When your job includes regular presentations, pitches, or even just high-stakes meetings, going to work can become incredibly stressful. Luckily, the practice and experience this brings help lower the stress level as such events become less intimidating and begin to feel par for the course. If you’re still having trouble shaking the jitters, though, here are a few tips to increase confidence in the conference room.

Power Poses

Yes, we know it sounds odd, but standing with your hands on your hips or straight and tall with your shoulders back not only convinces your audience that you know your stuff but also helps you become more confident. Even if you feel ridiculous doing so, research shows that adopting a power pose psychologically affects your brain and allows for more success in settings such as public speaking gigs or even job interviews. Standing with an open posture and generally avoiding any pose that makes your body smaller (i.e. crossing your legs with your hands clasped in your lap) increases your odds of success, whether you adopt the position during your “speech” or simply do so in private for a few minutes beforehand. Posing like Supergirl in a bathroom stall before a big presentation sounds ridiculous, but has been proven to help.

Dress to Impress

As the song goes, “the pinstripes are all that they see”– dress and act like you know what you’re doing and people often believe you do. In your case, this tip obviously doesn’t translate to “wearing a nice suit replaces plenty of practice and research,” but dressing to impress does boost your audience’s confidence in you and your confidence in yourself. The alternative– a sloppy, careless appearance– certainly wouldn’t do you any favors. Show your audience you take the task seriously and respect the environment you’re in. Dress your best to signal your brain that it’s go time. Sometimes a reminder that you’re not sitting at home rehearsing in your sweatpants on the couch can be a positive kind of adrenaline.

When You Rehearse…

“Practice makes perfect” may be the common phrase, but “practice makes performance” is often more accurate. Rehearse the way you wish to present and you’ll have fewer problems. Avoid backtracking when you make mistakes and move forward and adapt as you would if the presentation were real. This increases your confidence on the day of as you can be secure in the knowledge that even if something goes wrong, you’re capable of getting back on track. Also think ahead to pinpoint any trouble points, whether in your presentation or in the audience’s reaction. There’s no need to obsessively plan for every possible outcome, but knowing you have an idea of how to address pushback or confusion will put your mind at ease.

We hope these tips will help increase your confidence the next time you step into a conference room!

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