Welcome back to my monthly series on building self-confidence to enhance relationships and strengthen communication skills.
Uncertainty holds many of us back from joining new groups of people, networking or reaching out to people we don’t know well. Whether you’re headed into a job interview, preparing for a presentation or getting ready to meet with a difficult or unknown individual, performance anxiety may shackle you in terror.
Here’s how to manage nerves and build your confidence before heading into an anxiety-provoking situation. Remember, your body language sets your frame of mind as much as it communicates to those around you.
Harvard Business School researchers found that people who prepare for a stressful presentation or interview by practicing power poses appear more composed and project more confidence during the presentation or interview, resulting in more positive evaluations from the audience.
Take up space. Have you ever noticed how a dog tries to look larger by raising its hackles when it’s scared or faced with an opponent? Through body language, the animal is instinctively trying to appear more confident in the pending face-off. Before going into your meeting, stretch your arms out as far as you can. Stretch your legs. Put your arms on the arms of your chair and sit up tall. Stretch your back. If you can get away with it, prop your feet up on your desk and sit back. You’ll immediately feel a boost of confidence as your body language signals to the brain that “you’ve got this”.
Stand like Superman or Wonder Woman. Stand in front of the bathroom mirror. Put your hands on your hips and your legs out in a wide stance. Smile confidently. Rehearse what you plan to say.
Show victory. Channel your favorite sports hero and stand with your fists up, arms out in a Y for victory.
Hold a Warrior pose. This is one of my favorite yoga poses that inspires strength and confidence. First stand with your feet hip-length apart. Then turn your right foot out. Move your left foot back keeping the arch of the left foot in line with the heel of your right foot. Your toes of your left foot should be pointed towards the front of your body, while the toes of your right foot should be pointed toward the right wall. Raise your arms and send one arm towards the right wall and the other towards the back wall. Your arms should be in alignment. Palm down, stretch your right hand toward the right wall and stretch your left hand toward the back wall. Hold the pose for two minutes. Repeat on the opposite side.
While practicing you preferred power pose, take deep breaths in and out. Visualize yourself succeeding in front of a friendly audience. If it helps, choose a mantra to repeat to yourself like, “I am strong. I am confident.” While it may sound corny, repeating a mantra out loud can help build your self-confidence. I was resistant to mantras for a long time but once I actually tried it, I was pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of the practice. Try it and see if it works for you.
How do you get yourself pumped before an anxiety-inducing social situation?