Presenting: there’s no need to be afraid

no fear words written by hand on a transparent board

9 Mantras to build your confidence and deliver great presentations 

I had a great time with one of my groups this week delivering Presentation Skills. It’s one of my favourite courses and I wanted to share some thoughts on how to build your confidence in this arena using  ‘mantras’ to get rid of the self-limiting beliefs holding you back, mantras to boost your resources and present with confidence.

Many people who come to my course are there to address a common concern: they want to be more confident and less afraid of presenting. With my recent group I asked everyone to stand on an imaginary line to represent their degree of discomfort, using a scale from 1 -10, with 1 being “completely comfortable” to 10 being “terrified “.

Would you believe that the lowest score we had in a group of 13 highly capable and qualified people was a 5?  Many were 8s, 9s…. 10s!  This is quite common and I’ve spent the last few years analysing this and helping people overcome it.

Technology and tools to aid our presentations, in my view, have made it harder to address these fears and easier to cop out.   A phrase I often use is It’s not about PowerPoint.  Many presenters mistakenly think PowerPoint slides are the presentation and opt for hiding behind the show rather than being on show.  It’s not about PowerPoint because people have asked you to present to people for a reason.   And it’s not to read bullet points to them from a slide deck.

The presentation is your chance to to engage and commit the audience to do/say/think differently after you have finished with them.  You simply can’t do that if your are paralysed by fear and even the slightest dip in confidence will diminish your impact.

So what can you do about it?

Quite simply you start by deleting all the negative thoughts that contribute to our worst fears and replace them with better thoughts, ones that show these fears to be false.  These ‘mantras’, if you repeat them often enough, make it easier when you present.

Fear: “I’m no good at presenting, it will be awful”

Replace with Mantras about your ability:

  1. Everyone can deliver a good presentation and that includes me
  2. Successful presentations are built on good planning and preparation
  3. If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right… so I think I can! 

Everyone can present well. Some of us will be good and some of us will be TED class speakers .  If we plan and  structure it well we can all deliver a well received presentation. Have faith in your own expertise and remember someone has asked you to present for a reason, it isn’t a random event and they think you can do it too.  Believing you can do it is much less stressful than believing you can’t.

Fear : “I know the audience is going to think I’m …..”

Replace with Mantras about the audience:

  1. The audience wants me to succeed
  2. I always know more than the audience does*
  3. The audience is there to see/hear what I have to say

By all means research on your audience, this is good practice. However, trying to guess what’s in their heads before you start is wholly destructive.  You will know how uncomfortable it can be as an audience member to watch a poor presenter and your audience is no different.  They want you to succeed in giving them a good time.

*People often cite examples of presenting to more senior or more qualified people as a counter argument to this second mantra.  I repeat, someone has asked you to present, so the key here is in surprising your audience.  They don’t know what you are going to do or say or show them, so you will always be able to find something new and interesting to make them think.  In the context of your presentation, you always know more than they do.  Audiences are generally much more forgiving than you expect them to be.

Fear: “I always let nerves get the better of me”

Replace with Mantras about “nerves”:

  1. Nerves are my friend not my enemy
  2. There is a positive intention behind my nerves
  3. My nerves are really just excitement – I’m excited not nervous

Nerves are natural. If you don’t have any nerves you may have cause for concern.  Nerves are just a part of you, sending out a helpful warning signal that says “be careful – something lies ahead”.  If you think about it, the physical response you get: butterflies, feeling slightly nauseous, are the same as when we feel excited about something.  Just think about your first love, offer accepted on the dream home, landing that new job or contract. How did you feel?  Where did you feel it?

Instead of thinking “nervous” think “excited” it works for me and I know the best presentations I’ve given have been to the biggest audiences (in the 100s) when I channeled nerves into excitement.  I knew my stuff.  I had rehearsed.  I had tested the visual aids and the equipment.  As all the people filed in, I chose to be excited rather than nervous.

A final tip on this is to talk to the nagging voice in your head , this sounds daft but engaging with it is highly effective. So if you hear the voice saying “I’m going to mess this up” or “I’ll lose the place and forget my words” simply say to that part “Thank you for your concern but I’m fine, now kindly **** off!”.   It works.

The more you present, the less you will fear presenting and I hope the 9 Mantras of Presenting accelerate that process for you.  Let me know.


No Guru provide training on presentation skills; “It’s Not About Power Point”  – how to design and how to deliver great presentations.  Contact us for more information.


Posted by John Drysdale
10th March 2016
John's Blog


The ILM Qualified Coach

Your guide to choosing a qualification

In the last 12 months we’ve seen an upsurge in the number of people looking to gain one of our ILM Coaching & Mentoring Qualifications, which is fantastic.

One of the early discussions I have with candidates is to answer questions around: ‘what will it give me?’ or ‘what level of qualification should I go for?’ and ‘should I do a Certificate or Diploma?’.

I’m always very happy to have those conversations but I thought I might attempt to bring a bit of clarity to people considering an ILM Qualification in Coaching & Mentoring to progress their career.


An ILM Coaching Qualification; how will it help me?

I recommend that anyone in a coaching role considers getting a recognised qualification. It makes sense as Coaching is coming under increasing scrutiny as a profession with much debate about the quality of provision. Clients want to know their coach has received adequate training and people commissioning coaching will consider competence before contracting a coach.  I have been involved in tenders for contracts where commissioners specified the qualification level of coaches required within the framework.

For the individual, we have seen how our ILM programmes have opened up new opportunities, both for people working within an organisation and consultants or freelancers who now have an additional and credible tool or service that can add value to their client base.

In summary it makes you credible and attractive to anyone commissioning you and gives you the confidence to believe you are now ‘the coach’.


What Level of Coaching Qualification should I go for?

Levels of qualifications are set according to the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) in England.  A decent explanation of academic levels can be found here :

For coaching and mentoring I usually ask about the context you will be coaching and how you want to apply these new skills:


Coaching Executives, CEOs and Directors

This would suggest a Level 7 Certificate or Diploma may be right for you. Academically it suggests something at masters degree or post grad and requires a greater understanding of coaching in a strategic arena. We take particular care that people registering for this level are able to practice their coaching at a strategic level and can in some cases support them in finding ‘clients’ for the practical elements.  Freelance Executive Coaches need this one.


Coaching Managers and Leaders

The Level 5 Certificate or Diploma would be ideal for this target audience. This is also a substantial undertaking requiring in depth knowledge and demonstrating practice.  It is broadly equivalent to a foundation degree or some other types of degrees. I always recommend this to people working in large organisations going through change or growth and where there is an opportunity to introduce coaching as a development tool in the organisation. It is really useful to consider this within HR or Training functions and clients have asked us to deliver programmes to entire teams.

Level 5 may also be useful for those starting out as a business coach at the smaller end of the SME market and we know from experience that many people want to get involved with start ups or helping people transition from employee to self-employed business owner.


Coaching Front Line Staff or Team Leaders

Level 3 provides a foundation and is useful for people in a training role or coaching front line staff or team leaders. It provides a route into a training or development type role for those in an operational role and can open up some great career opportunities. The ILM Level 3 is highly work contextualised and suits larger work places e.g. large contact or service centres are ideal.


Your prior academic experience, continuous professional development and experience at the various levels is fairly important in choosing your path and we always discuss this prior to registering you with ILM.

For the coaching suite it comes back to:

Why do you want to do this qualification?

What context will you be coaching in?

Who will you be working with?


Certificate or Diploma?

Both our Level 5 and Level 7 qualifications have the option of achieving a Certificate or Diploma.  The difference between the Certificate and the Diploma is around the practical element and the ‘extended’ period of coaching for the Diploma. This carries additional credits (a measure of your learning).

This table shows how many hours coaching you need to provide evidence for each level at Certificate and Diploma.

Level Certificate Diploma
Level 5 12 hours 100 hours
Level 7 20 hours 100 hours


There are some other requirements around how you access supervision under the extended period but this is the main difference. The Diploma should be undertaken if coaching is a significant focus of your role.  We often get asked how many people (clients) you need.  Just as a rough guide we would normally expect you to work with a particular client somewhere between 6 and 12 hours in total for coaching (though mentoring relationships may be longer).


How long will it take me?

We believe the Certificate at both L5 and L7 can be achieved in a 9-12-month time frame but it varies according to the individual. The Diploma is harder to quantify, and we generally meet with those candidates to identify a realistic timeline.

Making good progress early in the programme generally means candidates complete in excellent time.


How can you help?

This article is simply to help guide your thinking. I will always have a call or a meeting with a prospective ILM candidate to identify what is the right qualification for you at this time and how we can help you progress.  I want all my candidates to succeed.  After all many of them are self-funded and it’s important to me that they not only enjoy the classroom sessions and engagement with the wonderful people we have on our cohorts but that they come away with a recognised Qualification to further their goals and aspirations.

One thing we do know is there is a direct correlation between attending our (now monthly) tutorial sessions and achieving the qualification. These are provided as part of our programme and follow the 6 classroom dates.  I really enjoy these sessions because I can see people remove the fear of assignments and become inspired to go out and develop their coaching practice and ultimately their ILM Qualification.

If you are thinking about a Qualification in coaching & mentoring I would be happy to have that call or cup of coffee and a chat.

Our next programme starts on February 23rd 2018 in Liverpool click here for more details

You can contact me on:

0844 873 1226

Or email:


ILM Approved Centre



Liverpool based training company, No Guru is ‘leading in learning’ as the ILM city region hub

North West employers now have access to professional development qualifications for management, team leaders and supervisory staff as Cotton Exchange based training company, No Guru becomes the Liverpool City Region hub for ILM accreditation.


University Contract extended for 2 Years

Leeds Beckett University relationship extended

We are delighted to announce our current contract to provide Staff Training and Team Building to Leeds Beckett University has been extended a further 2 years.

During the next academic year we will be running new programmes around:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Leading Change
  • Leading & Empowering People
  • Working to Strengths
  • Designing and Delivering Presentations

Additionally we will continue to work with Teams to deliver on the University Strategic Framework as well as completing our first ILM Level 5 Coaching & Mentoring programme for internal ‘Coaching Champions’.

We would like to thank People Development and everyone at Leeds Beckett for making it a great place to work.



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