Have you ever needed to appear confident, when inside you felt the exact opposite? Were you always worried that people could see right through you?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could make people think you’re confident, even when you’re a bundle of caffeine-fuelled nerves?
Research at Harvard Business School found that just adopting postures that portrayed confidence, prepared people to cope better in stressful situations.
So let’s get started. Who better to show you how to act confidently than people who act for a living. Yup, actors. (That’s me!) Sharing these practical tips that actors actually use will help give you that extra boost at times you need it.
Take up space (and don’t apologise for it!)
- Stand and move in a way that means you can always be seen. Sit on the chair at the front of the room, or stand in front of your classroom desk rather than behind.
- Never enter or exit a room apologetically, or try to hide while doing so. You work there because you were the best for the job, so don’t question it.
Literally, take up more space as you go through your day. Here's how:
- Stand with weight balanced evenly on both legs.
- Gesture with wide arms.
- Move around the entire space, don’t stick to a corner.
- Keep your eyes up.
- Lean forward in your chair.
- Avoid crossing your arms or legs, if possible.
All these will suggest you have nothing to hide and imply you are confident in your abilities. (Even if you’re not. They don’t need to know that!)
Keep an upright posture
- Imagine you have two cords coming out of your body like this:
- ...and these cords are pulling you upwards and forwards from those points, as you move through your day.
- Throughout the day, regularly remind yourself you are being pulled by these cords.
Portraying an upright posture, even if you are tired or stressed, will imply you’re still in control.
Control your voice
- Speed. Be conscious of the speed at which you speak. Do you choose your words, or stumble over them? Taking your time when speaking suggests you are confident in your words, and if you are careful with your words, others will be careful to listen.
- Pitch. Higher pitched voices are often associated with lower status. When stressed, pitch of voice can also rise, so be conscious to keep your voice relaxed, and low. The ‘Aaahh’ you make when collapsing on the sofa is generally a good starting point!
Control your breathing
- Stop. When you’re stressed your breath will be shallower. (Put your hand on your chest; if it is moving up and down, your breathing is shallow.) Stop, take a deep breath and hold if for 5 seconds to reset yourself.
- Deeper breathing. Concentrate on breathing using your stomach. Put your hand on your tummy, making sure it moves in and out with your breathing. This will deepen your breathing.
- Slow down. Count 5 seconds to breathe in, and 5 to breathe out. Keep doing this even if you feel panicky. It will fool your body into thinking you are calmer and your mind will soon follow.
Others will unconsciously pick up on your slower breathing and think you’re calmer too.
- When we are confident or victorious we instinctively raise our arms in the air, or stand with hands on hips, legs apart. A bit like Superman.
- Research shows that holding a these poses when not feeling confident, causes the body, and consequently the brain, to believe you are confident because you’ve done it before - when you were confident. Make sense? Hope so.
- Hold the 'superman' pose, or the arms-in-the-air 'victory' pose, for two minutes before doing something nerve-wracking. (Ideally in the bathroom where no one can see you!) Yes you’ll feel silly, but who cares?
- If you don’t want to try that (though I can attest that it does work!) you can also listen to a song that evokes feelings of strength and confidence. Listen to it as many times as you need throughout the day.
There are many more ways to portray confidence, and fool others into thinking you know what you’re doing as well as yourself! This is just a crash course, and only scratches the surface of what you can learn to convey confidence. It’s not gospel, but I can guarantee if you try, even if you think it’ll never work, at least you’ll have the knowhow, ready for when you do need it.
5 Ways to Trick Your Class Into Learning
12 Tips for an Inclusive Classroom Environment
Tips for teachers moving to a new year group