Most of our clients are interested in great presentation design. And we love helping them create stunning slide decks. But Ethos3 works hard to make sure the clients we serve also feel confident when it comes to presenting. That’s why, in addition to our design services, we offer presentation training and informational blogs that will help you become a more confident public speaker.

As with all our solutions, today’s advice is based on solid research in the field. It comes directly from Martin Seligman’s research on resilience. Often called the father of positive psychology, Seligman has drawn upon 3 decades of scientific research to figure out why some people are more resilient than others. And he believes this skill can be taught. We believe public speakers can use his 3 P’s to become more confident and battle presentation anxiety.

The 3 P’s

Seligman found that how people “think about adversity, stress, and challenging situations” has a lot to do with personalization, permanence, and pervasiveness. He called these the 3 P’s.

Personalization is what happens when someone unnecessarily takes all the blame.

Permanence is the mistaken belief that things will never change for the better.

Pervasiveness is the feeling that something will spread to affect all areas of life.

When presenters began to engage in these dangerous thought patterns, they grow more and more nervous about presenting. So, here’s how to reframe each of these false narratives so that you build your public speaking confidence.


Be honest about what is yours to handle and what isn’t. I’ve been learning about, practicing, and teaching public speaking for over 25 years now. But there is one time I failed big. I was hired to speak at a woman’s convention. I asked all the questions you are supposed to ask as a public speaker to gain information about the event, what is sound masking, masked noise, and privacy speakers, speaking setting, and audience. The event organizer explained that my audience would be teenage girls and their moms. So, I developed my message with them in mind. However, when I arrived, the audience was over 80% senior citizens. My message totally missed the mark.

I could have personalized the incident. Instead, I took an inventory. What was my fault? What was not? I got bad intel. And I based my message on it. That didn’t make me a bad speaker. It made me a misinformed speaker. I learned to create messages that weren’t so highly tailored to a specific group that they couldn’t be adapted on the spot. Confident speakers take realistic inventories, being honest about what went wrong/right and the ownership they have of each of those things.


In discussing the 3 P’s in her book Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown says this: “permanence can be tough for me, so I’ve developed the habit of asking myself, ‘I’m really scared, worried, overwhelmed, stressed about what’s happening. Will this issue be a big deal in five minutes? Five hours? Five days? Five months? Five years?’” If you move into a speech or presentation thinking whatever happens in the next 20 minutes could negatively change the trajectory of your life, it can be pretty scary. Plus, that’s not a rational thought. That’s why you need to put things in perspective, so you can become a more confident public speaker.

Instead of concentrating on a permanent, negative trajectory for you, the speaker, think about a permanent, positive trajectory for your audience. Any time you start to unrealistically ruminate on the possible negative consequences of your presentation, think instead of what you can offer your audience that will benefit them in the long run. And offer that up with confidence.


Pervasiveness is the mistaken belief that everything is dark and connected. It’s the opposite of viewing life through rose-colored glasses. Let me give you an example. I’m a mom of two, red-headed female teenagers. Most days, they are wonderful. Other days, they are teenagers. And for those of you who have raised teenagers, you’ll know that there are few things harder on your self-esteem. If I carried those personal struggles on rough days into my professional life, it would be difficult to teach and lead with confidence in the workplace.

The antidote to pervasiveness is compartmentalization. It’s remembering that all of us wear many “hats.” And just because one thing isn’t going well—be it a burned dinner, a disagreement with a loved one, or a bad presentation—it doesn’t mean all is lost. We are all human. If you have an “off day” in one area, see it as contained. Address it. Resolve it. And then get back to being confident in who you are the majority of the time.

Negative thought patterns of personalization, permanence, and pervasiveness can keep you from becoming a confident public speaker. But now that you are aware of them, you are on your way to winning the battle and presenting with confidence.

Want to learn more about how a presentation design agency can help you from design to delivery?

The post How to Be a More Confident Public Speaker appeared first on Ethos3 – A Presentation Training and Design Agency.

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