Fake It 'Til You Make It

A few tips to remember the next time you're presenting.

If you’ve ever spoken at the front of a room of people, you might be familiar with the rush of self-doubt you feel right as the lights turn on, you’re handed a mic, and step up to the podium.  

You’re not alone; that that feeling is normal—but it can be avoided.

The phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it” is one of those frustrating things that people seemingly say when they’re out of other words of encouragement. It’s easier said than done.  And while I hate to pile on, there are a few elements of truth to this.

Here are a few things to keep in mind next time you find yourself in front of a table of coworkers, eyes on you:


1. Like your mother says, you’re special.

Whether it’s a few slides or an entire talk, you should find confidence in knowing that no one in the entire world has designed exactly what you have. (Unless, of course, you've plagiarized, in which case we need to take a trip back to elementary principles of stealing what isn't yours). By simply being your work, it is unique. And because of that, you already have a leg up.


2. No one wants to see you fail.

You know that feeling at comedy improv or standup shows when the first person strolls up to the mic and you cringe, thinking “please be good, please be good”? Your audience is the same in that they want to get something out of this. In fact, with the hundreds of dry or under-rehearsed pitches investors hear regularly, they are probably dying for you to catch their attention. Dispel the notion that the audience is the enemy—just like everyone wants to laugh at a standup show, no one wants to watch you fail. 


3. Practice makes permanent.

A former theater instructor always chanted this variation of “Practice makes perfect” because no, nothing is ever going to be absolutely perfect. There’s always going to be another slide to tweak or a link that might not click-through. But the more you practice, the more confident you are, and the more cemented your presentation becomes.

Here’s the thing: if you’re the one standing and talking, then you’ve already accomplished half the battle. You’ve clearly earned your right to be there. Perhaps someone even asked you! This means people trust you.

Now, go on—trust yourself.