We’ve all seen it - those budding entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den who stride into the room like Alan Sugar, only to break down into a quivering, quaking mass of nerves ten minutes later. It’s easy to have a giggle at them until you’re facing your own big pitch, your own potentially life changing job interview or presentation and you start to feel the anxiety rush in like a tidal wave. Having the confidence to get up in front of other people and sell yourself is not easy, but it is necessary for success in the business world.
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There are thousands of manuals and courses that a person can read or take to improve their self confidence. Most work on the idea that you should learn how to ‘fake it’ until it becomes real - a good plan only until you remember that you’re faking it and the demons all rush back in. It’s those courses that teach stable, long lasting personality skills that are the most valuable - courses that work by drawing out a person’s good attributes and using them to support his or her weaknesses, like that offered at www.speak-first.com. Here are some of the confidence building tips and tricks that they might teach you.
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When it comes to building confidence in your business skills, it can be useful to have an established set of long and short term goals to refer back to. That way, you have a physical checklist of all that you can achieve and all that you have achieved once all of the goals have been completed. MBA Vault expert Carol Munywoli suggests that you make your goals challenging but not unobtainable - the trick is to be honest with yourself about what you can do but but won’t usually let yourself. For example, if you’re not comfortable making sales calls, set yourself the small goal of 10 successful calls a day and then increase it as you realise how easy an initial goal it was to achieve. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself with a little gift, a night out or a fancy meal if you know that you have overcome an important hurdle.
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Always Be Prepared
If you feel like you’ve been thrown into the ring without boxing gloves - you’re going to panic. If you’re not confident about your ad-libbing skills, never ever turn up to a business situation unprepared. You don’t want to be holding a script in front your face, but you want to know exactly what you’re going to contribute, says Inc magazine journalist Barry Farber. If it’s a big meeting you’re nervous about, think it over the night before - who is likely to be there, what they’re likely to say, what useful questions you can ask and how you can answer the questions that you know will come up.
When it comes to day to day business affairs, make sure that you’re a strong all-rounder. If there’s a particular skill or ability that you don’t have or could improve upon, take some steps towards achieving it. Find a class, read a book on the subject, even ask a more experienced friend or colleague for help.
This is a difficult step but it will get easier as your confidence in yourself begins to grow. In the business world it’s important to be opinionated. Board meetings, offices and conference rooms all over the world are full of strong-willed, single minded individuals who will share their opinion with everybody else if it kills them. You’re going to need to able to compete with them, whilst remaining polite, modest and pleasant to be around. The key here is to just be honest- don’t be a ‘yes’ man, don’t repeat what others have said if you don’t agree and don’t be afraid to change your mind about something if you can adequately explain why.
Remember - the fact that you’re there in a conference meeting in the first place means that other people value your opinions. Keep reminding yourself that nothing bad comes from speaking out in a business situation - if anything it will make you look calm, collected and extremely able.
Soul For Breakfast blogger Lisa Lai points out that confidence building does take time. Don’t be disappointed with yourself if you implement these steps and don’t see an immediate change. The only real limitation is you - so the faster you realise just how easy it is to banish fear, the faster you’ll become that big, bad business boffin you’ve always dreamt of being.