3 ways tackle your Insecurity and Boost your Confidence
A lot of people feel uncomfortable or emberrased when they have to speak when others are watching them. Some feel mildly awkward, others are afraid to the point of getting a black-out. The speaking situation can be in a meeting (at the office), pitching to a client, presenting something to an audience, taping yourself on camera or even just a in a personal conversation.
Some prefer to shrink or hide, fear they go blank or freeze - until that actually happens. Others feel so insecure they start to stutter and blush, and have shivers going up and down their spine.
So if you recognize this, know that you’re not alone.
And what’s definitely even better to know: you can do something about it!
I was so delighted when I (with my huge fear of public speaking & cameras) discovered a method that was both easy and effective, so I could feel confident and at ease when speaking to others and in front of a camera.
Here are 3 tips that help you feel more confident:
1. Center yourself
When you are in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, uncertain or even paralyzed, chances are that your mind is taking over. It’s adding to the uncertainty and the stress by going round in circles with negative thoughts:
- what are they thinking of me?
- nobody wants to hear what I have to say!
- they will discover I’m a fraud/incompetent!
- am I making a mistake?
- what if they don’t like me?!
- ......(and maybe you can add your own here too)
These thoughts are not helping, in fact they are distracting you from the connection with your audience, whether that is one person or a group.
So if you take time to leave that ‘headbubble’, where all this is going on and focus on your center, you’ll feel more confident immediately.
Your center lies about 7cm below the navel, inside the body. It may feel a bit odd at the beginning, that there can be a change when you merely shift your attention. But over and over again we see the immediate shifts in people that do this.
They feel more at ease and have a better connection with their audience because they are not distracted by ‘things’ that go on in their head and are most of the time not even true. A way to do this, is to imagine a pearl or flame at that point (below your navel) in your body, as it’s easier to focus on something concrete. Try it out now, so you can easily shift your attention out of your head when you need to.
Extra Tip: if you find it hard to locate this point, or the traction from your ‘headbubble’ is too strong, I often advice to place your attention between your feet. That takes it out of your head for sure!
If you are fixated on a presentation or talk, and want it definitely to go a certain way, with all the specific and right words, there is less flexibility and adequacy to handle what is coming. On the other hand, when you’re curious, that leaves room for anything to happen, without it getting you off balance at once.
You can be curious how the presentation will go, who the people in the audience are, how long it will take you to deliver your talk… Just wonder when you walk into the room: “how will it go today?”
Extra tip: Make sure it doesn’t come from a place of fear, just be open and curious what might happen. Nothing’s set in stone, and it will unfold in a way you can handle. Trust that. By letting go of this need to do it perfect, you feel more ‘in charge’ and confident during the event.
When speaking to others, our voice is an important instrument, as is our body. Sometimes, when we are scared in our situation, our body contracts or shrinks, other times our voice gets squeaky or shrill. There is so much tension in our body or in our larynx (our voice uses muscles too!) that we appear uncertain and feel self-conscious. A perfect way to break through this barrier is to breathe. Because breathing is a physical movement of ease and flow, it relaxes the body, the voice muscles and the mind.
There’s all kinds of scientific evidence (in Forbes they wrote an article on this) that deep breathing (in through the nose, out through the mouth) activates the parasympatic nervous system, which is the counterpart of the sympatic nervous system (your stress/fight/flight response). And when you body relaxes, your voice sounds natural and your mind goes at ease as well.
So even if this might be the easiest tip of all, it is very effective!
Extra tip: a lot of people learned an opposite movement. The natural way to breathe deep is to have your belly expand when you breathe in (like a balloon filling with air), and go flat when you breathe out. Just watch children or animals to see how they do this naturally. When we sleep, our body turns to this way of breathing too. If you notice you’re movement is the other way around, practice it every day!
Elsewine Rietveld, former deer in the headlights when it came to public speaking and camera appearance, teaches entrepreneurs and professionals how to speak with self-confidence and impact in all their conversations, presentations and on video. She has a range of online courses that you can take. For increasing your presence, impact and charisma and making videos that are authentic and touch your audience.