We all have moments when we would like to feel more confident. These moments often arise more frequently for entrepreneurs.
As social psychologist Amy Cuddy, known for her research on body language and power posing, says, “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”
So if you’re in need of a confidence boost, here are five lessons I learned from successful women when I asked them to share their top confidence tips.
1. Know your goal
Decide what you want to achieve as a result of the conversation or presentation. “When you want to make an argument or validate an opinion, my trick to sounding confident, even if it’s an intimidating room, is to always speak in three’s. Create three short bullets to emphasize your point and don’t talk in circles getting there,” says Eileen Carey, CEO of Glassbreakers.
2. Practice out loud
Lisa Arbetter the editor in chief of StyleWatch, agrees that preparation is key, and recommends rehearsing out loud, rather than silently. “Rehearsing out loud helps me find phrases I may stumble over and also gives me a better sense of timing. Plus, because I’ve heard myself saying the words, I feel more relaxed,” she notes.
3. Speak clearly
Use an authoritative voice, speak slowly, and remove filler words and qualifiers. As Christi Cannon, senior vice president of marketing and development at Garden City Group says, “When you feel uncertain, it can be almost a compulsion to give yourself an out by qualifying your statements with an ‘in my opinion’ or ‘I think’ or ‘in my experience.’ You’re smart, you’re prepared, and you are there precisely to talk about your experience. Present your material with conviction and make no apologies for it!”
4. Pay attention to your body language
Show that you are confident and poised by maintaining good posture. A few tips: Maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and take up space. Instead of letting your shoulders cave in, squeezing your arms tight to your body, or crossing your arms, keep them relaxed to your sides or on the table. You don’t want to look like you’re starting a turf war, but you should look like you feel confident in your surroundings. Your body language doesn’t just affect the way people see you—it can also change the way you feel about yourself.
5. Read the room
Take cues from your audience. As Johanna Lanus, the founder and CEO of Work With Balance, explains, “Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it.” Lanus admits that the first time she pitched a potential corporate client, she spent the first minute of her presentation looking down at her prepared speech and then realized that she had completely lost her audience. She immediately turned the paper over and made eye contact with the executives. She looked more confident and became more comfortable. Unsurprisingly, the client loved the presentation and signed up for a program that day.
Confidence is an essential component of personal and professional success. Remember these tips the next time you are in need of a boost in self-confidence.
This article has been edited. A version of this article appeared in Forbes.
Elana Lyn Gross is a content strategist at mllnnl, journalist and the founder of Elana Lyn. Elana Lyn is a professional and personal development site that provides millennial women with actionable job search, career and wellness advice. More than 100 women from a wide range of industries have been interviewed in the Career Profile series. My writing has been published in TIME, Fortune, Women’s Health, Business Insider, Fast Company, Mashable, Refinery 29, Brit + Co, The Huffington Post and more. When I’m not writing, I’m likely to be found in Central Park. Connect with @ElanaLyn on Twitter.
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