Confidence and Communication

Confidence is key to successful communication. This is a concept that toome a while to learn as I was moving up in the ranks throughout my life and my career. I had always thought that knowing was the key, but time and again I’d enter a room knowing everything I needed to direct a great lecture or conversation yet lacking what it took to command a room.

That’s not the case anymore, of course, but when people come to me for mentoring and hide behind the excuse that they are just naturally introverted I call them out on it immediately. I explain that I am a “closet introvert” — which means what, exactly? I understand that I must don an extroverted charismatic attitude to communicate my point and get things done.

So what was my AHA moment? Well, one afternoon I walked into a conference room with a Powerpoint I’d slaved over for weeks and a pile of promotional material to distribute. Once I gave out the material, no one was looking in my direction — or at the Powerpoint — because they were looking at the handouts. Since I was shy, I didn’t really mind that the spotlight wasn’t on me. The problem, however, was that I had inadvertently lost their attention in the process.

A less experienced colleague burst into the office, unprepared but full of energy, and raised his eyebrows at the neat pile on my desk. “Wow! You did all that yourself?” “Yes.” “That’s great! I’m not sure what I’m going to say when I get in here. I’m headed to my room to jot down a few notes for the Powerpoint. See you in a bit!”

He wasn’t ready? At all !?! How was that possible? I didn’t fret over the matter for too long. I was busy practicing my pace and highlighting the passages in the text that I wanted to emphasize to the group….

After my presentation, the group thanked me for my effort and I got a few follow-up questions. When my colleague bounded in and presented on the same topic — with no more than a bare-bones Powerpoint he’d slapped together that morning — he had everyone on the edge of their seats, with loads of questions and feedback afterwards.

What was the difference? Charisma… confidence…. At a meeting the following year I used the same approach as my colleague and was rewarded with very positive feedback and follow-up calls/emails for weeks afterwards….

A FEW CONFIDENCE-BUILDING POINTERS

Understanding the significance of positive body language (good posture, eye contact, etc.) gives off the impression that you are confident in yourself and in your abilities, that you are a knowledgable and capable professional. If you’re not sure whether you have positive body language, practice in the mirror for a few minutes every day till you feel that you have developed a confident air.

Remember that you are a smart, capable, beautiful person! When you walk into a room, smile brightly, remembering who you are, and you will naturally command the room. If you’re truly shy, it usually helps if you scan the room as you walk in and find someone you know. Once you’ve spotted them you instinctively light up and smile, which makes others notice you.

No one can take your confidence away from you unless you let them.

For a list of confidence-building exercises, please feel free to contact us. If you would like to share a specific confidence-building “AHA” moment, please feel free to add a comment to this post!

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