How do I come across? About self image and speaking confidence.

woman with mirror
Every one who speaks in front of an audience gets one or more visits from a voice in the head asking this exact question. And we so want reassurance that we come across well. Whatever ‘well’ might mean.
There seems to be some kind of universal lack of confidence in this area. The paradox I notice is that we are so eager to learn what the image is that we bring across and at the same time we are hesitant to have a close look at our image ourselves!


The professionals I support always get video-recordings of their presentations. Just the fact that I give them the assignment to watch their own footage raises a lot of discomfort. Many find it really hard to watch themselves. I mean, really face themselves in all aspects.

Why is that? Some of the tension is caused by unpredictability. You cannot predict what exactly you will discover and you can never be certain if you can handle what you will learn about yourself.

Every presentation can thus be a potential confrontation between your self-image and yourself. You want to come across in a certain way and be in a certain way and we may discover that that is not happening. We don’t want to feel such disappointment about ourselves so we avoid facing it.

Self-image is how you think you are. What you believe to be true about yourself. Unfortunately that image does not necessarily match who you really are. You can have characteristics that you are not aware of or ones you don’t want to have.
These unconscious and denied characteristics can cause a lot of stress. That also is true for characteristics you think you have and which you actually don’t have.

An example. Jack discovers on one of his videos that he is acting like a clown. He considers himself to be a pacemaker and yes, this is what he always does when he speaks. Watching his video two times in a row is undoable for him, he cannot stick with the film. He thinks he is terrible like this and he does not really recognize himself.
He also thinks he is acting ‘over the top’.
In my conversations with Jack it appears that he actually IS a funny guy without being ‘over the top’. I coached him on that and after an hour he could see himself on video BEING funny without DOING funny.

Videos, constructive feedback and … your mirror [!] can answer your questions about your self-image and how you come across. And once you watch your videos more often and longer, you will see what your audience really sees!

In order to speak confidently and in a relaxed manner it is vital to become aware of your characteristics when you are in front of people. Chances of surprising yourself will die down; your characteristics will not jump at you from behind a curtain. Predictability increases and stress will be reduced.

Moreover, you give yourself a chance to discover new ground, new qualities about yourself that will enable you to improve your overall presentation.

Have a look in the mirror more often and watch your video footage. Again. And again. Become more and more confident with yourself and your speaking confidence will go through the roof.

Good luck with your confident presentation and let me know what comes up for you by leaving a comment below.