Confidence is the most powerful tool for persuasion you possess. People tend to be more attracted to those who are confident and more likely to agree with them or want to do what they ask. But there’s a problem. From time to time everybody gets butterflies. Your palms start to sweat, your breathing becomes erratic, your mouth gets dry. The trick is to avoid conveying your lack of confidence to other people.
So how can you avoid looking like the nervous wreck you actually are? Here are five simple tips.
1) Stand like an Army officer, only a bit looser. When you’re nervous you tend to want to draw into yourself, almost like a turtle withdrawing into its shell. Your hands will close into your body and your feet will draw closer together, which of course will affect your balance. When off balance, not only will you look more nervous, you’ll feel it, too.
Widen your stance. Straighten your spine. Head up, chest out, shoulders back! Let your hands fall to your side. This is how confident people stand: balanced symmetrical, alert but not rigid. When you do this you’ll find an amazing thing happens. Not only will you look more confident, you’ll start to feel more confident, too.
2) Move! I know what you’re thinking. Nervous people pace, don’t they? When they’re anticipating a stressful situation, yes, they do. But when they actually meet that stressful situation they shut down. Think deer caught in the headlights. So remind yourself to change position.
3) I know I said move, but do it in slow motion. If you’re really nervous your breathing rate will be elevated and you’ll be inclined to move more rapidly than you think you are. So compensate for this by imagining that you’re moving a medium that provides some resistance, like water or molasses. Or perhaps imagine that you’re moving like somebody practicing Tai Chi. As you slow down you’ll not only look more relaxed, you’ll start to feel more relaxed.
4)Find something to do with your hands (other than pick at yourself.) Our best efforts as looking calm, cool and collected can be betrayed by fidgety hands. Usually your hands will want to adjust or touch yourself in some way. Think Rodney Dangerfield tugging at his necktie.
Have you ever wondered why so many comedians and singers use hand held microphones instead of the head-set type? One reason is that it gives them something to do with their hands. So grab a pen and start taking notes. Or pick up that coffee cup and take a sip. It doesn’t matter what you hold onto, as long as it’s motivated. In other words, don’t just keep picking up and putting down an object over and over for no reason.
5)Breath slowly and deeply. When you’re nervous your mind starts to prepare your body for a fight or flight situation. Your muscles will need more oxygen, so your unconscious mind sends signals to your heart and lungs to kick it up a notch or twelve. Your pulse goes up and your breathing becomes more rapid. So deliberately start counting your own breaths. Let air in on a slow count of five and let it out with the same timing. Try to take in the air all the way down to the bottom of your torso. Breathing in this way will send a cascade of signals through your nervous system telling your brain it’s ok to slow down.
Have you ever wondered how some people can speak in public without being nervous? Here’s a secret. Most of them actually are nervous, at least at first. They just don’t look that way. They simply applied some of the techniques I just showed you. Practice and apply these techniques and, as an old television commercial used to say, you’ll “never let them see you sweat.”