Many of my clients wish to appear more confident, especially in the workplace. If you don’t feel confident, there are some ways to look like you are that will help as you build the real thing. You can learn skills to appear confident when it matters the most such as when presenting, at job interviews, and events.
Be strategic in using your body language
- Did you know that nonverbal communication makes up most of our communication? Research says 60%! Make it a habit to thoughtfully use your body. First, your posture: stand up as tall as possible. Imagine there’s a string going from your feet up through your body through the top of your head and someone is pulling it – just like a marionette. Pull your shoulders down and back, lifting your chest, and raise your chin so you are looking straight ahead. My grandmother always told me to imagine I am holding a coin between the cheeks of my butt.
- Take up space around you with your body by using what Amy Cuddy suggests is a “power pose”. Researchers found that by stretching, putting your hands on your hips or dancing, you feel more confident, and you project it as well. Use the “power pose” before you go to a meeting, an interview or an event.
- Shake hands firmly when meeting someone. Using a solid handshake gives the other person a sense of your confidence. Be the one to extend your hand as you approach another person. Hold the hand for two seconds before releasing it. Never use a limp handshake.
Use your voice as an instrument that conveys your confidence
- Slow down the speed of your voice so you appear confident and relaxed. When being asked a question, don’t rush to answer but pause a second or two to plan your response.
- Research shows that a deeper voice increases others’ trust. So take your vocal pitch down a notch.
- Be careful never to use a question inflection on statements. For example, saying your name as a question, i.e. “My name is Andrea?” makes you seem as if you lack confidence. Instead, make it authoritative by going down at the end of the sentence. “My name is Andrea.”
- Use vocal dynamics and facial expressions that match your emotions. Projecting a mismatch such as smiling when you are expressing your frustration sends others a mixed message and an appearance of lacking in confidence.
Be certain to focus your attention on the needs and concerns of the other person
- Make eye contact by intentionally looking others in the eye as you speak, and as they talk. Smile. Be careful not to check your phone, scope out the rest of the room, or look away during these times.
- Keep your attention on the needs and concerns of the other person or audience. Don’t be concerned with how you are doing. Prepare and you’ll do fine.
Become aware of poor word-habits that rob the appearance of confidence
- Stop saying “I’m sorry.” Sometimes you don’t even know you’re apologizing for everything – it’s a word-habit. Become aware, and if you do notice you apologize a lot, ask close friends to help you stop.
- When someone compliments you, accept compliments gracefully by smiling and saying “thank you.” Don’t overuse your humility by putting yourself down, or downplaying your achievements.
- Watch out for turn-off phrases like “kind of,” “sort of,” “like,” and using too many “umms”.
Practice, practice, practice
- Practice your posture, voice, words, and attention during conversations with people around you. Walk down the street or hallways with a mindful awareness of yourself as a confident person. Make direct eye contact when you see others, using a smile and a concise “hi.” Ask a friend to act as your audience or the interviewer if you’re preparing for a presentation or an interview.
You may have heard the phrase, “fake it until you make it.” By behaving in ways that project confidence to others, you will feel your brain aligning with your actions and your confidence grow.