Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

Comfort vs. Competence

Posted by Presentation Skills on November 23, 2009

Many people say that they are comfortable when speaking to groups. Unfortunately comfort rarely equals competence.

What they mean by saying they are comfortable is that they do not feel nervous when standing in front of a group. This is not usually a good thing. Elton John once told Andrew Denton that he is always nervous before his concerts. He is not alone in performers who feel this way.

Being comfortable has nothing to do with how effective your presentation will be. Effective presentations are about connecting with your audience and having them adopt your message. They are not about you feeling comfortable.

Feel the energy that the opportunity to present gives you. Don’t call it nervousness; call it excitement!

As always, your thoughts on this are appreciated.

2 Responses to “Comfort vs. Competence”

  1. I am not sure, you have to be nervous in order to be competent, one can not see all black or white, there are many grey regions.

    Connect with the audience is very important and often they do energize me, as yesterday telling a real tale of a part of my grand grand mother’s life linked with a Hungarian folk tale modified a bit by me. Yes, my heart was a bit going faster, because it was the first time I told this together, and also there were so great tellers before me, but “competence” what is it?

    You do not tell more about it, here.

    The audience liked it, thanked me also, told me that the two together made them more “outstanding, strong”. Is that “competence”? Should I have had more “fear”?

  2. HI Julie,

    No you don’t have to feel nervous to give a good talk. You just have to feel the energy. Most people then call this energy nervousness.

    If you don’e feel the energy, you will miss your chance to connect.

    Well done with the story about your grandmother. It’s your energy that you had with your heart going faster that you needed to make your talk what it was.



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