Imposter syndrome: are you faking it? - The Pickering Group

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Imposter syndrome: are you faking it?

Are You Faking It?
Imposter syndrome: a lurking doubt in your achievements and abilities. What if you’re actually not competent and no one’s noticed yet? Surely the truth will eventually come out.  You’ll be humiliated, but ultimately relieved that you can stop this insane charade and take up an enticing new pastime, like rocking gently in a corner.  Here’s the thing: you’re probably fine, and you deserve to feel fine about it.  Let’s work through this.
Why tho
There are many reasons we feel like imposters.

  1.  Measuring ourselves against the constantly shifting benchmarks of adult life can be difficult. Once we leave the education system there are no more official yearly certificates to confirm what level we’ve reached. Achievement becomes an ongoing continuum of ups and downs that’s harder to slide into a CV clearfile pocket.


  1. You may have decided to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, and you’re not sure what counts as making it. How do you know when you’ve stopped faking?  What if faking is all there is now? Your Instagram cheekbones and your job: none of it’s real!  


  1. We see the odd imposter around us. That’s the trouble with confidence: it’s often mistaken for competence.  We will encounter people that do fake it, going into presentations underprepared, failing to collaborate usefully on shared projects, generally cluttering up the place. It happens. That doesn’t make you an imposter; in fact, if you can perceive someone else being one, you’re probably not one.

You Know This
One of the things we remind our presentation training clients is this: generally, you’re the person in the room with the most knowledge and the most useful insights about the topic you’re presenting on. You’re literally the expert for this session, and the people in the room are there to find out what it is you know.  Your authority comes not from embodying some idea of what a ‘genuine’ expert looks like, but from your understanding of the material and your ability to clearly and concisely communicate it to your audience.
Get Real
The opposite of an imposter is the genuine article. Authenticity: it’s a word thrown around a lot, and sometimes it’s hard to identify what it means in terms of how you communicate at work.  There are things about our authentic selves that aren’t all that useful in a presentation situation: we don’t recommend describing the quantity of your nerve sweat or wearing your activewear to the big pitch or cracking the wine before you begin (unless you’re presenting a wine tasting, in which case, the Shiraz thanks). We do recommend the following:

  1. Bringing your diligent preparation, your focus on the topic, and your integrity. Commit to the task at hand, and be as ready as you can.


  1. When you speak, get off-script; speak conversationally, in your own words, to the talking points you want to hit.  Practice fielding likely questions – the Q&A is often where your natural voice and genuine expertise gets to shine.


  1. Remember you were asked to present for a reason. Other people have confidence in you. Are they wrong? Prove them right, and prove it to yourself at the same time.

Yours, Sincerely
At The Pickering Group, we can help you find your authentic voice, at its strongest and most effective. We love to see our clients gain confidence in their abilities and authority in their presenting. We all bring something different to the boardroom table, and those are our strengths, not our weaknesses.  So let’s get real.  Check out our training courses here, our many and varied advice articles here.

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