On October 7, 1984, Ronald Reagan obliterated the main opposition to his presidency. Rumors had been circulating that he was too old for the job, and that he was getting Alzheimer’s.
During a debate with his opponent, Walter Mondale, he quipped “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience”.
With one simple joke, he turned the main argument against him into an argument for him.
But you don’t even have to be witty, or Ronald Reagan, to pull off what he did. He just acted like he was winning.
If done correctly, it gives you the mindset that will cause real confidence to emerge, and the body language will come naturally to you.
Spend some time right now thinking about what a winning speaker looks like. I’ll provide some of my own ideas, and you can compare lists with mine. (By winning, I mean a speaker who is doing a great job in their speech. If you’re speaking for a competition, the word winning applies even better).
- Good, tall posture and confident body language
- No notes or just a small notecard tucked out of sight, doesn’t need it in order to remember what to say
- Uses big hand motions if needed, not afraid of making an impact
- Voice betrays that he/she absolutely believes in their position
- Persuasion is polite but firm (especially if discussing a controversial topic)
- Doesn’t bother with nit-picky details, looks at the big picture
- Confident smiles, occasionally bordering on smirks (without looking arrogant)
- Isn’t pushed around by audience questions or other speakers (specifically with controversial topics)
- Is able to transition from humor to serious topics in the snap of a finger
- Well dressed, hair well groomed
- If you were to watch a video of the speaker with the sound off, you’d be curious what they are talking about because they look so passionate
Now, here’s the important part: you don’t necessarily have to consciously think about doing all of these things while you’re speaking.
If you can picture what I just described in your head, you should be able to turn on your “inner winner” switch, and automatically implement several of those tips.
Of course, if you practice all the tips I provide on this website one by one before speaking, you’ll be a lot better at looking like you’re winning. But this one idea, trying to emulate what a “winner” looks like, can help you to get in the right mindset.
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