In the ultra-competitive society we inhabit, confidence is a trait that is often judged, but rarely considered.
Under stressful circumstances such as a job interview or a big sales pitch, it’s easy to fall into bad habits that could put you well below other candidates.
Unfortunately, I can’t cure your crippling anxiety, but I can offer some tips on how to appear confident while internally you’re screaming your little heart out.
This should go without saying, no matter what you are preparing for.
If you’re going for a job interview, make sure you research the company so that you know exactly what they do, how long they’ve been around and most importantly, know the name of the person that’s going to be interviewing you.
No one’s first impression should ever come from the sentence “Nice to meet you…..guy”, unless his name is actually Guy.
Nothing screams confidence like a person that takes pride in their appearance, so before any big moment make sure you are well groomed and have an outfit that is appropriate for the workplace you’re entering.
For example, if you’re making a presentation to an executive team, make sure you look the part or they’ll see straight through your ill-executed disguise.
Take control of your body language
As hard as it is to control your body language in times of stress, it’s important to be mindful of how you carry yourself.
If you’re talking to a prospective client while your eyes are darting all over the place, they might assume that you are being disingenuous, or maybe your slouch is telling them you are not at all interested in their business.
Check out Body Language That’s Killing Your Career for tips on what not to do.
Know your strengths
In most circumstances, a healthy dose of modesty is what will make you a likeable person, but in the workplace, modesty is for suckers.
Know what you are best at and don’t be afraid to flaunt it. Just make sure that you are actually good at what you’re spruiking, lest you be branded a liar.
Be enthusiastic about what you do and the opportunities you are given.
You don’t have to love your job, but if your aim is to progress, your boss is far more likely to give the opportunity to someone that is enthusiastic about their work over Stuart from Accounting that spends a good portion of his day in the kitchen, sipping his coffee in front of the clock. I’ve got my eye on you, Stuart.
Avoid faffing on about one thing or another for too long or you’ll be sure to lose the interest of the poor soul or souls in front of you.
I once interviewed a guy that took twenty minutes to explain his current role when he could have easily summed it up with ‘Accounts Processing’. Get the point across and move on.
The human brain has a remarkable ability to instantly dismiss an idea or opinion if it’s coming from a source of perceived unreliability, but if you can’t fix your nerves, you can always fake it ‘til you make it.
Image: Don Draper in Mad Men