When we step in front of a room full of our peers, colleagues, heroes and admirers, the most important thing is cool. We are using the word cool in two ways. First, we have to be calm and collected. We have to keep our cool. Second, we want to exude a kind of irresistible charm. This is a different kind of cool. Now we’re enrolled in the Arthur Fonzarelli, James Dean, Samuel L. Jackson school of cool. In fact, although we are using the same word, we’re discussing two distinct, unique ideas: confidence and charisma.
Although people sometimes use these words interchangeably, they are actually two different things. In fact, one is the foundation of the other, though having the first doesn’t necessarily guarantee the second. For our purposes, confidence is an internal state, while charisma is a learned, practiced, and mastered skill-set.
When we’re feeling insecure, a confident person seems almost superhuman in their ability to be calm, collected and, well, you know, cool. However, the fact is confident people have the same shortcomings and worries as anyone else. In fact, they don’t know how to rise above them anymore than you do. What confident people have mastered isn’t perfection, it’s the ability to be comfortable in their own skin despite their imperfections.
Developing confidence is largely a matter of being willing to take a long, hard, realistic look at yourself, and learning to like what you see. At that point you’ve begun to acquire the personal power and self esteem you’ll need to eliminate your negatives, accentuate your positives, and learn to love yourself more every day. Before you know it, everyone will be asking you “what’s your secret?”
- Identify your insecurities. Be realistic and honest, and write them down.
- Don’t ever allow yourself to believe you are inferior to anyone. That stops today! That stops right now!
- Be open with your friends and family. Let them know that you’re struggling with your confidence. By doing this, you will find courage with – and gather support from – the closest people in your life. Can you feel your power growing just thinking about it?
- Laugh in the face of perfection. Nobody is perfect.
- Be grateful and count your blessings. Fill yourself with wonder at all the great things, people, and opportunities you have in your life and there will be no room for insecurities.
- When you don’t feel confident – fake it! You’ll be surprised how pretending to be confident can quickly become the real thing.
- Help others! They say there’s no teacher like teaching. Help that shy guy at the office or that quiet lady at the conference to open up and discover their confidence. You’ll be doing a good deed, and you’ll be reinforcing all of these lessons for yourself!
Once you’ve established a base of confidence, you can move on to your advanced studies in charisma. If confidence is a lightsaber, then charisma is the Jedi Fighting System. Charisma is what you do with it once you’ve got it. Charisma without real confidence is just cocky. It might get you a number at a bar, but it won’t get you to second base. Step up to the plate with charisma and real confidence, and you’ll be swinging for the bleachers every time.
Here are the basics:
- Learn to relax. Maintaining a loose body and a clear mind will help you stay settled in your hard-earned confidence.
- Get in touch with your emotions. Artists are always trying to convey their emotional states in a way that will recreate those same feelings in their audiences. You have the opportunity to speak to your audience directly! Speak from your heart!
- Speak with conviction and match your body language and expressions to what you are saying. This tends to be a natural side effect of staying in touch with your emotions, however, honing this skill can be time well-spent.
- Think before you speak. Taking time to gather your thoughts can actually draw your audience in. Don’t be afraid of a little silence. Use it!
- Treat your audience as equals – don’t pander or patronize. Listen attentively to their questions and compliment their contributions. Respect them and they’ll love you.