Just because you don’t feel confident doesn’t mean you can’t play the part. Many people who speak with swagger may not be as confident as they appear. They simply do a few things well.
Playing the part pays off: Confident people get the plum assignments, the raises, the recognition, Trent Hamm says on the blog The Simple Dollar (www.thesimpledollar.com). He used to struggle with presenting to and interacting with groups.
Now he follows these tricks for appearing confident:
1. Find a spot to focus on, as soon as you walk into a room filled with people. Choose something at eye level that you find visually interesting. Whenever you’re nervous, sweep your eyes to that spot.
Why? It allows you to break the nervous habit of looking down or away from someone when you speak, which is a visual cue that you’re nervous. As long as you keep your eyes level, you’ll appear to be keeping your gaze on others.
2. Straighten your posture with duct tape, masking tape or Scotch tape. Standing straight, with your arms relaxed at your sides, is a natural sign of confidence.
Ask a friend to help tape a 3-inch-high rectangular outline on your back, with the top line running between your shoulder blades.
Hamm swears by it. “As you go through your day, every time you attempt to slouch, that tape will tug at your skin, resisting a poor change in posture. It’s not painful, but it is a physical reminder.”
3. Invest in a travel-size bottle of mouthwash. Doing a simple swish creates a squeaky-clean feeling that gives your confidence a bump.
4. Take a 30-minute walk three times a week. Beyond improving your health, it also hastens the pace of your normal walking speed as your muscles grow stronger. A quickened pace looks confident.
5. Ascribe an adjective to a person’s eye color. For example, “cloudy blue” or “mocha brown.” Why? It forces you to look intently into the person’s eyes longer than you might otherwise. To the other party, you look engaged and, yes, confident.
6. Keep a chamomile tea bag in your desk drawer. A natural relaxant, chamomile can calm nerves before a nerve-frazzling situation. Hamm calls it his “secret weapon.”
7. Let Google News (news.google.com) or another aggregated-headlines site prep you. Before you head into a group situation, scan the headlines for up-to-the-minute news. Having a conversation topic ready means you won’t be standing around uncomfortably with no idea what to talk about.
8. When in doubt, ask a question. The best way to appear confident is to lead a conversation, rather than follow. And the best way to do that is to ask a question and then listen to the response.
Examples: “What do you do?” “What are you working on that you’re excited about?” “What did you think about the meeting or the speaker?”
While you’re listening, sprinkle in the other techniques: intent eye contact, good posture, etc.
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