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9 Keys To Confidence

9 Keys To Confidence

You see THEM all around you:

Walking confidently into a bar and asking someone for their number.

Expressing their views in a company town hall meeting.

Asking the dreaded question to their boss. All these folks are reeking of confidence!! Do you wish you had the confidence that they possess, to do the things they do and say the perfect things they say?

When you hear the word ‘successful’ who comes to your mind first? Someone on TV or real life who seems to feel no fear and says the perfect thing and does things confidently, right? Yes, Confidence is tied to success, and vice versa.

There are several assumptions we make about these confident people.
Firstly, we assume confident people are born that way and possess a natural ability to do or say things that you cannot do or say. They can walk into a bar and talk to someone, because it is an innate ability that they possess. Because of their ‘inborn gift’, they can go anywhere, say anything and do anything.

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Fortunately, that is not true! Confidence is a learnable skill. No one was born feeling confident or not confident. We were all born as clean slates. The years of social conditioning and all the other factors make us adopt certain mindsets. Would you be surprised if I told you that you can feel confident this very moment? Yes, you can tell yourself that you need to feel confident right now and you can probably turn it on like a switch. The only difference is that the switch does not stay on forever and will probably flick down in a minute after you adopt that attitude and mindset. The later part of this article will address how to adopt and sustain the confidence mindset.

Another assumption about confidence is that confident people are never scared. Again, this is untrue. Confident people can be scared like the rest of us; they have the same set of limiting thoughts and fears that make them feel not confident at times. What sets them apart is their ability to rise above these fears and forge ahead despite them.

The third assumption is that confident people are confident in all areas of their lives. This isn’t necessarily true. Someone who is confident to ask their boss for a raise may not necessarily feel confident to ask someone out on a date, or vice versa.

Confidence is not necessarily about knowing all the answers; it’s about being able to move forward knowing that you will figure it out. It is knowing that you can handle whatever comes at you.

Here are some strategies and tips for upping your confidence level to make it ever-lasting. Like with all mind-related work, these tools and strategies will produce results only if they are ingrained in the DNA of your being. That begins with consciously practicing them until living in this way becomes a truly ingrained habit.

1. Awareness of your strengths

Not many of us have consciously taken time to understand our own strengths. Being aware of one’s own strengths is an important tool in boosting confidence. There are many online resources and books to help you find your own strengths. StrengthFinder 2.0 is a great book and also provides an online assessment to identify your top strengths. You will be surprised at how spot on it is. The key for success with this strategy is to identify your strengths and constantly remind yourself of them. Make a a list of these strengths and keep it in a handy spot like your wallet, your work desk, or your mirror. That way you can constantly remind yourself of your strengths and play to them. Playing to your strengths will help in making you feel confident about your abilities and provide a constant boost.

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2. Confidence-competence loop

The more you do something, the better you become. When you first started riding a bike, you faltered and fell a few times. But you kept at it. The more you tried it, the better you got. And one day, you were able to ride successfully without falling, to the point that you now thoroughly enjoy riding the bike. This is the same competence-confidence loop that you can employ in other areas of your life.

Try it during situations that make you feel uncomfortable and not confident. If you hate eating alone at a restaurant, do it every day for the next 2 or 3 weeks. It’s going to feel weird and uncomfortable at first. The first few times you are not going to feel confident and the hour could feel long. But by the end of the third week, i guarantee you will feel more confident. If you fear public speaking, do it enough and you will see that fear disappear. Very soon, you will be delivering presentations with confidence and ease. This is also tied to the next tip.

3. What’s the worst that can happen?

Often times, that little voice in our heads stops us from doing something and asks questions like:

“Am I sure? Does this make sense for me? Am I capable of this? Do I know all I need to know to do a good job? What if I don’t succeed? What if people laugh at me?” and so on.

That’s when asking a simple question like “What’s the worst that can happen?” may offer a different perspective and a potential way to turn that voice off. What’s the worst that can happen when you try to ask someone out on a date? They could say no. Is that the end of the world? Filter your thoughts through the lens of abundance. Try the ‘whats the worst that can happen?’ tactic the next time that little voice in your head starts asking questions.

4. Past successes

“The more you acknowledge your past successes, the more confident you become in taking on and successfully accomplishing new ones” – Jack Canfield.

Jack captures the essence of this strategy perfectly with this above quote. Even small successes are successes to be noted and celebrated. Every small step that is accomplished towards a major goal is still a step to be celebrated. Sometimes we are so lost in reaching the end goal, we forget to acknowledge the little steps that we take and the little achievements we reach on our path to the goal. Each of these successes from your past should be resurrected in your memory often, serving as a reminder about your abilities and again injecting you with a confidence boost.

5. Preparation

For certain tasks, just preparing well ahead of time soothes that negative voice in the head and prevents it from popping up again. Preparing for a speech that you do not feel confident delivering, or a meeting with your boss, or anything that can be prepared for, is definitely a surefire tactic for increasing confidence.

6. Say thank you for compliments

When someone compliments you for anything – for your work, the way you did something, the way you said something or simply for the way you look, how do you react? Do you shrug it off and say ‘it was nothing’, ‘I am not sure why I was given this award’, I don’t deserve it’, ‘I just got lucky this time around’… all these are indicators of weakened confidence.

You do not believe enough in yourself to accept compliments.

Switch out that thinking and start accepting compliments graciously. When given a compliment learn to say thank you comfortably, thanking the person for recognizing your efforts and offering support. It is a display of belief in yourself which repeated consciously over a period of time begins to deeply seat itself in your mind- leading to stronger levels of confidence.

7. Fake it ’til you make it

There are 2 opposing views on this strategy. Some advocates strongly believe that ‘faking it ’til you succeed’ can increase your confidence and thereby increase your competence. The opposing view believes that it is not ethically right to fake it in the first place. I suggest an in-between approach.

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You’ve heard of dressing for success. It is a form of faking it ’til you make it. You dress ‘up’ to get the job you want. That does not mean you are not competent or that you are faking it. It means that you want the job and believe you can perform well in that role, and you are displaying that attitude in your external appearances as it relates to the job. You can’t fake being a professional singer if all you do is sing in the shower. But if you are a great singer with true capabilities and experience, looking for better singing opportunities, using a little ’embellishment’ is not wrong. In fact, you are not even faking it at that point.

8. The power of affirmations

Affirmations are simple, positive, and specific statements written in the present tense with the sole purpose of changing one’s thoughts. These sentences help in strengthening and reinforcing beliefs you need to achieve success. Affirmations practiced faithfully rewire the brain and help us break negative thought patterns. The best thing about affirmations is that there is no limit to the number of affirmations you can create and say- and each affirmation can be unique for you and for the thought pattern you are trying to break.

The key to finding success with affirmations is through repeating the affirmations on a consistent basis, preferably multiple times- and saying them with conviction. Give this a power boost by standing in front of the mirror and saying these affirmations as you look at yourself. Some examples of affirmations for boosting self-confidence are:

  • I have confidence in my ability to do whatever I set my mind to;
  • I am discovering more wonderful things about myself with each passing day;
  • I truly like myself and this helps others to accept me for who I am;
  • I believe in myself completely;
  • I believe that I can achieve anything I want;
  • My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless;
  • My potential to succeed is infinite;
  • I acknowledge my own self-worth; 
  • My confidence is soaring.

9. Gratitude

In today’s fast paced society, we are generally lost in the daily grind of life and the tendency is to focus on the negative and the bad things that make life a challenge at times. We forget to think about and appreciate the positive. Appreciating each and every small blessing in our lives becomes a task taken for granted and we even forget that those little blessings are in fact blessings that make our life beautiful in some way.

Another great habit to form is the habit of making time to be grateful. Start a gratitude journal and spend 2-3 minutes every night expressing 3-5 things in your life that you are thankful for. Write them down. The power of the written word has been constantly proven to be stronger than the spoken. What you are grateful for every night need not be something profound. Small things like the smell of freshly baked cookies, hugs from your kids, to big things like a promotion at work, or an hour of uninterrupted reading could be things to be thankful for. Some days, I am just thankful to be alive- healthy and kicking. There is no limit to the number of things you can be grateful for. Make this a daily habit and see a tremendous change in your attitude to people and life. You’ll also see your confidence surging ahead when you realize what a great life you have.

As mentioned earlier, all these strategies and tools involve conscious effort and repetition until they become ingrained into your life. But the effort is well worth it when you see a constant upsurge in your confidence levels.

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What other strategies do you use to up-level your confidence?

Featured photo credit: http://www.imcreator.com/free/business/suit-and-tie-2 via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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