Build Your Confidence Doing This

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1. Make your voice more effective.

Speak loudly and clearly to ensure that everyone in the room can hear you. Adjust your volume according to the size of the audience. Lower your pitch to convey more authority. High-pitched voices can be perceived as shrill and annoying.

Vary the pitch of your voice throughout your presentation to give your words more power. End questions on a high note and punctuate statements with a lower note.

2. Adjust your position.

When you meet one-on-one with a client, sit up straight and keep your head up. Pull your shoulders back slightly and open your chest to allow for deeper breathing. Research by Erik Peper at San Francisco State University has shown that individuals who sit up straight have more energy and positive thoughts.

3. Avoid nervous behavior.

People tend to set up physical barriers when they feel uncomfortable. Don’t fidget, cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets.

Instead, fold your hands and place them on your lap or the table before you. When you’re not speaking, stay engaged and listen, expressing this with the posture of your whole body. If your client makes a comment or asks a question, show that you’re an effective listener. Lean slightly forward, make eye contact and nod occasionally.

4. Speak slowly.

You’re more likely to talk faster when nervous. If you speak too quickly, you might trip over words, forget to breathe or appear unsure. When you meet with a client, speak slowly and methodically.

There’s power in the pause. Brief pauses add a touch of drama to a presentation. Take a breath between thoughts to let your client better understand and appreciate what you’ve just said.

5. Practice power poses.

Participants in a Harvard Business School study who adopted certain high-power poses performed better and received higher evaluations when delivering a speech. Before meeting with a client, find a quiet space to compose yourself and prepare. Spend five minutes in an expansive, open posture to help you maintain your composure and exhibit more confidence.

Make yourself big and stretch out. Practice these power poses suggested by social psychologist Amy Cuddy:

Pride: Lift your arms over your head in a large V and raise your chin slightly.

Wonder Woman: Rest your hands on your hips with the elbows out.

Loomer: Stand, leaning forward over a table with your hands resting on the surface.

6. Ignore negative self-talk.

Don’t dwell on what others think of you. As you meet with your client, eschew the temptation to overthink your words or evaluate every misstep you make. Instead, focus on what you do well. Think about your accomplishments, what you can offer, and the talents of your team. Share your past successes with the client and explain why you’re the right person or company for the job.

7. Look the part.

Clothing is symbolic. You represent your business intellectually and physically. Entrepreneurs who dress well are perceived as more competent and powerful.

When you look your best, others treat you with more respect. Potential clients will associate high standards of appearance with the quality of your work. Dress for your industry and the comfort of your client. If you’re unsure about what to wear to a meeting, choose clothing that’s dark in color to convey more authority. It’s always best to dress more formally than to appear too casual.

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Self-confident people are admired by others and inspire confidence in others. They face their fears head-on and tend to be risk takers. They know that no matter what obstacles come their way, they have the ability to get past them. Self-confident people tend to see their lives in a positive light even when things aren’t going so well, and they are typically satisfied with and respect themselves.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have this kind of self-confidence, every day of the week? Guess what? You can.

“Low self-confidence isn’t a life sentence. Self-confidence can be learned, practiced, and mastered–just like any other skill. Once you master it, everything in your life will change for the better.” –Barrie Davenport

It comes down to one simple question: If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anybody else to?

Try some of the tips listed below. Don’t just read them and put them on the back burner. Really begin to practice them daily, beginning today. You might have to fake it at first and merely appear to be self-confident, but eventually you will begin to feel the foundation of self-confidence grow within you. With some time and practice (this is not an overnight phenomenon), you too can be a self-confident person, both inside and out, whom others admire and say “Yes!” to.

1. Stay away from negativity and bring on the positivity

This is the time to really evaluate your inner circle, including friends and family. This is a tough one, but it’s time to seriously consider getting away from those individuals who put you down and shred your confidence. Even a temporary break from Debbie Downer can make a huge difference and help you make strides toward more self-confidence.

Be positive, even if you’re not feeling it quite yet. Put some positive enthusiasm into your interactions with others and hit the ground running, excited to begin your next project. Stop focusing on the problems in your life and instead begin to focus on solutions and making positive changes.

2. Change your body language and image

This is where posture, smiling, eye contact, and speech slowly come into play. Just the simple act of pulling your shoulders back gives others the impression that you are a confident person. Smiling will not only make you feel better, but will make others feel more comfortable around you. Imagine a person with good posture and a smile and you’ll be envisioning someone who is self-confident.

Look at the person you are speaking to, not at your shoes–keeping eye contact shows confidence. Last, speak slowly. Research has proved that those who take the time to speak slowly and clearly feel more self-confidence and appear more self-confident to others. The added bonus is they will actually be able to understand what you are saying.

Go the extra mile and style your hair, give yourself a clean shave, and dress nicely. Not only will this make you feel better about yourself, but others are more likely to perceive you as successful and self-confident as well. A great tip: When you purchase a new outfit, practice wearing it at home first to get past any wardrobe malfunctions before heading out.

3. Don’t accept failure and get rid of the negative voices in your head

Never give up. Never accept failure. There is a solution to everything, so why would you want to throw in the towel? Make this your new mantra. Succeeding through great adversity is a huge confidence booster.

Low self-confidence is often caused by the negative thoughts running through our minds on an endless track. If you are constantly bashing yourself and saying you’re not good enough, aren’t attractive enough, aren’t smart enough or athletic enough, and on and on, you are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are becoming what you are preaching inside your head, and that’s not good. The next time you hear that negativity in your head, switch it immediately to a positive affirmation and keep it up until it hits the caliber of a self-confidence boost.

4. Be prepared

Learn everything there is to know about your field, job, presentation–whatever is next on your “to conquer” list. If you are prepared, and have the knowledge to back it up, your self-confidence will soar.

5. For tough times, when all else fails: Create a great list

Life is full of challenges and there are times when it’s difficult to keep our self-confidence up. Sit down right now and make a list of all the things in your life that you are thankful for, and another list of all the things you are proud of accomplishing. Once your lists are complete, post them on your refrigerator door, on the wall by your desk, on your bathroom mirror–somewhere where you can easily be reminded of what an amazing life you have and what an amazing person you really are. If you feel your self-confidence dwindling, take a look at those lists and let yourself feel and be inspired all over again by you.

By Peter Economy The Leadership Guy

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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