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