Building real confidence takes time, but what if you don’t have time? You need some magic right now! Or maybe you just need a little tune up right before you head into a performance, important meeting or presentation. Here are some practical tips that you can use to give yourself a confidence boost right away.
Let’s first think about what is getting in the way of your confidence. Some of it is probably nervousness and part of it is your inner critic telling you facts about that feeling. Let’s say you are about to give a presentation and you are feeling nervous and not confident. We tend to think about what we want from that situation, we have an outcome that we are looking for and the anxiety comes up because we fear we may not get that outcome. Then the inner critic will start up
“They won’t get it, why even bother”
“They will see right through me, they will know I am not sure what I am talking about”
“They won’t respect what I have to say!”
So let’s tackle the physical aspect to this first. We need to clear the adrenaline a little bit so you have just the right amount. Some adrenaline will help your performance actually, but you want excitement and anticipation level not fear and dread level.
Do these three things to clear some of the adrenaline
1. Move. Get your blood flowing and metabolism revved up by taking a 10 minute walk, dance, doing some jumping jacks (not in heels though) do knee lifts and squats in a discreet out of the way place if you can’t get outside. This will help you metabolize the adrenaline a little. When I perform with my salsa dance team, I notice that when I throw a jacket over my costume and to go out on the dance floor and social dance, I feel clear headed and ready to perform. When I stretch backstage and don’t get moving I feel much more anxious.
2. Breathe deeply. Take 3 to 5 slow deep replenishing breaths and As you are breathing in, raise your arms overhead and imagine the clarifying oxygen running through your veins and making you laser sharp and ready. As you expel the air out, drop your arms and imagine that as you are breathing out you are letting go of the tension.
3. Rub your ears. I don’t know why this works, but my dance team director comes and rub our ears right before we go out to perform. Take the tops of your ears between your thumb and forefinger and rub them vigorously.
The second factor in feeling confident is your mindset. So rather than thinking of how you might be perceived or wether you will get the outcome you want.
Ways to get into the right frame of mind
4. List the skills and unique value you bring to the situation. It is easy to focus on the ways in which you are not qualified (Imposter Syndrome anyone?) but we forget that we are there for a reason. What are your best skills, and how are they going to help you in this situation? What experiences do you have that bring a unique perspective? Perhaps you are not the same as every other person who has given a similar presentation, but that is the edge you bring to this situation. You are going to give them a different view point.
5. Focus on what it is that you want to bring to the situation. If you are just there to give the audience something, what is it that you have to give? Do you want to educate and open their eyes? Do you want to entertain? Are you looking for the way to help the other person. My good friend, and client, Terri Hanson Mead, turned networking events around for me by having me shift this mindset about the situation. I used to hate going to networking events because they felt awkward and I wouldn’t know anyone. Instead of worrying about the awkwardness of the situation she advised me to approach every new introduction with the thought “what do I have that can help this person?”. My confidence in approaching groups of people I don’t know has skyrocketed.
6. Examine the thoughts. Since your inner critic is having a soliloquy in your head, ask her a follow up question. “Is that true? Can I absolutely say that what I am telling myself is true?” (hat tip Byron Katie). Then ask yourself if you can believe something else. Or imagine what you would tell a good friend to refute those thoughts.
7. Visualize a positive outcome. In your mind think about how you will feel when you achieve everything you wanted to achieve while you are in your presentation. Where are you feeling this in your body? Is it a warm feeling, a light feeling, a grounded feeling? If you are having a hard time thinking about the future, think back to a time when you were feeling confident. How did that feel? Where were you, and what were you about to do. – Identify where that feeling is in your body
8. Stand up confidently and own the room. I learned this trick from another life coach. First of all take a power stance, whatever that may be for you, but personally I like to stand with my legs slightly more than hip width apart, straighten my posture and bring my collar bones high and put my hands on my hips. And then recall the feeling you had from the previous exercise. Then as you walk into the room where the presentation is think to yourself, “I own this space!” as you scan the seam between the wall and the ceiling around the entire room with your eyes. Feel your presence filling up the entire room.
There are different ways to experience confidence. On the one hand it is a feeling to access in the moment when you are about to do something important to you. On the other hand it is an ongoing mindset that you bring to your everyday life. It is understanding when your inner critic is talking to you and how to respond in a way that moves you forward. It is knowing your purpose and feeling aligned with your values. It is having a growth mindset and the optimism that you can grow into what or who you need to be in order to achieve. Today was about centering yourself back into your confidence so you can focus on doing your best and being seen as the skilled person you are.
Leave a comment: I would love to hear from you when you most feel you lack confidence.
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