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Published on December 25, 2020

How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

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How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

fHere are some words that have increased in use over the last decade: self-confidence, authenticity, speak your truth, badass. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Way back in the days when I was growing up, these were not words that were shared around dinner table conversations in most homes. Sure, my parents promoted positive self-esteem for me and my brother, but not in the way you see it plastered across social media today. In fairness, there was no such thing as social media when I was a kid (or adolescent, or young adult—that’s how old I am!), so things weren’t so “in your face” good or bad.

Anyway, the idea that someone, especially a woman, should express herself with confidence and authenticity was not as promoted as it is these days. Expectations around what was proper and acceptable prevented a lot of people from stepping into their true selves to express their authenticity. Fear of judgment or ridicule held some back because the thought of being embarrassed was far too hurtful than sharing the truth.

We’ve all been there in some way, shape, or form. These feelings still exist for a lot of us. And that’s because we weren’t encouraged or taught how to proceed with them in a way that didn’t feel arrogant or self-serving.

It’s no easy feat to walk into a room or to present yourself as confident and authentic. But it’s not impossible or all that difficult if you remember these three things: be relatable, vulnerable, and fearless.

1. Be Relatable

I’ve gotta say, one thing that’s really been eye-opening for me since I started my professional coaching practice is that when you present yourself in a way that is relatable and honest, you create more meaningful connections and relationships. Being able to relate to another person increases trust in your relationship, and it’s something you can do with everyone in your life.

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During the spring, my son was having a difficult time with virtual learning for school amidst the pandemic. He would argue and have tantrums because he was upset and didn’t really know how to express it. One day he was sitting on the couch crying because he missed his friends, his teachers, his school.

My typically joyful and playful boy was hurting and I needed to help him. Instead of telling him he had no choice and to suck it up and “go to school,” I sat on the couch with him and cried and told him that I felt the same way he did. I wanted him to see his friends, his teachers, and to go to school. In fact, I missed my friends and all of the great things we got to do before we went into quarantine.

When I showed him that I could relate to how he was feeling, we were able to talk it out peacefully and logically. We were able to connect in a way that we hadn’t before. After that, he was able to understand why sharing your feelings is so important and how expressing yourself can help you in certain situations. Win-win!

2. Be Vulnerable

Vulnerability is another popular buzzword you hear popping up into conversations a lot lately. Gone are the days of “fake it till you make it.” We’ve learned that by sharing our own personal stories, we will be more authentic and confident with the people in our lives.

Opening up and sharing intimate parts of your life can sometimes be difficult. Similar to relatability, it often requires having to get over a fear of judgment. But when you decide to completely expose your truth, there is power and relief that often accompany it.

Being vulnerable and opening up can be helpful to others.[1] It can also bring a wave of support and understanding from your support circle of friends and family. It’s harder to keep things bottled up, no matter what the situation is.

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Several years ago I was going through a really difficult time at work. The environment was extremely toxic, and it was taking a toll not only on my professional life but my personal life as well. For as hard as I tried to keep them separate, it was impossible to build a complete wall.

In my professional life, I was drowning in anxiety, anger, and depression. I didn’t want to go to work because of the stress I would physically feel in my body. My productivity declined when I was in the office because I was constantly on alert to the things that were going on around (and to) me. I could never relax and feel like I could let my guard down.

It was an awful experience, and yet because I had an image in my head of what my life was “supposed” to look like, I said nothing to my family or friends at home. I was too nervous about sharing my vulnerability with the people who could’ve—instead of being in the dark—supported me.

My actions backfired bigtime. I eventually burnt out from the stress of trying to manage it all alone.

Having my husband find me in a heap of tears on the floor of our bedroom essentially having a breakdown from the stress and anxiety was the beginning of me sharing my true story. It took being vulnerable and expressing myself to help me heal and make the necessary changes in my life I needed to get healthy and clear.

Because of it, I was able to face my fear and ultimately make decisions that would re-route my life in a direction that I could never have dreamed of for myself. By being vulnerable and sharing my story, I have been able to build a business helping others overcome their own fears and challenges.

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3. Be Fearless

Confidence isn’t something we are born with—it’s learned. For some of us, it takes a really long time to find true confidence For others, it comes easy.

Confidence is a product of your surroundings, your support system, and your belief in yourself. You create your own confidence, the same way you create your own happiness by surrounding yourself with positivity and optimism through education and making choices that feel good.

Some people call confidence fearlessness. Not being afraid to be different, to speak your mind, or to share your vulnerabilities with others and face your challenges head-on—that’s being fearless.

I have a friend who has been bullied his whole life. Even to this day, as a middle-aged adult, he experiences forms of bullying. He reached out to me to talk about it because while he’s grown into an extremely self-assured, confident man, he now wants to understand the reason why people bully others, especially as adults.

I told him during our conversation that he was being fearless in his pursuit to educate himself rather than retaliate—that his confidence was helping him to express himself in a way that would ultimately help not only himself but also others who have been in similar situations.

My friend has spent years educating himself and working on his fearlessness. He’s grown from the doubtful boy into the self-assured man his friends and family know and love. He’s overcome so many obstacles around self-worth, disbelief in himself, and anxiety that he is now a shining example of how to thrive.

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We hear the word “haters” a lot on social media—people who express negativity in a bullying sort of way. When you have the capacity to step into your power and shine regardless of what others think about you, you are fearless. Expressing yourself becomes easier because you can fully embrace who you are and when you do that, you will attract the people you need in your life.

Final Thoughts

Being able to express yourself authentically doesn’t come naturally for a lot of us. It takes work to get to a place where you can be comfortable with yourself, especially if you’ve been through difficult times. But if you allow yourself to open up and share your true self, your authenticity and confidence will shine right through.

Being able to be yourself can bring a sense of relief and calm. You might (probably will) go through some challenges along the way. But in the end, you will know a feeling that you have never known before, and that will make it all worth the journey.

More Tips on How to Express Yourself

Featured photo credit: Timur Romanov via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Krista Rizzo, CPC

Transformational Life Coach, TEDx Speaker, Author & Founder

The Most Effective Strategy To Resolve Conflict At Work How to Be a Good Listener (And a Better Communicator) How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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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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