Confidence comes and goes for all of us and as with leadership skills and public speaking skills we are not necessarily born with it. The most confident people around us are the ones who hold their heads up high, whose body language is open and relaxed, who speak with clarity and fluidity combining the 3 Vs – Vocal, Verbal, Visual. Confidence or appearing confident is in what you do and how you do it.
Tips to improving your confidence
1. Take small steps outside your comfort zone
If you can regularly step outside your comfort zone your confidence will expand incrementally. If you don’t challenge yourself, your comfort zone will remain the same or perhaps even shrink. Keep pushing steadily bit by bit and see how your confidence will grow. Try to do something different each day that you haven’t done before. This doesn’t have to be a major exercise and can be as seemingly minor as taking a different route to work. Doing things differently each day will help break your routines and patterns and get you used to different situations.
2. Don’t be frightened of failing
Most of us are cautious because we are born with the natural instinct to protect ourselves. Don’t be frightened of failing. It’s not failure that destroys our confidence, it’s the not getting back up. The beauty of failing is that we learn a huge amount so as to help us with our next project, phase or decision – ask most self-made entrepreneurs. The founders of multi-billion pound businesses didn’t ‘make it’ first time. They could have had 3 to 4 failed businesses before they learnt how to become successful. The more you try and fail the more likely you are to succeed. The less you do because of fear and procrastination, the less likely you are to succeed. See some of the stories of our most successful entrepreneurs.
When we are nervous and lacking in confidence we can very often forget to do the one thing that keeps us alive and will help us in the moment. BREATHE. Taking deep, slow, deliberate breaths fills the brain with oxygen which makes us more awake, more aware and more relaxed. Sounds obvious of course but look at how consciously even very experienced actors and singers work on their breath and voice before going on stage – it’s partly vocal warm up and partly relaxation and establishing a level of confidence. By taking control of your breathing you can take control of your body and in no time you will feel relaxed and everything will seem possible.
4. Do confidence
- Change your state from that of someone who isn’t feeling confident to someone who oozes confidence. Tell yourself that you are totally happy with the situation, smile inwardly at yourself and tell yourself you feel confident. Setting the scene with yourself before you go into that meeting that you are going to make it a big success and that you are going to be totally relaxed in the situation makes all the difference.
- If you are still feeling a bit nervous, all that is left is to act as if you are confident. Be willing to fake it. Stand up tall, smile broadly, shake the hand firmly and sit in a relaxed style. Speak clearly and with gravitas and you will appear confident which will result in you feeling confident.
Sartaj Garewal is the founder of Dynamic Presenting – a creative, leadership development consultancy, adapting theatre training to create leadership programs for business.
Dynamic Presenting – Enabling Powerful Communication