The working mums that I talk to want to feel fabulously confident at work, even in the toughest situations. I’m going to share strategies that work when dealing with appraisals, critical feedback, board meetings, client presentations and other challenging situations at work or in business. Even if you don’t feel great on the inside, when you pay more attention to the way you walk and talk, you will project increased confidence on the outside.
Project confidence in the way you walk and talk
How you walk and talk is critical to how others perceive you. Think about the last client presentation you attended; or a recent project meeting; or an interview you conducted. Who did you notice as they entered the room, and why? Who walked in looking bold and strong? Who slunk in, back to the wall? We all know that we make snap judgements of people in those first few seconds. Sometimes we like to convince ourselves that we are immune to first impressions, but honestly it’s true. The way you walk and talk has a big impact, even if you are not consciously aware of this.
“If I lack confidence, my shoulders might go up, my head might be down and it alters my voice. It creates tension around the neck area and the shoulders. The air goes through our larynx (or voice box) to create our voices and is compressed when we are tense.”
Before you enter the room, or before you stand up to make a presentation, take a moment or two to relax your shoulders. If you feel yourself tensing up during the meeting or presentation, consciously remind yourself to relax your shoulders. This will have a positive effect on your voice.
Notice what you notice about your own body language
Notice what you notice about your own body language in meetings? Do you huddle up? Do you cross your arms or legs? Are you, subconsciously, making yourself as small as possible? All of these physical gestures give strong clues as to how you are feeling and they also affect your voice. Think of a strong powerful person – how do they appear to you? How do they stand, how do they sit?
When you are sitting, think about taking up more space, open out the arms, relaxing the shoulders, keeping your elbows away from the body. Deborah Gruenfeld has researched the non-verbal cues, the words we use, and the other ways that we communicate. She has a useful video on Acting with Power. Check it out – it’s only 14 minutes but you’ll learn from it. Let me know what you think.
When you are at the table in a business meeting, sit up tall. Sit on the chair with your feet firmly on the ground. Remember to relax your shoulders. Lean in slightly i.e. with your elbows and forearms resting on the table. These subtle gestures give you more physical presence. They will also affect your voice making you sound more confident.
Before you go into the meeting or show up at the networking event, practice power poses – you can do this at home, or in the bathroom, or behind a closed door. From Amy Cuddy we learn that when you take just two minutes to change your posture, it will change how you feel, how you are perceived and boost your confidence.
When it is your turn to talk
When it is your turn to talk, take two or three deep breaths. Remind yourself why you are there and what your expertise is. Relax your shoulders. Take a moment to calm yourself. That’s ok. If anything, that shows that you have poise, presence and confidence. Many of us have a tendency to talk quickly when we are nervous. If you know you’re feeling nervous or anxious, consciously think about slowing down and relaxing the way you talk.
If you want to feel fabulously confident at work, even if you are feeling nervous about the presentation, or you are anxious about the way the meeting might go, think about how you walk and talk. These all have a big impact on the way you are perceived by others. And if others see you as confident, then you will start to feel that. Think about walking tall with relaxed shoulders. Notice what you notice about your own body language. Notice how you are taking up space. Lean in at the table. Practice power postures to boost your confidence. And when it’s your turn to talk, remember to relax and slow down. Try these tips out. What tips would you offer to women at work?
And if you like what you’re reading, you know you want more confidence at work or in business, and you’re also smart enough to recognise that you could do with some help, apply here to find out how The Confident Mother Experience could work for you.
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