How to Sound Confident (Even When You're Not)

How to Sound Confident (Even When You’re Not)

What if you could feel more confident and composed in two minutes? I have a fast routine that is an instant confidence boost. I’ve been a power pose proponent since watching Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk. Power poses have been proven to chemically alter your body and raise your confidence. I’ve done The Wonder Woman pose before every interview or big meeting. I always arrive a few minutes early and duck into the bathroom to check my makeup and do a quick power pose. Yes, it may look silly to stand with my arms above my head like I just completed a complicated gymnastics routine at the Olympics, but it works. I leave the bathroom feeling more confident and ready to make a good impression. As Cuddy says, “Don’t fake it till you make it.Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.” I spoke to successful women to find out their top tips for sounding confident.

How to Sound Confident (Even When You're Not)

Know your goal.

Decide what you want to achieve as a result of the conversation or presentation. “When you want to make an argument or validate an opinion, my trick to sounding confident, even if it’s an intimidating room, is to always speak in three’s. Create three short bullets to emphasize your point and don’t talk in circles getting there,” says Eileen Carey, the CEO of Glassbreakers.

Practice out loud.

Lisa Arbetter the editor in chief of StyleWatch, agrees that preparation is key, and recommends rehearsing out loud, rather than silently. “Rehearsing out loud helps me find phrases I may stumble over and also gives me a better sense of timing. Plus, because I’ve heard myself saying the words, I feel more relaxed,” she notes.

Speak clearly.

Use an authoritative voice, speak slowly, and remove filler words and qualifiers. As Christi Cannon, senior vice president of marketing and development at Garden City Group says, “When you feel uncertain, it can be almost a compulsion to give yourself an out by qualifying your statements with an ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I think’ or ‘in my experience.’ You’re smart, you’re prepared, and you are there precisely to talk about your experience. Present your material with conviction and make no apologies for it!”

Pay attention to your body language.

Show that you are confident and poised by maintaining good posture. A few tips: Maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and take up space. Instead of letting your shoulders cave in, squeezing your arms tight to your body, or crossing your arms, keep them relaxed to your sides or on the table. You don’t want to look like you’re starting a turf war, but you should look like you feel confident in your surroundings. And your body language doesn’t just affect the way people see you—it can also change the way you feel about yourself.

Read the room.

Take cues from your audience. As Johanna Lanus, the founder and CEO of Work With Balance, explains, “Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it.” Lanus admits that the first time she pitched a potential corporate client, she spent the first minute of her presentation looking down at her prepared speech and then realized that she had completely lost her audience. She immediately turned the paper over and made eye contact with the executives. She looked more confident and became more comfortable. Unsurprisingly, the client loved the presentation and signed up for a program that day.

Be authentic.

Jennifer McCloskey and Sahili Sheth, cofounders of The Considered Collection, stress the importance of being authentic. “Authenticity is the pillar of confidence. It comes from deep within ourselves and propels us forward in spite of any momentary or situational insecurity we might feel. Being authentic acknowledges where we are in our lives, supporting and celebrating both our strengths and our weaknesses,” they say. Authenticity simultaneously makes us feel more confident and makes others perceive us as more self-assured. “This results in a positive, honest energy that others pick up on immediately. So much so that even if we feel that our confidence is lacking, being true to our authentic selves always serves to give us a sense of confidence in the eyes of others because we embrace all that we do and do not know, and choose to be open and authentic about it,” they explain.

 Take some pressure off.

“Before an intimidating conversation, I always remind myself that I will be the same person before and after the conversation, no matter the outcome,” says Olivia Fay, the founder and creative director of Rallier. “It’s important to create space between how people react to you and who you know you are. That space can relieve a bit of pressure that innately creates more self-confidence.”

Confidence is a crucial component of personal and professional success. Remember these tips next time you are in need of a jolt of self-confidence.

I originally wrote this post for my Forbes column. Image via Style Me Pretty.

P.S.  Now I really want to read Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.

23 Responses to How to Sound Confident (Even When You’re Not)

  1. Mckenna Bleu says:

    Love these tips! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. These are such great tips! I’m a terrible public speaker and I wish I could go through life without every talking to a group of more than 30 people but sadly, I can’t. Hopefully these tips will help me not sound super nervous! Great post! xx

  3. Ruya says:

    Great tips! I’m terrible at public speaking but I could definitely see myself improving by using these tips. Thanks for sharing!

  4. These are awesome tips! It’s not easy to ace public speaking, so these definitely help.

  5. Greta says:

    Great tips! Will definitely have to work on some of these.

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  6. Annaliese says:

    Speaking out loud to verbalize your goals can definitely be a great motivator!! Great tips.

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  7. Sara Kate says:

    Any time I am about to be in a situation where I need to present an idea or know I will be questioned about an idea that is literally all I do… Practice out loud. That way when the time comes, I’m not tripping over my words.

    xo,
    Sara Kate Styling

  8. Ashley says:

    These are fabulous tips!! I will definitely be using these!

    xo Ashley

  9. Sarah says:

    This is such an important skill to learn! I earned so many awards in college for my public speaking, and personally never thought I was that amazing. But I always had a smile on my face and was confident in what I said.

  10. Michaela says:

    awesome advice. I think we all could use a little more confidence.

  11. Audrey Stowe says:

    I needed this read! It depends on the environment and situation that decides whether or not I’m super confident.

  12. Remembering that you will be the same person you were before the conversation no matter what the outcome is is a fantastic tip! Not letting other people define your self-worth is a big one. Thanks for sharing!

    xo,
    Michelle
    http://www.landofstyleandsass.blogspot.com

  13. Amanda says:

    Great tips, love this post!

    -Amanda

  14. Kristin says:

    These are such great tips!

    Kristin
    The Blush Blonde

  15. When I became a tour guide at Disneyland they taught us all about power poses. I think confidence is so important.

  16. Kayleigh says:

    I’m definitely using this in my interviews this week! Such great advice!
    http://www.kayleighskloset.com

  17. Shane says:

    I have trouble with crossing my arms or playing with my nails which I now know conveys into insecurity. Solid tips!

  18. Sami says:

    These are such great tips, I definitely think reading the room is #1! It depends who you’re talking to and how to reach them to really make that impression!

    xo
    Sami
    http://www.theclassicbrunette.com

  19. Good advice’s! Practice speaking out Loud and smiling at home just before the interview is the best way to prepare yourself to sound confident and you’ll be able to give the best responses.

  20. Fake it till you make it! These tips are great!

    -Meagan | Love by Meagan

  21. WOW! This is such a helpful post, Elana! Thank you. Working in a male dominated field can leave me feeling very defeated and unsure at times. I will definitely be utilizing these tips.

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

  22. I love these tips! Sometimes you just need to fake it til you make it!

  23. Lauren Ray says:

    One of the best ways to fool a hiring manager into thinking you are more confident than you feel is to keep steady, natural eye contact throughout the interview.

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