Just recently I was chairing a panel session at the Conference and Hospitality Show in Leeds. Before going on the stage myself and the other panellists were talking about how we conquer our nerves so that we can get up on stage and speak to the audience. As I think we all know, speaking in public is not easy, and something that takes confidence. I can honestly say, for me, it has been a long road to get to the point where I can stand confidently on stage and present. Don’t get me wrong though, I still get nervous, and I still have considerable lows in confidence so today I thought I would share my five tips on how to feel confident when you don’t. These tips will quickly give you a confidence boost when you need one.
Five tips on how to feel confident when you really don’t
1. Talk yourself into confidence. I do this a lot. I talk to myself (mostly in my head but sometimes out loud too!) and I tell myself that I have got this. I can do this. I am not nervous; I am excited. I have the experience, and I have the knowledge to do this. These validations help me reframe my nerves so that they don’t stop me doing what I have to do even though I am nervous. Talking to myself also boosts my confidence because I am overcoming any negative thoughts that might be getting in the way.
2. Think about your body language. A lot of research has been conducted around body language and confidence. Changing your posture can give you a boost in confidence (check out Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on Power Posing) it can also help you hide any lack of confidence from other people. So when you need to appear confident, stand tall, head high, shoulders back and off you go! A five-minute power pose also helps so much!
3. Put yourself in their shoes. This is another technique I use a lot to help me manage any negative thoughts I have. When I do something that requires me to be brave, to have confidence and to be vulnerable in front of people I often ask myself, what are they thinking right now? What is going through their mind? Usually, I answer that with, what would I think if I was them? It certainly wouldn’t be anything negative. It would be positive – because usually people are friendly and they respect other’s who get up and step outside of their comfort zone. Also if you frame it in a way that you are getting people on your side, then they are with you, not against you. When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes for just a while it makes you realise that they are not holding you back – you are!
4. Visualise the end result. This is my all-time favourite trick to get through challenging scenarios that take me way out of my comfort zone. I visualise the end result. If it is public speaking, for example, I imagine the clapping at the end of the presentation and walking off the stage. If it is an event I have worked hard on, I make sure I plan something rewarding after the event and visualise feeling happy doing the reward thing I have given myself as a treat. I envision celebrating and the feeling of satisfaction. If I have to take part in a problematic conversation, I visualise the result again. I think about why I have to have that conversation, what I want to get out of it and what happens when I get what I want (I might not get what I wish to but visualising the result gives me the confidence to have the awkward conversation – to start the process).
5. Be prepared. For me, lack of confidence raised its ugly head when I was unprepared. This is ten times worse when you are unprepared and stepping outside your comfort zone. So if you know, you are going to be doing something that requires you to be confident and feel brave. Prepare!! Preparation does help with your confidence because you have the knowledge, skills and expertise to back you up and your brain will know that you are prepared!
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