeople create and deliver winning presentations and demos. Julie is the author of Sales Presentations for Dummies and ACT Like a Sales Pro! As a Keynote Speaker and Presentation Coach, Julie has been recognized as one of the 35 Most Influential Women in Sales by SalesHacker and a Top 50 Sales Bloggers by Top Sales World.
Julie spent 20 years as a sales leader in technology, advertising and media. She also worked as a professional actor, performing in over 50 plays, commercials, and television shows. Through her company, Performance Sales and Training, Julie helps salespeople leverage key principles from performance to communicate with greater confidence, clarity, and influence.