Speakers, by the very nature of what they do, are influential. One of the keys to influence is confidence. And, if you read my book … or even the Table of Contents on this blog … you know that being confident is one of the Public Speaking Super Powers!
Confidence is attractive. It draws people to you. This is why it is an important quality of influence and leadership. And, it is one of the top three qualities of an effective speaker.
Confidence Is Learnable
There is no confidence gene. People are not born with confidence. Confidence is developed as we grow and learn. It evolves as we have positive and negative experiences and through our perceptions of those experiences. And, because it is learned, lack of confidence can also be unlearned. In other words, you can rewire your mind to be more confident if you’ve had experiences that have knocked you down.
Here are three things you can do to grow your confidence, and therefore your influence.
Grow Confidence Through Learning
Knowledge is power. It gives you the power to answer questions. It gives you authority and expertise. So, learn all you can learn about the area in which you want to increase your confidence. For example, I have had an interest in public speaking since High School. Since my teens, I’ve been a student of communication. I’ve taken classes. I’ve read books. I’ve joined several Toastmasters clubs for the opportunity to practice and hone my skill. And I interviewed more than more than 85 speaking experts for my book Public Speaking Super Powers, and continue to do so for this blog and its associated podcast. When it comes to speaking, I am confident.
Do I know everything there is to know about speaking? No. But I do know a lot and have developed a level of expertise and authority on the topic.
What topic can you learn more about to boost your confidence in that area?
Grow Confidence Through Planning
When you don’t know where you are going, it is hard to be confident. For many, many people, trying to wing it or go with the flow is the best way to undermine their confidence. So, define the result you want to create and then develop a plan of action to get you there. For example, I create an outline for every presentation I give. I start with my call to action—what do I want the audience to do at the end of my speech—and work my way back from there. I don’t feel the need to know every single word of the speech, but having a map in mind gives me the confidence I need to speak effectively.
When it comes to larger tasks, for example, a workshop or online course, the process is slightly more detailed. Again, I start with the end in mind and work backward. But now I establish goals and milestones, breaking a large project into a series of smaller, doable tasks.
Grow Confidence Through Being Open to a Change in Plans
You know what they say about the best-laid plans, right? Well, life happens. Accidents happen. Unexpected things happen. So, sometimes you have to adjust your plans. Part of confidence is knowing when something isn’t working and having the courage to make adjustments.
Don’t worry about how others will react to your change of plans. When you make changes as they need to be made, rather than trying desperately sticking to a plan that is not working, you will not lose face. In fact, when you make the decision to change plans, you are actually illustrating your confidence. No one can be right 100 percent of the time.
For example, last year, I decided to switch the Public Speaking Super Powers podcast to a video podcast that I would put out twice a month. Because my life is what my life is, that plan fell apart very quickly. So, as of this year, I’m going back to the audio-only format. This is the only way I can remain consistent with my desired output without overwhelming myself. Basically, I’m making a course adjustment as I recognize the need to.
Growing Confidence Increases Influence
Confidence fosters influence. As you build your confidence, you will find that your influence grows, as well. Also, keep in mind that influence comes is a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You can have an influence in the areas of
- Yourself — Are you able to influence your actions? Or are you simply reacting instinctively?
- Your romantic partner – Does your significant other honor your opinions, thoughts, and feelings?
- Your circle of family and friends – Do those whom you love respect you and your opinions?
- Your work or business life – Are you seen as an expert? Are you recognized in your space? Are you respected by your colleagues?
Confidence and influence are a journey, not a destination. It takes commitment and time. And it takes patience and courage. But, if you’ve read this far, I know you have it in you!