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5 acting tips for more confident presentations

Sell yourself and then sell your product or service


“Show confidence!”

This was one of the least helpful pieces of advice I received before delivering my first sales presentation. Not only did it neglect practical tactics or steps, I didn’t just want to appear confident. I wanted to feel and truly be confident.

Confidence is vital in sales.

Prospects want to make the best possible decision and place their business and trust with a credible partner. A lack of confidence on the part of a presenter can quickly call that trust into question and give prospects reason to go with another vendor.

I learned more about delivering confident presentations from my training as an actor than from any sales training I’d received.

The tips below are tactical and proven to work in a craft that knows what it takes to appear – and ultimately feel – poised and assured in front of an audience under all kinds of circumstances.


  1. Sell yourself first
    Even the most skeptical audiences want to believe in the magic of performance. And even the most jaded of audiences want to believe that someone (maybe you!) can help them solve their problems or meet their goals. To help them believe, you must first trust yourself wholeheartedly. Without your belief, your confidence will be nothing but a fragile shell. To reinforce this, focus on the value you bring to the table or a success story you’ve had prior to your presentation.
  2. Assume equal status
    Even the actor with the fewest number of lines must see her role as integral to the entire production. As a salesperson you too have a potential role in your prospect’s business, so step up and accept it with pride. Don’t apologize for taking up their time or excessively thank them. Being overly deferential gives an undeserved perception of lower status. Be courteous and respectful at a level appropriate for a respected peer or trusted advisor.
  3. Know your lines
    Every actor has the nightmare of being on stage and forgetting their lines. And every good actor knows the anecdote: Practice and continue to practice until you have your lines down cold.  As a salesperson you have more flexibility in what you say and when, however don’t use that as an excuse to under-prepare or wing it. Rehearsing until you have your presentation down pat – whether you use it all or not – gives you a much needed boost in confidence and allows you to go “off-script” without panicking.  
  4. Prepare your instrument
    Take a cue from professional actors who know their voice and body transfer as much information to their audience as their lines, especially in those first few moments. Actors wouldn’t dream of going on stage without first warming up – and neither should you. Doing a few vocal and physical drills before your presentation will give you confidence when you’re in front of prospects. Download a free power warm-up under Tools here.
  5. Act as if
    Just like you, sometimes actors simply don’t feel confident – despite all of their rehearsing. “Acting as if” is a powerful acting technique you can use for those times when you’re not feeling it (i.e., large audiences, tricky prospects, rough morning, etc.) “Acting 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 uncomfortable. Maintain those confident behaviors in your presentation. Very soon you will likely find that you have slipped into an actual confident state.

Don’t let confidence elude you during your presentation. Use these five acting techniques to deliver a presentation that reassures your prospect they are making the right decision!

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Julie Hansen

Julie Hansen, author of Sales Presentations for Dummies, helps sales and business executives craft and deliver winning presentations and demos by applying today’s best practices from business, acting, improv, and storytelling. Julie’s techniques for leveraging proven performance skills in presentations have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM and Oracle, as well as local Colorado companies. Learn more about sales workshops and keynotes at  PerformanceSalesandTraining.com, start a sales conversation at Julie@actingforsales.com  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

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