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Building self-confidence

A lot of people fear speaking in public, whether it is giving a speech, a toast at your friend’s wedding, or being called on in class.

People Management Issues Robert Mandeya

Fortunately, you can reduce anxiety when speaking in public by preparing yourself practically and psychologically. It may never be your favourite thing, but you will be far less likely to throw up in front of your audience.

Emerging research points to adopting a positive outlook in whatever venture you want to embark on. Being optimistic means seeing the positive side of things and expecting a positive outcome. From the quietly confident doctor whose advice we rely on, to the charismatic confidence of an inspiring speaker, self-confident people have qualities that everyone admires.

Self-confidence is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives, yet so many people struggle to find it.

Sadly, this can be a vicious circle: people who lack self-confidence can find it difficult to become successful.

After all, most people are reluctant to back a project that is pitched by someone who appears to be nervous, fumbles, and is overly apologetic. On the other hand, you might be persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, holds his or her head high, answers questions assuredly and readily admits when he or she does not know something.

Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success.

The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned and built on. And, whether you are working on your own confidence or building the confidence of people around you, it is well worth the effort.

How confident are you?

Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behaviour, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on. There are certain cues that betray a lack of confidence in anyone which you must look out. Which thoughts or actions do you recognise in yourself and people around you which indicate a lack of confidence?

What is self-confidence?

Two main things contribute to self-confidence: self-efficacy and self-esteem. We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas.

This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we will succeed; and it is this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.

This overlaps with the idea of self esteem, which is a more general sense that we can cope with what is going on in our lives, and that we have a right to be happy. Partly, this comes from a feeling that the people around us approve of us, which we may or may not be able to control. However, it also comes from the sense that we are behaving virtuously, that we are competent at what we do, and that we can compete successfully when we put our minds to it.

Building self-confidence

So how do you build this sense of balanced self-confidence, founded on a firm appreciation of reality? The bad news is that there is no quick fix or five-minute solution.

The good news is that becoming more confident is readily achievable, just as long as you have the focus and determination to carry things through. And what is even better is that the things you will do to build your self-confidence will also build success — after all, your confidence will come from real, solid achievement. No-one can take this away from you! The ability to present yourself and your information is a critical management and leadership skill.

In fact, “executive presence” accounts for about 26% of what it takes to get promoted, and this has nothing to do with your technical skills or expertise.

“Executive presence” is the ability to project gravitas (substance), confidence and poise under pressure. It includes the ability to speak and present with assertiveness and influence. This aspect develops the confidence and competence to speak and present at local, regional and international meetings so that ideas will be understood and respected.

There are confidence-building coaching sessions we often subject participants to and these have helped many people deal with their confidence gaps. No matter what your self-confidence level is right now, you can probably improve it.

But you need to believe in yourself and your capabilities before anyone else will.

We often subject participants to sessions which start on self reflective exercises ultimately launching someone in a journey to build his or her self-confidence.

Mandeya is a an executive coach in human capital development and corporate education, a certified life coach in leadership and professional development at the Institute of Leadership Research and Development. You can contact him on lead.inst.dev@gmail.com, mandeyarobert@gmail.com

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