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7 Strategies to Increase Confidence

7 Strategies to Increase Confidence
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“With confidence, you have won before you have started.”

Confidence. It’s the one thing we all want, yet the one thing we all struggle with from time to time. These seven simple strategies will help you build your confidence from the inside out. Let’s look at Joe. He has been through some tough times in his life, from the recent death of his mother, to his child having a major medical issue. Like many of us, Joe values his family. His strict travel schedule, un-prioritized lifestyle, and desire for success has kept him from spending quality time with his family. While Joe thought what he was doing was the definition of success, he is now overwhelmed with regret, shame, failure, and is struggling to get through these difficult times.  While many of us share similar stories as Joe, it’s important to reflect, renew, and release what no longer serves us by integrating these seven strategies to increase our self-confidence.

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Healing starts from within.

While Joe could blame himself for not being there when his family needed him most, it’s important to remember that all of us get caught up in life and forget the most important thing. The things that we value the most. Joe, like many of us, needs to look within to heal the hurt, pain, and regret he’s suppressing from having to deal with major life issues like the death of his mother. Instead of blaming himself Joe needs to forgive himself for not recognizing that his pattern of behavior was hurting not only his family, but more importantly himself.  When we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.

Face your control issues.

While all of us want control over one aspect of our life or another, it’s important to recognize that when we release the control that we have, the universe gives us what we want. While Joe could control his travel schedule, work agenda, and other things, he could not control the fact that his child was born with a medical issue or that it was his mother’s time to go. Most of the time, we try to control the things we can’t control, and in doing so get angry, frustrated, and upset when what we expect a certain result and in return get something else.  By engaging in explosive arguments, you refuse to take responsibility for yourself.  Ask yourself, “What is it costing me?” If the answer is your dreams, identity, or dignity, the cost is too high.

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Give yourself credit.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Give credit where credit is due?” Just take a second and look back on your life and realize how far you’ve come, how many times you’ve failed and picked yourself up, how many successes you’ve had and give yourself credit. For the small successes make a huge difference in the way we look at and treat ourselves.

Understand your history.

Change revolves around learning and all learning creates change.  Your brain and body are a sophisticated communication system.  Your thoughts create inner standards or rules which were developed from the time you were a child.  These standards and rules dominate your pattern of previous and continued behavior throughout life.  While it’s critical to understand your history, it’s more important to re-learn these patterns of behavior to maximize your personal potential while governing your choices and actions with precision.  Joe may have made mistakes in the past that hurt the relationships he had with those closest to him, but by understanding his pattern of behavior he will be able to move forward and progress at a steady pace.

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Behave your way to success.

All too often we claim we are busy and although we might be, the problem is that we are not being productive. Productivity increases the efficiency of an organization. This allows you to get more done in less time. Productivity is much more important than revenues and profits, because profits only reflect the end result whereas productivity reflects the increased efficiency as well as effectiveness of you overall. Moreover, it enables you to find out your strengths and weaknesses. It also lets you easily identify threats as well as opportunities that prevail in the market as a result of competition and changes in the business environment as a whole.

Communicate with emotional integrity.  Empathetic listening is the basis for the integrity of communication that facilitates rapport and understanding. There is nothing people love more than talking about themselves.  In any important relationship, mis-communications and mistakes are very likely to happen between people. What is important is how we work these problems out. Instead of having problems end up damaging relationships and trust, these can become opportunities to learn and grow from each other. The most important skill we have is not what we say, but how well we listen. 

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Charge what you are worth.

Too many times we focus our skills and abilities on twenty different things, spreading our plate thin, and our time even thinner.  And, it is these exact things we complain are not fulfilling our basic needs.  By helping people for free, it is pulling you away from what you are naturally called to do.  While people will always want and need your help, value comes with a price tag.  E-mail, commenting on blogs, social media, etc., it all interrupts and distracts you from more important things that truly benefit both the business and the bottom line. Charge what you are worth, and don’t apologize.

While determining what direction to take in life, many of us make the same mistake. We try to apply the principles of our parents, spouses, co-workers, etc., to our own individual journey. Then, we’re surprised when we’re miserable. The first thing to do when trying to connect to your life’s purpose is to set aside the need to please others or live up to anyone else’s expectations. Be completely honest about what matters most to you. Define your core values, respect, and be yourself. This and this alone will automatically increase your self-confidence.

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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)
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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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