By Stacey Chammaa
Life, in many ways, is a balancing act. We hear about the importance of balance all the time whether it be with work, home life, our diets or finances.
But one thing we all need to find the right balance with is confidence. Having too much or too little could easily cost you a potentially great job at any stage of your career.
It’s a fine line to walk; some people may think you have too much, others not enough. We have days where we might feel bolder and others where we question our abilities.
Being on stage or public speaking is not for everyone but regardless of your profession, it’s likely that at some point in your career you will be required to speak to a group of people to communicate your message.
With social media embedded in our daily lives, we are all becoming our own broadcasters. Maybe you want to promote your business or explain your product to a targeted audience but dread putting yourself out there for instant feedback.
Whatever the reasons may be, how can we help ourselves improve our ‘performance’?
1. Practice Reduces Fear and Anxiety
Fear is diminished the more we practice something and therefore nothing beats preparation. Planning what you’re going to say is imperative, even taking it a step further and practising how you’re going to say it. Having previously worked in a global FMCG brand, for several years, I distinctly remember my hypercompetitive colleagues all diligently rehearsing their business plans. Eventually knowing it off by heart, every dramatic pause was deliberate and there for effect. Whether it be a group of 5 or 100, be prepared.
2. Avoid Seeking the Opinion of Others
If you have a presentation planned and you’re ready to go avoid seeking advice from others at the last minute, especially if it’s too late to actually make any changes. Criticism, however constructive, is exactly that and will do little to help along with your performance and only feeds into negative self-talk (see point 8).
3. Find a Mentor
Sometimes we need or want feedback but be careful who you ask. Choose someone likeminded, who you admire, trust and is willing to give you an adequate amount of time but most importantly has a good track record of good decision making.
4. Dressing the Part
It might be a lucky shirt that gets you by but having something new, that fits your current shape, can’t be underestimated. If you look good, you will feel good and that directly impacts your confidence. Confidence is a muscle you can strengthen over time but dressing the part is a big part of that and serves as a little booster. It also helps to correct your posture, smile and look people in the eye to show you have a warmth about you, which improves social interaction between you and the people you are talking to.
5. We Are All Green at One Point in Time.
There may come a time when you just have to wing it, pushing yourself into trying something new for the first time. Remember we were all beginners at the start of our career and portraying a bit of confidence can definitely affect your behaviour in a positive way.
6. Play Up Your Strengths
If you’re not a particularly funny person now is not the time to practice. Be honest with yourself about what works for you and inject it into what you’re doing. If you're serious be serious, if you’re funny, be funny. The most important point is be authentically you, unapologetically.
Always try your best, you don’t want to leave a situation not feeling like you’ve given it your best shot. Plan a reward for afterwards, something small but you know you will enjoy and can look forward to.
8. Positive Self-Talk
If you don’t think you’re capable how will you ever convince anyone else you’re capable. Being your own cheerleader is very important. If you're prone to negative self-talk it’s important to change the narrative, as this results in self-sabotage. Silence your inner critic by reminding yourself, as you’re going into whatever you're about to do, that you belong there and you’re not only capable but well prepared.
Believing you can do something, and wanting to, can really help you manage to pull through and deliver. You may argue it's an obligation you simply don’t want to fulfil - it's important to reframe your thinking here.
i.e. I don’t particularly want to present but I do want to share my work with my peers, giving power to words of influence, and this is the best way for me to be able to do that.
Hopefully, these 8 pointers help you believe in your abilities and cultivate more confidence. Good luck!