Often advice on improving confidence involves telling yourself positive thoughts about what is to happen – that you can do ‘X’. You can deliver the presentation, you can be successful in that job interview, or you can lead the team through this recent crisis. But, recent research puts doubt on whether this is actually the most effective way to talk to yourself to improve confidence.

A recent study has actually shown that asking yourself a question is far more effective. ‘How can I deliver this presentation well?’, ‘How can I be successful in this job interview?’ ‘How can I lead the team through this crisis?’ By asking the question to yourself, you generate a thought process around the solution. You start to form ideas about how you will achieve what you want. So how you talk to yourself actually changes your own behaviour. Next time, just ask yourself a question.

Breathe, and breathe again
A lack of confidence often shows itself in the way you sound. Low confidence usually means a quiet voice, a rushed voice, an overly brash voice, or a shaky voice. The medicine for all of these symptoms is simply to breathe. Of course we all breathe, all of the time, but breathing to remedy nerves is a skill anyone can practise and use.

Practise counting your breaths for 50 breaths, in and out. Do this at home, on the bus, on the train, or at work. Whenever you have a moment to just simply focus on your breathing. When you start doing this exercise you will find it is all too easy to be distracted and not reach that 50 mark. Don’t beat your self up about that. Just start where you left off, and have another go, another time. When you are counting your breathing slows down, you become more aware of the breath going in, and going out. You have an anchor to hold you in that moment. An anchor for mindfulness.

After practicing this exercise you will find that you can use your breathing to steady your voice and calm your mind, in the moment. Before that presentation, or interview, or first team meeting, count your breaths, even if it is just to 10. During the session be aware of breathing between points. And at the end, breathe slowly and carefully. All of this breathing will also ensure a better posture, a calmer mind and a clearer head.

Unashamedly copy the confident
We usually know someone who appears to be very confident – and we wish we were more like them. We admire the way the present in compelling way, lead their teams, interact confidently in meetings, successfully negotiate a pay rise or land a promotion. That person is actually someone who can really fast track your own ability to be confident. Just model them. How do they stand? How do they sound? How do they network? Who do they network with? By reflecting on what that person does, you can make subtle changes to what you do to be more like them.

…. More confidence tips to follow next month…