How can I boost my confidence at work?
Everyone gets nervous at times. Even when I’m feeling super-chilled about a big meeting or a speaking gig, I always get butterflies just before I go on. But after doing so many of these nerve-racking events, I’ve picked up a few confidence-boosting techniques.
First, I think of what has almost become my life mantra: know your shit. When we think about why women have such big barriers to entry in the workplace (and, well, in life), confidence is always listed as the No 1 reason. But I believe that women are perfectly capable of thinking highly of themselves; it’s just that they think they don’t know enough. This undermines their self-worth, and in turn erodes their confidence.
Before a big meeting, read the agenda properly, research what people are talking about, have a clear point of view. Of course, sometimes, even when I feel prepared, Imposter Syndrome still sets in. A line replays in my head, causing my heart to beat faster: “What do I know?! Why would anyone listen to me?”
I’ve learned to reprogramme myself, almost like pulling the plug on a giant whirring conveyor belt of self-loathing. I give myself a pep talk: “You did this, you set up that, you have intimate knowledge of this market, you’ve read this theory, done this research.” It calms me and gets me in the zone. I know stuff, and people want to hear it.
There are some logistical and practical things that can help. If you’re giving a presentation, however big or small, then give yourself some time beforehand. Make sure your slides are ready, check the venue, request the audience list (if applicable) and dress in something that makes you feel quietly powerful. Preparation is key. Be one step ahead and you’ll be walking on air.
• Sharmadean Reid is the founder of WAH Nails and beautystack.com
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