Communicate with confidence: There’s the mental preparation, then there’s confidence in the moment.  In this first of a two-part series, we focus on the 4P’s of mentally preparing to communicate with confidence: Practice, as in rehearsing; Proverb, as in adopting a mantra; Pep talk; and Pirate, as in copying that confident feeling.


Printable SHOWNOTES:


  • SUMMARY – Communicate with Confidence: The 4Ps of Mental Preparation


Communicate with Confidence:

Mental Preparation & the 4Ps

(1) Practice

  • Rehearse. Practice makes perfect.
  • Know you magic number, the number of times you need to rehearse your speech before you can nail it!

(2) Proverb

  • Focus your thoughts with a mantra. Memorize a short sentence that you can write, think and say to yourself when you need it.  
  • Internalize your mantra by reading it, thinking it and saying it. Memorize and remind yourself of your mantra by posting it on your screen saver, at the top of your TO DO list, on your bulletin board, and on a piece of paper in your wallet.

(3) Pep Talk

  • Certainly a pep talk will increase your confidence. You’ll also learn how to make your communication more effective.
  • People are usually honored to be asked to give you a pep talk!

(4) Pirate

  • Emulate someone who exudes confidence. Copy their confidence.
  • Channel how you felt when you succeeded in the past. Copy that confident feeling!


Hey there – I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!) Welcome to Talk About Talk.


I have a Q for you: are you a life-long learner, always looking for research-based self-improvement advice?

Or maybe you’re in a rut, trying to get noticed and advance your career.  Well, in either case, or maybe both cases, I’m here to help you out.


Talk About Talk is a learning platform – an online resource where you’ll learn how to boost your communication skills.

We talk about things like Networking, Storytelling, Body language and – how to communicate with confidence!


And here’s the thing: Talk About Talk makes it so easy for you to become a skilled communicator. If you go to the Talk About Talk website, you’ll see a variety of resources, including FREE weekly communication coaching through the newsletter, academic and white papers, one-on-one coaching, online courses, and, of course, an archive of well over 50 podcasts. And I update the website with new resources every single week.


This is the first of two episodes where we’re tackling the topic that I’m asked about more than any other: How to communicate with confidence. Of course it’s important. According to FastCompany, communication skills are VITAL. And Sir Richard Branson says that communication skills are the most important skills any leader can possess. But they don’t teach us how to communicate with confidence in school, do they?


Recently I was asked to give a talk to a group of professionals about something related to communication. So I emailed them a few options of specific topics I could cover.  Guess which topic they chose?  HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH CONFIDENCE.


I get why this topic is so salient for people. Confident people are trusted, admired, listened to, promoted, and more likely to become leaders.  We all want to be trusted, admired, listened to, and promoted, right? Yet confidence can be a big challenge, to say the least.


The good news is that confidence can be learned. In these two episodes, you’ll learn two things at a meta level.  You’ll learn what to do to help you in advance of a big event – say a presentation you’re giving or a big meeting you’re leading – be it online, a Zoom meeting, or IRL.  Or maybe it’s a job interview.  That’s what we’re covering in this episode – the 4P’s or Preparing for a big event. Preparing to Communicate with Confidence.


In the next episode, you’ll learn a powerful formula to help you IN THE MOMENT.  It could be in the moment at the big event, when you’re onstage or, say, in a big meeting.  But it could also be IN THE MOMENT in any situation, however trivial, when you feel that shot of adrenaline and you suddenly feel self-conscious.  You need a confidence boost.  That’s what we’ll cover in the second episode.


The combination of these two episodes will be your secret weapon when it comes to how to communicate with confidence.  This stuff can become second nature to you. And it can propel you and your career! You won’t be thinking about your nervousness anymore.  Instead, you’ll be focused on the message you’re trying to communicate. Can you even imagine?


Whenever I think about my own CONFIDENCE, I vividly recall being a keen young brand manager at Kraft Canada. I was excited _ and horrified _ to have the opportunity to formally present my brand plan at the annual national sales meeting. When I got behind the podium, my throat dried up and my body temperature spiked. I started sweating and shaking.


Have you ever felt any of these symptoms?  When I got off stage, my boss grabbed me and said, “Are you ok? Your face is as red as your hair!”  What a disaster. 


Fast-forward to today: I can tell you HONESTLY, I love presenting! Be it public speaking, teaching, or, – yes, podcasting!


I attribute this transformation to two things.  You can probably guess the first. PRACTICE.  Lots and lots of practice.  I never declined an opportunity to get back up onstage.  The second thing? Well, my insatiable desire to learn.  I catalogued many valuable tips and tactics that have helped me now ENJOY presenting. These are the other things we’ll focus on in this episode and the next episode.


So here’s the thing – If you do have a big presentation or event coming up that you feel nervous about, you should remind yourself that most people feel nervous about these important opportunities.  And in fact, nervous energy can enhance your performance. You’ve probably heard this before, right? 


Mark Twain has a saying: There are only two types of speakers in the world: the nervous and the liars. 


Well, it’s true.  You’re not so special. Everyone feels nervous!


But nerves can be debilitating, right?  So here are my four suggestions for what you can do in preparation, in advance of this big event.  I labelled these 4 suggestions as 4P’s, to make them easier for you to memorize. Are you ready?


The 4 Ps are:

  1. Practice: as in rehearse
  2. Proverb: as in adopt a mantra
  3. Pep Talk: as in talking it through with a trusted colleague
  4. Pirate: as in copying that confident feeling




As in Rehearse.  Practice practice practice. Yes, it’s a cliché, but practice really does make perfect.

  • If you’re giving a speech or making a sales pitch, rehearse!.
  • If you’re going to an important networking event, remind yourself in advance of who might be there, what you hope to learn, and other relevant details in attendance.
  • Presenters who excel practice their speeches over and over again until they nail it – sometimes in front of people, but more often behind closed doors in an otherwise empty room. When I was a doctoral student, I used to stand up in my office, and practice my academic presentations towards a blank wall.
  • Athletes who excel practice their sport until muscle memory kicks in


My friend Stephanie Rudnick learned the importance of practice as a young basketball player. She ended up playing university basketball, then she founded EliteCamps, Canada’s biggest basketball training camp.  She’s also an author and speaker. When I interviewed Stephanie speaker for a Talk About Talk podcast episode on coaching,, she talked about how we all have a magic number; the number of times we have to practice a speech to nail it.  Stephanie said hers is 9. She runs through her speeches NINE TIMES before she feels ready to present.

  • Mine is 4-5. What’s your magic number?
  • Your magic number might go down over times – as you practice practicing. But even the most seasoned presenters practice.



PROVERB: Adopt a Mantra

This is a simple but powerful technique to focus your thoughts. Memorize a short sentence that you can think and say to yourself when you need it. 


In podcast episode #22, I interviewed tenured business professor and part-time stand-up comedian Hillary Anger Elfenbein about how to be funny.  She shared with me her mantra.  What does she say to herself when she walks out onstage? “I own this room”.  I can just imagine her taking adep breath and whispering: “I own this room.”


Another friend of mine, a podcaster who’s also an ER nurse – one of those amazing people who hops on helicopters to save lives with critical care transport teams – she also shared her mantra with me.  “Lock & load”.  That’s what she says when she feels that adrenaline pumping.  Lock & load. Phew!


For centuries, Hindus and Buddhists have used mantras (repeated words or sounds) to help them focus in meditation. The idea of repeating a statement verbally and in our minds to focus our thoughts makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?  It’s like formalizing self-talk.


So think about a short and inspiring sentence to focus your thoughts.


Once you have your mantra, it helps to internalize it by going “multi-media:” As in internalize it 3 ways:

  • say it in your mind – to yourself;
  • say it out loud;
  • print it and read it
  • you’re more likely to internalize it if you think it, say it and read it.


A few suggestions for memorizing and reminding yourself of your mantra?

  • You can make the mantra your screen saver,
  • you can type the mantra at the top of your TO DO list,
  • you can post the mantra on your bulletin board, and
  • you can print the mantra & put it in your wallet.




There are two main reasons to get a pep talk:

  • It will increase your confidence
  • You will likely learn something to make your communication effective.


If you have a life coach or an executive coach that you work with regularly, then you probably benefit from pep talks like this all the time.  If you’re like the rest of us though, you will have to seek someone out. It could be your partner, a friend, or perhaps a trusted co-worker.


Yes, it’s an imposition, but in my experience, people are usually honored to be asked.

I did exactly this several months ago. I was invited to go on-stage with some improv actors. As you can probably imagine, I was really nervous!  The day of the event, I scheduled a “pep talk” with my friend Angie who also happens to be an executive coach. She successfully calmed my nerves and gave me some great advice! Thank you, Angie!


PIRATE: Copy that Confident Feeling

I first learned about this concept of “borrowing some confidence from your past” from my podcasting friend David Nebinski and Darrah Brustein


Have you ever heard the saying “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”? That’s the idea here. You’re COPYING yourself.


You can copy confidence not just from your past, but I would add that you can copy confidence in others too.  Copy the confidence you see in someone you admire, some who exudes confidence.

Think about your favourite performer onstage, rocking it.  Imagine yourself feeling that confident, then emulate it.


As a young faculty member years ago I was asked to give a marketing lecture in the biggest auditorium at the university.  I was used to the MBA classroom with 70-80 students.  This was significantly bigger – like hundreds. I couldn’t even see the back of the auditorium.  There was a spotlight on me onstage and I was miked-up – yes, like a rock star.  So I copied some confidence. This is embarrassing, but I channeled Madonna.  In my mind I pictured Madonna onstage at a concert, and I emulated her. No, I didn’t sing or dance, but I definitely felt her confidence.


Nowadays when I have a big presentation, I emulate the confidence I felt during that experience.  I remember how it felt, and that gives me confidence that I can do it again.


So do you remember that time YOU rocked it? When you gave that presentation that felt so great and then you received so many compliments?  Do you remember that feeling?  Well, channel that feeling!


Go ahead – think hard about a success you had. The compliments you received.  Copy that confidence from the past and make it a reality once more. If you channel what you did and how you felt the last time you “rocked it,” then it seems likely that you’ll be able to replicate that experience.



Alright that’s it for the 4 things to do to help you prepare for a significant event – be it a presentation, a job interview, whatever.


I hope you find this 4P’s framework helpful. Remember I said I labeled them as 4Ps to make it easier to memorize.  DO you remember the 4P’s?


 The first one is easy: Practice.  The 4Ps are (read through list twice)

  1. Practice: as in rehearse
  2. Proverb: as in adopt a mantra
  3. Pep Talk: as in talking it through with a trusted colleague
  4. Pirate: as in copying that confident feeling


If you go to you’ll find a printable summary page that summarizes these 4P’s of Preparing to Communicate with confidence. Just go to the Podcast tab and click on SHOWNOTES.


I’m really excited about the next episode, part 2 on How to communicate with confidence, when you’ll learn the 5 steps to run through when you feel that shot of adrenaline – in the moment. This is a 5 steps formula that I’ve used many times myself and that I’ve coached others through too – and I promise this will feel like a secret weapon for you.


Speaking of secret weapons, are you signed-up for the Talk About Talk newsletter? If not, you’re really missing out.  I share lots of communication coaching tips in this newsletter.  It’s free.  And it’s just once a week, never more.  No spam.  Just go to the website or email me directly and I’ll add you to the list.


As always, I’d love to hear what you think about this episode, any ideas you have for future episodes, or anything else. You can email me anytime at


THANKS for listening – and READING!




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