Five easy ways you can feel (and act) more confident

Love to present yourself more convincingly at work? Discover five easy ways you can feel (and act) more confident.

Do you often wish you felt more confident? Do you hate meeting new people and dread work presentations? It may not feel like it sometimes, but you don’t have to be a prisoner to your nerves and fears.

With a little practise, some simple techniques and time to instil new habits, you can easily learn to not just appear more confident to other people, but genuinely feel it yourself.

Five easy ways you can feel (and act) more confident

To help you present yourself with more conviction, here are five easy ways you can feel (and act) more confident.

1) Look your best

If you want to feel your best, make sure you look the part. As shallow as this may sound, a number of studies prove that looking good on the outside can boost your confidence inside.

So if you need to, give yourself a confidence makeover. Revamp your wardrobe (check out our fashion features here if you need some help) and treat yourself to a trip to the hair salon.

And make sure you’re always dressed appropriately for the role you’re in. In one study, author and professor of psychology at the California State University, Abraham Rutchick, found that “wearing formal clothing makes us feel powerful.”

(A great reason why, as tempting as it can be, it’s not always a good idea to wear pyjamas when working from home!)

And in his New York Times article, “Look Your Best, Feel Your Best” makeup artist Scott Barnes talks about the connection between your appearance and self-confidence. He believes that “Looking good leads to feeling good, feeling good leads to empowerment.”

2) Act the part

Ever heard the expression ‘fake it ’til you make it’? Even if you don’t feel confident, just a simple trick like adjusting your posture and working on your body language can give you a boost.

Indeed, researchers at Ohio University discovered that simply sitting with a straight posture at a desk has a significant effect on how we feel about ourselves:

“Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people… But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.”

So if ever you’re feeling shy or unconfident, consciously check your posture and body language and readjust it. Not only will you feel better about yourself as a result, but you’re more likely to make a more favourable and convincing impression on anyone you’re speaking to.

3) Practice your speech (or take a course)

If you need to give a speech or presentation and you’re feeing unsure about it, practise thoroughly beforehand. The more you feel you know what you’re talking about, the fewer nerves you’ll have on the actual day.

Few of us are born natural public speakers – like many skills it’s something you need to learn and practice. So you may even want to consider taking a public speaking training course to teach you how to effectively communicate with your audience.

Not only will a good public speaking training course will teach you about things like verbal and nonverbal cues, enabling to convey your message with conviction and confidence, but it will instil in you the confidence that you genuinely know how to present yourself properly.

4) Focus on the positive

All too often, when our confidence is low, we focus on everything that’s wrong. We pick over previous negative experiences, and anticipate any future interaction with other people will go similarly badly.

And when we do that, guess what happens? Our future experiences are more likely to live down to our low expectations.

If you genuinely want to change the way you feel and act, then you need to change your thoughts. And the first step in this is moving your mind away from the negative, and instead focusing on the positive.

A great exercise to try is to get a blank sheet of paper and write down a list of positive things about yourself. (It can also help t ask others to contribute suggestions – you may be surprised at how positively other people view you and your skills.)

Your list can include both physical and intellectual characteristics. When you’re done, keep your list handy. Then, every time you notice your mind drifting to negative thoughts, refer to it and remind yourself of how great you really are.

Initially it won’t feel natural to dwell on your positive attributes – especially if you’ve had a lifetime of beating yourself up about how terrible you are! But like any habit, if you persevere and consciously force yourself to switch your thoughts, over time, thinking positively will become your new habit. And self-doubt and negative self-talk will become a thing of the past.

5) Listen to music

If you want a quick confidence boost then simply listen to one of your favourite songs. A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that “people who listened to upbeat music could improve their moods and boost their happiness in just two weeks.”

Apparently this is because:

“…soothing tunes foster the release of serotonin, a hormone that fosters happiness and a general sense of well-being. It also flushes the body with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. Music also paves the way for the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that brings about euphoria and elation.”

No wonder then that Desree had such a big hit in the 90s with her award-winning song You Gotta Be. Its lyrics “You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser./ You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger” became an anthem for many women.

So if you Gotta Be more confident, you could do worse that put on your favourite song!