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Why Self-Confidence Should Be Your Biggest Goal This Year

Why Self-Confidence Should Be Your Biggest Goal This Year

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a new client at a coffee house that just opened up in her town. It was so new that the paint still had that fresh smell and the equipment didn’t have the patina of being used for countless cups of coffee. While we waited for 30 minutes for our coffees to come out I watched the staff seem unsure of what to do next, the owners hunched over and yelling at delivery vendors and their staff, and customers unclear of what they should be doing while the chaos was flinging around the cafe.

It was obvious, 5 minutes in, that the owners had never run a coffee shop before and they didn’t know what they were doing. They weren’t communicating and they weren’t delegating. Everyone seemed to be walking on eggshells and nothing except a whirlwind was happening.

I wasn’t there to observe them, but it made a great entry way into talking to my client, who can often feel less confident in her own work and life. She has all the skills she needs to make a huge impact, but she shrinks into a small shell when asked about her product. Instead of running in chaos like the owners of the cafe, she is completely frozen.

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Both things happen when you lack self-confidence. You either hold everything too tight because you are afraid to let people know that you aren’t sure of what you are doing, or you don’t do anything. Lack of self confidence hurts communication, personal and professional growth, and forward action.

Why Should I Build My Self Confidence?

People listen to other people who exude confidence. If you are unsure, trust me, your team is unsure. Now is the time to find that inner strength and write yourself a new story. You are valuable, creative and interesting. You carry all of the possibilities inside of you, but you need to practice letting that shine.

The owners of that coffee house weren’t confident running their business. They didn’t know how to communicate their needs to their employees or their vendors. No one knew what to do. Yesterday I drove by and they had closed after being open just 4 months. I’m not really surprised, but I am sad. If they had felt more confident and shared that leadership with their team, they might have made it.

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When your self confidence shines bright you can lead teams of any size because they trust you to be clear about what is happening. Of all the life skills needed, it is more important than your college degree, skills or experiences. You can’t lead without self-confidence, even if you are only leading yourself. Lacking self confidence closes you up to criticism, thoughtful decision making, communication and getting people to trust your leadership. Without self-confidence you can’t move forward in life or in business.

This is year to change all of that and take some real steps towards feeling more confident.

Stand with Confidence.

Changing your posture can make a huge difference in your self esteem. Standing tall, head up and shoulders back (but not ridged) allows your full stature to fill your space. People will interact differently with you when you are standing strong and tall; even if you aren’t feeling it, they will believe you have more confidence.

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Make Eye Contact

People feel more connected when we look into their eyes. They listen to our words more. You can practice by looking into your own eyes in the mirror. Doing this while you brush your teeth will get you in the habit of eye contact with others.

Practice Telling Your Story

We aren’t born business people, we don’t all exude confidence, and we may not be great at clearly articulating our goals, directions, hopes and needs. Practice when you are alone what you are going to say at your next meeting, with your boss, or with your employees. You don’t have to memorize a speech, but you do want to feel calm telling them what needs to be said.

Speak Up

Even though it might make you feel incredibly uncomfortable, speak up for yourself. No one will know your brilliant idea, understand your dreams or be able to help you if you don’t speak up when you have the opportunity. It is important to know that most people are at least a little shy or uncomfortable speaking up too and will, mostly, listen when you do speak up.

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Practicing these small steps can help break through that feeling of being too scared or too shy. Don’t let another year go without making strides towards your own self confidence; you have too much to offer.

Featured photo credit: Son of Groucho via Photopin

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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