Confidence is important for a number of reasons, but here are two that really stand out: a) confidence helps you believe in yourself and b) confidence helps others believe in you. As a businesswoman—particularly an entrepreneur—those two reasons are critical to success. Yet I find that among the many wonderful and talented women I meet, many tell me that they lack confidence even though they appear quite confident from afar. That got me to thinking, how can you increase confidence in yourself and also how confident others see you?
Here are some ways to cultivate inward and outward confidence.
- Fake it ‘till you make it. A wonderful coach I know, Rick Tamlyn, has a motto, “It’s all made up.” He is so right on the mark about this concept and it applies perfectly to increasing your confidence. If you think about it, all things in our life are made up, created by us. So when someone says that they aren’t as confident as they appear, they are faking it. When you pretend that you are fabulous at what you are doing and pretend to believe in yourself, that begins a spiral of confidence. The more you show your confidence, the more others see you as confident which in turns makes you feel more confident.
- Smile and look directly at the camera. There may not be an actually camera, but if you practice smiling and looking directly at your audience—even if that audience is just one person—you will increase both your appearance of confidence and your actual confidence. Smiling has been found to have a calming and positive impact on yourself and others. Try it right now. Put a big smile on your face and feel the happy emotions arise. That positive vibe conveys confidence to others while it makes you feel good and might even calm you.
- Stand up straight! Ever wonder why your mother or grandmother told you to stand up straight all the time? It turns out that your posture does indeed impact how others view you. And standing or sitting upright also impacts how you view yourself. Even if you are talking on the phone, try sitting up straight and you will be amazed at how much more confident you feel. Do you notice the trend in what I am saying? What you do to increase inward confidence also impacts outward confidence—and vice versa.
- Speak clear and loud (enough). There is nothing that says wallflower more than someone who mumbles. It is almost like they are trying to fade into the background and that is exactly what happens. If, instead, you speak clearly and at a good volume (not too loud) you will be heard and seen as confident.
- Think before speaking—but do speak. How fast you think on your feet tends to be an inborn trait. Some people have an introverted thinking style and tend to think a fair amount before they speak. Others who have an extroverted thinking style are quick to speak their thoughts. The key to mastering confidence is to have a balance between gathering clear thoughts before speaking and not waiting too long to speak. If you are quick to speak, practice slowing down to gain clarity on what you want to say. If you are slow to speak, practice speaking sooner than you might normally do so that you don’t get left out of the conversation.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Having confidence may or may not come easily to you. What I know about anything that you want to change in your behavior, it takes time and practice. Practice all of the above techniques, and then practice some more until they become more natural to you.
You might have noticed that so much of what makes you confident really stems from #1. If your fake your confidence by changing your behavior to smile, speak clearly, stand up straight, etc., you are creating a path to confidence. And remember that there will probably be times in the future when you still have self-doubt. Don’t beat yourself up—instead allow that as with everything else in life, there are cycles of experience and emotion. Trust in yourself and know that you are a remarkable and competent person and your confidence will grow.