A job interview with a potential employer. A presentation to a group of investors. A first meeting with your soon to be father in law. These situations can make even the toughest person weak in the knees. And in every case it’s because they lack confidence. Exuding confidence can make you more approachable, likeable, authoritative, and viewed as a leader. But no one can be confident all the time. So for those tough times when you need to come across as more confident, but don’t feel it, just follow these five tips.
- Dress the part. The ideal outfit will accomplish two key objectives: it will make you feel confident, while demonstrating your professionalism. The trick is to understand your audience (the group you are meeting with), and the setting (the place and occasion). For example, meeting your auto mechanic client at his shop, then attending a trade association event, may or may not require different outfits depending on the settings, expectations, and the impression you want to make.
- Stand straight. Proper posture will make you look poised and give the impression of authority. When seated, be relaxed and comfortable, but don’t slouch. If you’re seated at a table, leaning in with your arms resting on the top will make you appear interested. Leaning back will make you appear approachable and relaxed.
- Stay cool. Meetings can sometimes get heated, with emotions taking over. Confident people acknowledge the situation, but will not allow their emotions to get the best of them. Stay calm and objective, and never get personal. If things get too heated, suggest taking a 10 minute break.
- Balance listening and speaking. Confident people maintain eye contact when listening and speaking, but not to the point where things get creepy. When listening, give verbal and visual cues that you understand what is being said, such as nodding your head, smiling, or saying “I understand.” When speaking, look directly at the person you are addressing. If speaking to a group, try to make brief, random eye contact with each person. Not being able to look at those you are speaking to gives the impression of being insincere and dishonest.
- Accept your greatness. Confidence comes from not seeing yourself as being better than others, but being equal. And while a group of investors or potential customers can seem intimidating, remember that they experience the same challenges as you. They also get nervous, experience stress, have a fear of failure, and want to be liked. In many cases, their aggression or arrogance are not signs of confidence, but an over compensation for fear. If you can be the one to demonstrate that everyone is welcome, all ideas are valued, and no one will be judged, then you will emerge as the natural leader you were meant to be.
Marc Gordon is a recognized marketing expert. He regularly appears on TV and radio. His articles appear in over 200 publications worldwide. Visit marcgordon.ca or his online show at marctv.net for more business tips.