Picture this: You walk alone into a party or a networking meeting or your boss's office, and you feel your butterflies begin doing their work. You fidget, push down on your sleeve, and begin to act nervous. In short, do the opposite of addressing people with confidence. It can be a nerve-racking thing walking into a room full of people who can judge you or addressing someone that's more higher-up than you, but if you constantly act like you're shrinking or are terribly uncomfortable, you'll only hold yourself back.
Not everyone is born with the super-suave gift of charisma or the boundless-like energy of an extroverted personality but you don't need those characteristics in order to speak to people with confidence. What you need is a change in habit, and an understanding of how body language can help you mask your jitters and show your enthusiasm. I know it sounds like black magic, but I promise you it's easy to achieve.
So the next time you walk into a bar sans your friend group, or speak up during a team meeting or pitch an idea, you'll 100 percent have this. Below are seven tips on how to address people with confidence!
1. Bat Away Any Negative Self Talk
Ever had that feeling where you walk into a crowded room of strangers (whether it be a bar, a networking event, or a party,) and thought "Oh no, no one's going to think I'm interesting." You see so many people you need to impress, and you immediately tense up with how you're going to bomb.
What you need to do in moments like those is bat away the negative self talk and replace it with affirmations. Instead of "I can't," replace the idea with "I can, because..." and list the reasons why you're about the charm the socks off of someone.
Self development site Mind Tools explained how to best succeed in this, "Your affirmations will be strongest if they are specific, are expressed in the present tense, and have strong emotional content." For example, "I can work this room because I'm interested in learning about other people's stories and I know how to ask the right questions." Just watch your confidence swoosh in after that.
2. Be Animated
If you're nervous or unsure, don't pretend the butterflies don't exist. Rather, use them to help you become animated while you talk, adding some excitement to your voice and gestures.
Inspirational speaker Nikki Stone told Huffington Post, "Playing up my emotions by really getting into the excitement of my story or working to honestly feel the disappointment I had experienced, I was able to mask the jitters. It's much easier to hide one emotion with another than it is to hide an emotion by suppressing it." People always appreciate an enthusiastic conversationalist, and it'll be a lot less stressful to approach people not having to pretend that you're cool and collected.
3. Don't Let Your Arms Just Hang There
Just like adding a pinch of excitement to your voice, using your body language to accent your convos helps you appear more confident. So don't let your arms just hand there, and definitely don't twist your hands in your lap. Instead, use them to help get your points across.
Jayson DeMers, founder of a content marketing agency and business writer from entrepreneur site Inc, said, "Gesticulation — the practice of using your hands and arms to punctuate or enhance your verbal statements — is another valuable body language strategy. Speakers who use body language actively in their presentation tend to be viewed as more confident and more authoritative than those who do not." So if you're nervous, use that energy to get your hands moving.
4. Watch How You're Standing
If you feel like your confidence is failing you as you approach a group of people to chat, fake it till you yourself believe you're suave and collected. And the easiest way to do that is to direct your body language towards a more powerful, self-assured stance. DeMers recommended, "Stand or sit up straight with your shoulders back, and keep your head held high. This will make you appear bigger and more confident, and will help you feel more confident as well." Just picture it in your mind: Will you feel more comfortable and composed hunched over with your arms clasped together, or standing tall with your shoulders back. The posture move will definitely rub off on you.
5. Believe In Your Purpose
Each of us have a purpose, whether it's what we do for a job, how we view the world, or how we like to treat people. So to come up to people with self confidence, believe in your purpose and let it shine through as you talk. It'll help animate your voice and your gestures, and will give you a self-assured, comfortable in your skin vibe.
Lifestyle writer Patrick Allan from Lifehack pointed out, "People with confidence and charisma also live with purpose. It's noticeable when you don't seem to have a mission or driving factor. You don't need to wear your passion on your sleeve, but you need to be confident in the notion that you're alive to do something."
For example, you can believe that the best thing about meeting people is learning about their stories or experiences, or that you really like connecting with people because of the lessons you learn from them. You can believe everybody is capable of kindness, or that you're curious and like to learn about others. Let those beliefs color the way you approach a person (confidently!) and the way your conversation goes.
6. Master The Art Of Question Asking
When you think about it, a conversation isn't about impressing the person you're chatting with with your life story. Rather, it's about getting them comfortable enough to settle in with you and share theirs. Knowing that, you can approach a conversation confidently because you know it's about making them relaxed and comfy, rather than you jumping through hoops to entertain.
Allan observed, "Think about talk show hosts. They're some of the most likable and charismatic people in the world—that's how they get those jobs. They're funny, but most of the time they do nothing but ask their guests questions, yet they come across as the lovable individual that's in control." Sounds easy enough, right?
7. Just Jump In!
In the end, you'll never become confident addressing people if you don't practice. Sure, the first couple of times could be a disaster, and you'll feel jitters every time you approach a new group. But the more times you do it, the less it'll seem novel and scary.
Stone shared, "You won't build confidence if you don't take action. Know that making yourself uncomfortable a couple times will help you feel more comfortable in the same situation forever after. The people who actually look the most awkward are the ones who are afraid to try."
So no more hovering — square your shoulders, chin up, and jump right in! You'll be charming and confident in no time.