8 Ways to Project Confidence, Even When You're Not Feeling It

It happens to the best of us: We work long hours on a project and feel confident about our ideas — until the day of the presentation, when we turn into a turtle who doesn’t want to come out of her shell. Whether nerves and anxiety are to blame or you’re just having an off day, the key is to fake it till you make it. Turns out, the old adage actually works: Research shows that imitating confidence can trick others into thinking you’re self-assured, and it leads to true confidence and competence. Read on for more smart ways to feel confident — especially on days you feel anything but.

1. Put Things in Perspective Oftentimes, we get worked up about a situation and miss the big picture, which messes with our confidence, says Blake Eastman, founder of The Nonverbal Group, a Manhattan-based consulting firm that offers body language classes for business leaders. Ask yourself: If I bomb this meeting or interview, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Reminding yourself that you’re not in a life-threatening situation (i.e., no one’s holding you at gunpoint) will help calm your nerves and boost your confidence.

2. Chat With a Stranger Talking to yourself about how nervous you are will only make you feel worse. Before an important meeting, Eastman tells his clients to walk up to every hot dog or halal cart in a five-block radius and have a one-minute conversation with each vendor. Doing this gets you out of your head and into the present moment. Don’t live in a big city? Chat with the barista at a local coffee shop or simply talk to a few coworkers (about non-work-related things) before your big meeting.

3. Act Without Hesitation When it comes to projecting confidence, it’s important to appear decisive. “I call this making A to B movements, meaning there’s no hesitation between the decision to act and the action itself,” Eastman explains. “The more hesitant you are, the less confident you’ll appear.” So to project confidence, quit all your hemming and hawing!