Funny how the difference between success and failure often comes down to as simple a thing as confidence

Mental strength, resilience, self belief and the ability to present oneself powerfully and persuasively have all been shown as the ultimate keys to getting to the top by sources as varied as Muhammad Ali and the Harvard Business School.

So what exactly is confidence?
Do you have it? If you do would you like even more? And if not, is there anything you can do to get it? Here at the Confident Club we have all the answers to these questions and more.

Check out our calendar for up coming Presentation Mastery Workshops both in Leeds, London and Boston USA.

For further information, enquire about our overseas events, or to book your place call +44 (0)113 3372037, +44 (0) 07780 977438 or email:

Brits fear making presentations more than dying

It seems the UK is a nation of shrinking violets as almost one in two Brits claim to be more scared of speaking in public or making presentations then they are of death.

In comparison, one in four claimed they were scared of dying (28%) and spiders (24%) and one in three (34%) scared of heights. Whilst only one in six (16%) claimed that the idea of losing their job was a cause of fear, one in twenty British adults (4%) still claim to be afraid of the dark.

The research, conducted on behalf of interactive technology distributor, Promethean AV Distribution, and presentation coaching leaders, The Confident Club, has found that despite almost half of the UK’s adult population (48%) making presentations to large audiences or speaking in public as part of their working life, 42% consider it to be one of their biggest fears.

Commenting on the findings, Steve McDermott, international business speaker and presentation coach, said that he was not surprised to hear that making presentations was one of the UK’s biggest fears despite so many respondents claiming to do so as part of their job.

Mr McDermott said: “The majority of people tend to panic when faced with the prospect of making a presentation to a large audience. Many over-rely on presentation software, archaic equipment and bullet point slides and fail to engage with their audience. This makes it much harder to retain their attention and ensure they are taking in the information you want them to. The problem stems from people believing they have to be perfect. No one is perfect and giving yourself permission to not be perfect, even embracing the mistakes you make, is part of understanding what makes a good presentation.”

“Our research also showed that one in three Brits (34%) believe they will significantly improve their career prospects by improving their presentation technique. This is something we believe is easily done with the right coaching and intelligent use of presentations technology.”

The research was conducted in February 2005 by YouGov using a UK representative sample of 2,000 adults.


 Top UK fears: Percentage (%) of UK public to list in their top three fears:
Speaking in public 42
Heights 34
Death 28
Spiders 24
Confined spaces 21
Unemployment 16
Flying 8
The dark 4
Parenthood 4
None of these 11


Brits fear making presentations more than dying

It seems the UK is a nation of shrinking violets as almost one in two Brits claim to be more scared of speaking in public or making presentations then they are of death.

  • In comparison, one in four claimed they were scared of dying (28%) and spiders (24%).
  • One in three (34%) scared of heights.
  • Only one in six (16%) claimed that the idea of losing their job was a cause of fear.
  • One in twenty British adults (4%) still claim to be afraid of the dark.
  • One in two UK adults (48%) make presentations as part of their working life.
  • One in three (34%) believe honing their presentation skills would enhance their career prospects.

The research was conducted in February 2005 by YouGov using a UK representative sample of 2,000 adults on behalf of Promethean AV Distribution, a leading distributor of interactive presentation solutions, and presentation coaching leaders, The Confident Club.

Lessons from Russia

“If you can impress the Russians then you have indeed succeeded. They have a very different life experience compared to Western Europeans and do not like to show emotion”

This is what Liz Kirkwood the American CFO of Metro Cash & Carry (Russia) told me whilst giving me a briefing over the phone before our trip to Russia

We have worked with loads of different nationalities in Boston, Berlin, Brussels and Barcelona but Moscow that was a very different challenge

Metro Cash & Carry (Russia) was going to be quite an experience so we approached it as we would if we were going to deliver a presentation

So lesson 1:

Research (know your audience)

This is a big company employing 120,000 people with over 700 stores in 29 countries. And I had never heard of them! Metro Cash & Carry (brands are METRO & MAKRO) are based in Düsseldorf and international expansion is an essential element of their corporate strategy, particularly in emerging markets including Russia

Metro Cash & Carry (Russia) is based in Moscow and employs over 28,000 people

WOW that was a great start but what now? We needed to find out more

One thing I did find out is that Russians love filling in bits of paper………you have no idea how long it took to get the visas(top tip…employ and agency to do that)

So BIG picture we found out that although most Russians love a good story (and you know how much we love a good storyteller) culturally if a person is in a superior position, “The Boss”, this is something they would not do as in their view of the world this shows weakness.

They are very authoritarian and greatly respect authority

How were we going to get them to open up?

On the workshop we were going to have the multinational Board of Directors including American, French, Dutch, Russian and Ukrainian.

Lesson 2

Give them a good reason why

This group needed to engage with both a multinational audience of bankers/ investors and their Russian colleagues who were mainly store managers

So one thing they were happy to do was to talk about was to tell the story of Metro Cash and Carry….. so a good start. They could use their personal experiences of Metro and talk about that

We took along a few good props including a Russian doll (you need to look inside to find out what is in there) and a book of Russian Fairy Tales to use as a metaphor.

Liz their CFO recognised that to get better engagement they needed to develop an emotional sell and develop trust. To hit the right emotional level and to get into the minds of their audience in order to connect with them

So I got on the phone and spoke to them all in advance. This worked well as I could both encourage them and deal with many challenges up front

Lesson 3

Don’t mind read or make assumptions

We arrived at the airport to be greeted by Mikail our driver for our visit. He grunted at us and set off into the freezing cold night lighting a cigarette as he went. It was December, minus 15 and there were great lumps of frozen snow everywhere. Steve and I both had heavy suitcases (mainly full of camera equipment and props) and Mikail did not offer to help in any way. We struggled along behind him.

Mikail was like this for 2 days. He did not smile or interact. I am a very friendly person who likes to talk to people and always smiles a greeting. This did not go down well in Moscow most people looked at me as if I had gone mad.

So I decided to learn (phonetically) some Russian phrases. I tried them out first on Mikail!

The results were remarkable. It turned out that he spoke pretty good English and my alarming attempts at Russian literally broke the ice. A lot of Russians believe that you have to meet a person a number of times to develop a level of trust and until then… do not even smile.

Mikail turned out to be a good guy who was warm and friendly once we got to know him. So don’t always make judgements based on first impressions

Lesson 4

Develop flexibility and thinking on your feet

So back to the Board of Directors

Business in Russia is still very hierarchical so the Board had a private dining room just like the good old days in the UK

On the morning of day 2 of the workshop they announced that not only were we having a 2 hour lunch we would also be tasting some new wines they were introducing into their stores

Very nice you may think but a challenge when we usually take 40 minutes and drink tea

It would have been rude not to and we did enjoy it

The result we dropped some stuff that was important but not crucial and they never knew

(One of the things we talk about on the workshop is that unless you tell people you have missed some stuff, they will never know)

Lesson 5

It’s important to understand a person’s view (beliefs) of the world

Where to start with Tatiana???

I would like you to imagine what you may perceive to be a “typical” Russian older woman.

Think of the Bond film From Russia With Love

Matching (real) fur hat, coat, gloves and boots, very glamorous with a gorgeous Russian accent

That was Tatiana our tour guide who greeted us in the foyer of the hotel on our last day

We had decided on the advice of our American CFO to hire a private guide…. A very good move

We got to do things in a day that would have taken us ages to figure out. Starting with the amazing metro and visits to Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral (the one with the amazing spires) and The Kremlin (where we saw the mind boggling famous Faberge eggs).

Red Square was a surprise mainly because there was a Walt Disney themed ice skating rink in the middle and loads of gorgeous Christmas trees

Tatiana was also a surprise. Very well educated and had travelled to Spain. She spoke fluent Spanish and English and had been a tour guide for many years so had met a lot of foreigners.

She had been educated for free by the communist regime and regretted the fall of communism and the Berlin wall

Here are some of her beliefs:

She spent most of the day talking to Steve and ignoring me. She had spent most of her life in a patriarchal society

Over a stop for coffee she thumped the table and announced that everyone knows that Obama is a Muslim

She nearly worships Putin and loves his exhibitions of strength (appearing bare chested or horse riding) “Good men are strong”. Please try to imagine that said with emphasis and a strong Russian accent

Although she is Ukrainian she supports the Russian treatment of the Ukraine

She was great. We had a fantastic day although we held virtually opposing views/ beliefs about the world….. so…. who was right?

It doesn’t really matter so long as you get it that what you believe to be true affects how you behave

Our favourite saying from Tatiana “When a Cossack gets back home he feeds his horse before he kisses his wife”. I think that sums it up!

Why not join our next open workshop in Leeds on 13th & 14th July ?