A "big" meeting, the all-or-nothing presentation to a prospective client, or an important one-on-one with "The Boss" -- We've all been there, and we've all had those moments of self-doubt and panic at work. As a College Admissions & Career Transition Strategist, I often speak to my clients about confidence. Here are a few quick tips I often recommend:
1) The Key to Confidence is Preparation. When you've "done your homework" and are well prepared for your meeting or presentation, you can be confident that you are ready to face any challenge that comes your way. Be sure to:
- Know Your Audience - Who are they? What company, position(s), background(s) do they have? What are their priorities, values and goals?
- Know Your Goal - What are your priorities, values and goals? Identify in advance what you are looking to achieve through the interaction. What is the most important thing to convey? What is the most important thing you must collect?
- Know Your Stuff - Be prepared with your agenda, required research/background material, deliverables, resources, etc... Anticipate the needs and questions of the other party (based on the assessment of their priorities, values and goals), and do the necessary research to impress them with your preparedness and thoughtful answers.
- Know Yourself - Consider what habits, routines, environments, power outfit and/or lucky medallions put you most at ease. Then build in time and make the necessary accommodations to set yourself up for success!
2) It's OK to Not Know - Expertise isn't innate, it's earned. Another key to confidence is being OK with the unknown and with not knowing. Rest assured - No one has all of the answer, all of the time.
If you are caught off-guard with a question or situation that is unknown or that you didn't prepare for, just remember that anything you don't know, you can learn! A professional becomes an expert only with years of hard work and learning after not having the answers.
Rather than feeling flustered and letting should-haves and self-doubt overtake the situation, take a deep breath, then reply calmly and confidently, "Wow! That's a great question. I don't have the answer right now, but let me pull the information after this meeting and get back to you." --- Then be sure to follow up!
3) Remember: You are Human...and your boss/colleague/client is too! We all make mistakes. Don't let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from rising to a professional challenge or putting yourself forward for new opportunities. Be confident in yourself. Prepare (see point 1) and then do your best (see point 2). If you make a mistake, own it, apologize (if the situation warrants it), and move on!
"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." ―Theodore Roosevelt
4) Strike a Pose! Even though some studies have questioned its validity, I still absolutely love Amy Cuddy's TED Talk on Power Posing. Whether it really alters your body chemistry or simply provides a placebo confidence boost, many of my clients, students - and even myself - have found the two minute technique to provide an extra shot of calm and confidence. So why not? (It certainly doesn't hurt!)
Life's short. Be confident, and don't stand in the way of your own success. Put your best foot forward, and take one small step at a time toward rocking that meeting, slam dunking that client pitch, and making your professional dreams come true!