Fake it ’til you make it. We often hear this advice, but how true is it really? According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, very. “Your body language shapes who you are,” she said. In a recent TED talk, she showed the world how our posture affects testosterone and cortisol levels in our brains, which plays a part in determining how we feel about ourselves.
Standing tall, even when you don’t feel confident, projects confidence. Those who project confidence often receive more praise, promotions and other positive reactions than those who look meek or low.
1. Know your audience.
When dressing for the day, understand who you will be speaking to and create daily dressing ritual that includes the question: “Who am I speaking with today?” Headed to a board meeting? Dress conservatively, wearing clean lines and traditional business attire. Taking the boss to lunch? A more business casual outfit might be appropriate. When in doubt, go with a classic look that can fit all sorts of situations.
2. Strike a pose.
A power pose can help you gain confidence before you head into that meeting or lunch. Find a private place, stand tall and open your arms up and above your head in a “V” shape. According to Cuddy, this can make you feel and act powerful. Imagine the thrust up arms of victory many athletes use after winning or completing a race.
Alternatively, when you are standing at the coffee maker and your boss walks in, striking the “Wonder Woman” pose with your hands on your hips and your chest broad, can also exude confidence. This pose makes you look bigger and keeps you from looking meek.
3. Reset your emotions.
This can be harder to say than do, but when you’re very nervous, try to reset your emotions. Take a private moment to breathe deeply and perhaps concentrate on the points you need to make rather than the nervousness you feel. If you go through your points deliberately, you’ll be able to reduce your nervousness and start your presentation off confidently.
4. Accept nervousness.
Nervousness is there for a reason. Accept it. Your body gets nervous to sharpen your wits and prepare you for the battle ahead. Now, you may not be a caveman heading off to battle a wooly mammoth—or a bear, but you are heading into your own personal battle. Embrace the feeling. Understand that it’s there to help you and let it give you confidence.
5. Visualize the outcome.
What do you want to happen at the end of this meeting? Picture it. Vividly. Take a little time beforehand and go through the presentation. Have you ever watched a skiing event on TV? At the top of the hill, have you seen the skiers close their eyes and move their bodies or heads? They are visualizing the ski run. They go through each twist and turn before it happens. Do this with your presentation. See what you need to do before you do it and it will likely be successful.
6. Enter with pride.
Walk into the room, whether it’s a meeting or a lunch, with a smile on your face and your arms open for greeting. Avoid placing your hands in your pockets, which indicates low self-confidence or across your chest, indicating protectiveness. Shake hands, if it’s appropriate, and keep your stance open while giving your presentation.
7. Gesticulate and animate.
Be an animated presenter. Use your arms and hands to express yourself. Point to important elements of your presentation and interact with members of the team.
Being confident and showing confidence are often two different things. You don’t have to be confident to look it. Look confident long enough and eventually, your confidence will grow. Or as Bob Dylan said, “Act the way you’d like to be and you’ll soon be the way you act.”
Featured photo credit: DC Comics via media.dcentertainment.com