Whether you’re addressing a large audience or chatting one-on-one at a networking event, it’s important that you’re displaying confidence. Being poised and in control helps to ensure that you’re taken seriously by your audience, and can make the difference between closing the deal or walking away empty-handed.
Here are four ways to use your body language to project an air of confidence, whether or not you’re actually feeling it.
- Use a wide and open stance. Don’t be afraid to take up space! Having your feet too close together can make you appear small and unsure. By widening your feet to about shoulder-width, you’re presenting a solid base while demonstrating that you’re an open and welcoming person.
- Make eye contact. This is common advice for those who become nervous in social and public speaking situations – and for good reason. Refusing to meet a person’s eyes makes you look nervous and ill at ease, but at the same time, constant, intense eye contact can make the other party uncomfortable. The trick is to find a happy medium that feels natural. Alternating your focus between the eyes and mouth is an excellent way to keep things from becoming awkward, while still achieving the goal of appearing confident and interested.
- Keep your hands visible. Hand gestures are a great way to keep your audience engaged in what you have to say. They can help bring your stories to life, and make you more interesting to watch (and therefore listen to!). These gestures are not possible, however, if you keep your hands shoved in your pockets or clasped behind your back. Avoid looking like you’ve got something to hide – show your hands, and show your confidence!
- Stand up straight. The desk life can make this one a little difficult, but focus on straightening your spine, pulling your shoulders back, and lifting your head and chest. Not only will this stance make you look better, it also helps your lungs to work at their full capacity, resulting in a stronger voice.
Speaking of voice, this is another excellent opportunity to display your unending confidence in yourself and your message. Here are three ways to ensure your words have a heavy impact.
- End phrases on a falling tone. When you drop your voice at the end of a sentence, it lends a sense of finality and certainty to your words. When it rises at the end of a sentence, however, your statement becomes a question, robbing you of your confident demeanor. State every point like you mean it (because you do), and you’ll come off as self-assured and knowledgeable.
- Speak slowly. It is common for people to rush their words in order to get an uncomfortable speaking ordeal over with, and it’s obvious when they do. Audiences can judge your comfort level based on the tone and speed of your voice – so bring them both down. Speak slower than you think is necessary, and then slow it down a bit more. Don’t be afraid to pause for breath. After all, you’re confident in yourself and your message, so why rush to get it out there?
- Avoid filler phrases. Um, like, you know what I mean? By removing unnecessary words and vocalizations from your speech, you sound more articulate and certain of your message. Speaking in precise, well-thought out sentences helps you to come off as informed on the topic and conscious of your words – hallmarks of a confident person.
Remember, though, that you can read all of the advice on body language and public speaking that exists on the internet, and it will still only take you so far. You need to believe yourself as confident in order to truly become so. As Dale Carnegie said, “Your future will depend very largely on the thoughts you think today. So think thoughts of hope and confidence and love and success.”