Showing Confidence in a Conference Room
by Arundel Stevens
Starting out in a corporate workplace can be stressful for anyone! It’s important to build confidence and own your career. Gaining confidence in a work setting starts in the meeting room, which means that Step One is learning to be assertive.
In any setting, when practicing public speaking, it is important to prepare and practice attentive and assertive body language. This trick not only makes you appear more confident to your audience but also can trick your brain into making you feel more confident, too.
- Eye contact: Make direct eye contact with your audience when speaking, and keep your head up so that people can see your face! If your head is down or you nervously avoid eye contact, you won’t appear as confident.
- Posture: Maintain a straight and open posture while speaking. Even such a small change to your behavior can cause your audience to read your body language and note the change in demeanor. If you are leading a presentation, make sure to move around comfortably and address your audience directly. It helps to take a few steps in one direction and then return to your starting position. Taking a few steps can help you look natural without appearing nervous.
Before the meeting, determine your own stance on some of the topics that might arise. If you compose your thoughts before the conference, you will be more prepared, and feel more comfortable in discussion.
- Pace: Often, when someone is nervous, they tend to speak quicker. However, if you want to appear professional and put together, it’s important to speak at a level and even pace. Treat your contributions like a conversation, and try to keep the same natural pace, even when you are nervous.
- Eliminate Filler Words: Conversational phrases can be comfortable, but they tend to make your statements less professional and effective. For example, words such as “like,” “um,” or “you know” can easily slip into conversation, but they make your phrasing less effective. Instead, just take a second to pause and then continue without inserting these fillers.
Joining the Conversation
People care about what you have to say, even if you are echoing someone else’s idea. Don’t be afraid to add your input, even if you are just agreeing with someone else.
- Speak up early in the meeting. Often, if you wait until late in the meeting to insert your own thoughts, it can build anticipation and make your participation much more stressful. It may help to add your thoughts in the first few minutes of the meeting, so you aren’t worrying for the rest of the conference!
- Don’t undercut your own opinion! If you want people to take your opinions seriously, you have to start with appreciating your own viewpoints. Don’t neutralize your opinions with phrases like “maybe” or “…but I don’t know” or “…I could be wrong“. Be confident in your own assertions, and let yourself take credit for your own ideas.
Try out any or all of these tips and learn to own the meeting room! The most important takeaway is learning to ignore the imposter syndrome. Your opinions and input matter, and learning to value yourself and your ideas will make a difference in how people receive them.