For you to leave a good impression, to be taken seriously, to be heard, confidence is a must. I mean, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? For some–the lucky bunch, confidence comes naturally.
For most, however, it’s harder to achieve, especially in public situations with fellow stranger earthlings.
Hey, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. See, here’s the thing about confidence (and remember this): most times, it doesn’t really matter if you feel confident on the inside–it’s quite normal to be nervous in an unfamiliar situation around (potentially) judgmental people. Don’t beat yourself up.
What you should actually focus on is if you come off confident on the outside. The mission is to appear confident, even if you really aren’t. That way, until you tighten your laces, your first impression is a strong one. Here are some practical tips to get started.
Come Off Confident, Even If You’re Really Not
Stand Tall & Postured
The way you carry yourself says a lot about you before you even open your mouth. Let people know that you’re not afraid to take up space by standing tall. Keep those shoulders back, and that spine straight, soldier.
For starters, this kind of posture has health benefits like better breathing and back support. But, more importantly (in our case), it’s going to make you look and feel more confident. News flash: slouchers tend to be viewed as unconfident or uncertain. You can do something before going into public, too. It’s called the “power/superman pose”, where you put your hands on your hips with your elbows wide.
Funnily, this very pose has been experimentally proven to raise confidence. Erm, just keep in mind that you’ll look a little silly and unnatural doing this in public, that’s why we’re keeping it a preliminary ritual.
Make eye contact
Without proper eye contact, you appear scattered, anxious, or inattentive. When speaking or listening, look at their eyes. Or, if it’s a couple of people, alternate between them. Give Gilbert 30 sweet seconds and then Mary the rest of your minute.
To be fair, the last thing you want is for them to think that they’re not a part of the conversation. Forget confidence, they simply won’t like you. If in a crowd, staring into the souls of various individuals in your audience.
Okay, not literally, make sure not to make them feel awkward. Your eye contact should be natural, not a creepy death stare, please.
Don’t Fidget Too Much, Don’t Fidget Too Little, Fidget Just Right.
Many of us fidget without even realizing it. Little did we know that it’s a bright red indicator of low confidence. Some nervously jiggle their legs, others may flail their hands around too much when they talk. You may even find yourself excessively adjusting your idle position or nodding more than necessary. Stop it, you look like a suck-up. Self-conscious people tend to touch themselves frequently trying to “fix themselves up”.
Stop that too, you look insecure. Stand rather still instead, and only move when it’s appropriate. Practice conversing with a friend–preferably one not as awkward as you, and ask them to point out any peculiar quirks you may not notice about yourself.
Your “fidgeting” needs to have a balance. Have you ever heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, your hands say just as much about your confidence. Don’t hide them, use your hands occasionally to gesticulate some words in conversation.
You could even use your hands to occasionally extend a warm or playful touch if the situation warrants it.
Subconsciously, your hand usage tells people you’re not afraid to express yourself and you understand social cues well.