When you speak in front of others, which signal are you sending to your listeners — that you are confident or that you’re not? And, why does this matter?
When people don’t have confidence in you, they likely don’t have confidence in the information you’re sharing. So, how are you going to demonstrate confidence, especially when you lack it? One way is through your stance.
But before we get into how you can demonstrate confidence through your stance, let’s take a look at some of the things you don’t want to do — some of the things that send the wrong signals.
When people are nervous, they tend to make themselves smaller. This includes pulling their shoulders to the front and inward, bending over slightly, and bringing their legs together. Think … making yourself a smaller target. It doesn’t exude confidence, does it?
Another common confidence-crushing stance is standing relatively straight but crossing your legs at the ankle. When we get very nervous, our brain encourages us to protect our vital organs, and being very nervous is the message this stance sends.
Perhaps the most common ineffective stance is standing on one hip. When I ask people why they’re standing that way, they often respond by saying it’s comfortable. I know they honestly believe that, but how do we know it isn’t necessarily true? Right! In 30 seconds, they switch to the other hip.
Those are three ways you do not want to stand. Now let’s discuss how you want to stand so you can demonstrate confidence. If you can, stand up now and give this a try.
First, place your feet about hip-width apart, weight centered. Great! However, don’t lock your knees into place; you want them to be flexible, letting your entire body relax.
Now, imagine a thing is attached to the top of your head, pulling up slightly. If you took dance classes, you’ve probably heard this before. This aligns your body vertically. Remember, it’s slightly pulling up. You don’t want to make your body rigid. Keep it relaxed and flexible.
As a result, your shoulders square off a bit, and your chest opens. Not only is this a confident look, but it also helps you breathe more deeply and slowly. This, in turn, helps calm you. And when you’re calmer, you are more confident. And when you’re more confident, you exude that confidence.
Now that you know why you want to learn to have a confident stance, you must practice it. And if the only time you practice it is when you’re speaking, it won’t become second nature.
So, here are a few times outside of speaking where you can get used to standing this way. First, when pumping gas into your car, look at everyone else. They’ll be either on one hip or leaning against their cars. You can tell they want to be anywhere else but there. You, however, can stand with feet hip-width apart and your weight centered.
If you live in New Jersey, Oregon, or another locale that prohibits you from pumping your own gas, stand this way each time you’re at the register in the supermarket. Similar times include at the pharmacy, bank teller’s window, or retail stores.
Now that you know why, how, and where to practice, use your stance to convey confidence. You’ll be able to see from where you’re standing that your audience has more confidence in you and in what you’re saying.
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