It takes some measure of confidence to stand up at the front of a room and give a presentation to begin with. However, once you’re there, your actions will be telling whether you can actually exude confidence and take command of a webinar – or not.
We all have nervous habits that we succumb to at times. However, for the duration of your presentation, putting them aside is essential to gaining the confidence of your audience. Nervous habits can make you look like you lack confidence in yourself, and if you don’t have confidence in yourself, how can your audience?
These nervous habits are among those that look the worst when displayed during a virtual presentation. You might not even notice that you’re prone to doing some of these subconsciously – typically once something’s a habit, it’s not only hard to stop, but also hard to realize you’re even guilty of it.
Biting or Picking Your Fingernails
This habit can easily start in childhood and, if it isn’t nipped in the bud, continue into adulthood, where it is much less forgiven. Keep this one under wraps by taking good care of your hands. Biting or picking your fingernails has a somewhat OCD element to it, so getting a regular manicure or painting your nails is one way to stop it. If you’re prone to biting, there are bad-tasting products on the market that you can use to coat your nails and train yourself to stop.
Avoiding Eye Contact
Avoiding eye contact can give off the signal that you’ve got something to hide, can’t be trusted, and don’t trust others. At the very least, it shows submission and shyness, which is the opposite of how you want your audience to think of you. Practice your talk in front of others beforehand to get more used to maintaining brief, but meaningful eye contact with your audience. If eye contact is too uncomfortable, try looking elsewhere on their face, such as their nose or between their eyebrows.
Whether it’s chewing on a pen or pencil, playing with your hair, or excessively adjusting your clothing/jewelry, fidgeting is a nervous habit that becomes more obvious the more you do it. Sometimes these things can look natural, but exhibiting this behavior more than handful of times during a presentation will distract your audience and detract from your message. Keep anything that you might chew on far away from you, and keep your hands folded if it stops the fidgeting. If you worry about your appearance, do a full once-over just before going on screen to calm your nerves.
Talking Too Fast
When the mind starts racing, the brain does, too. You might be exhibiting nervousness if you find your speech speeding up during your presentation. Talking too fast can make your audience lose you and get in the way of your ability to emphasize important points. To limit the damage, do whatever you need to do before your talk to relax (meditate, deep breathing, a pep talk, etc.) Be mindful of your talking speed and style throughout your presentation, and monitor whether you need to adjust it or not to appear more confident.
Laughing Too Much
Similar to talking fast, laughing a lot during a presentation displays a lack of conviction. It might even appear to your audience that you don’t take yourself or your topic seriously enough. A few chuckles here and there can provide some levity to your presentation. However, limit it to that, and keep the rest inside by taking steady breaths throughout your presentation to relax. Allow yourself to pause instead of feeling the need to fill the silence. The rule of thumb is to act and appear natural.