There are no shortcuts to career success – but there are plenty of things you can do to give yourself a fairer shot.
Not least among these is to work on your confidence levels. Make no mistake, confidence is an important asset in many professional roles – but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on opportunities just because your self-belief does not match up to your skills and intelligence in other areas.
For this reason, you can do yourself a big favour by learning and practising how to give the impression of self-confidence ahead of interviews, meetings, and other professional encounters. And the great thing is, when you start to behave outwardly with more self-assurance, your inner belief will start to grow, too.
The eyes have it
What is it that you’re afraid of when you resist looking in the eyes of a figure of authority? Well, eyes communicate a lot – and it isn’t always something that can be translated into words. What is clear, however, is that refusing to make eye contact is perceived as a sign of fear and can lead to mistrust and miscommunication. And whatever it is you’re hiding from, looking the other way is no better a hiding place than burying your head in the sand.
The need to avert our eyes in such circumstances is kind of instinctive, but it’s worth taking a deep breath and concentrating on looking up and holding your gaze. You can vary your look between the other person’s eyes and mouth. Always be sure to look up when it’s you that’s talking. Refer to notes if it helps you to take a break, but make sure to swing your gaze back up promptly.
Say it like you mean it
You might be the smartest guy in the room, but if you hesitate, mumble, or pose your statements as questions, your audience is going to reckon your knowledge is founded on shaky ground.
Learning to project your voice can take a whole course (and it’s maybe worth it if this is a particular trouble spot for you) but in brief, try to find you voice way down in your diaphragm rather than in your head or chest. In a presentation or interview, speak a bit louder than you normally would – this should help counter the tendency to trail off.
And don’t neglect your hands. Hiding them in your pockets will make you appear less confident or over-casual. Use your open palms to express your points, and if you’re nervous about what to do with your hands then clasp them together or rest them on your leg.
These three elements can change your interview game overnight. This visual guide to creating confidence with body language is a useful tool for a bit of last-minute tuning. Now take a deep breath, stand tall, and go give it your best handshake!