Remember when you were in high school or college and you had to take a public speaking class? Some of the most extroverted kids in the class were concerned about getting up to make a speech.
But after the first one, it got a little easier. I’m an introvert, and even I felt more comfortable by the time our class got to debate.
Bigger than your personality
A lot of people attribute outspokenness and confidence to being an extrovert. While extroverts certainly do seem more capable of public speaking and being the center of attention, many introverts train themselves to be able to stand up and work the crowd or give a presentation.
It’s not about your personality, but about confidence.
Learning social skills
Think about one person who has the same confidence you’d like to have.
Don’t compare yourself to that person, just think about how he or she got to that place in life.
Jimmy Fallon didn’t just step out onto the stage to become “The Tonight Show” host. It took years of practice and branding. Don’t think that charisma is born.
The icons we look up to were once insecure and full of self-doubt.
To be socially confident, you should learn some specific skills:
- Being confident in your body language, displaying poise even when you feel inadequate.
- The ability to listen and connect with those around you, or building rapport with your audience.
- Staying calm when you are nervous. When you exhibit anxiety, people around you won’t relax.
- The ability to focus on the topic rather than how you are being perceived.
How I learned to be more confident
Social skills aren’t automatic, but you can learn. I have two things that really helped me. First, I joined our local Lions Club.
Talking to other professionals has really helped me come out of my shell.
But where I really found my voice was in volunteering.
By working with vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or in the prison ministry, I learned how to portray confidence.
It’s not about feeling self-important, but more about a feeling of knowing that these people are counting on you to give good information. If I don’t sound confident in what I’m saying, how can I help them?
Not always perfect
I still get tongue-tied. The other day at Lions Club, I ended up at the same table with one of the state representatives, his wife, and the COO of Cherokee Nation Entertainment.
I thought it might appear rude if I got up and moved, so I sat there.
When I did say something, I was able to look the person in the eyes and sound confident. Inside, I felt completely out of my element. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to even fake confidence.
Riding the learning curve
At the end of the day, confidence can be an inherent character trait or it can be a learned one. Whether it is turning exuding confidence into a game or wearing your lucky socks, figure out what helps your confidence then use it.