How to Appear Confident – Even When You’re Not

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Fake it ‘til you make it.  When it comes to confidence, that’s pretty common advice.  But just what does it mean? Are there really ways you can appear confident, even when you are not?

And is this deceptive? Are you staying true to yourself if you are “faking it”?

Let’s explore a little deeper into the concept.

woman behind lectern with arms raised, looking confident

Is It Possible to Appear Confident When You Feel Anything But?

The simple truth is that no one feels confident all of the time. That’s because confidence is a skill, not an inherent trait.

Even the people who appear to be most confident have their moments of doubt.

There are always times in every life – no matter a person’s overall sense of confidence – that they feel that experience of shaking in their boots.

The difference is that some people have learned strategies to give the appearance of confidence, even when they are not feeling the least bit self-assured.

Is It Appropriate to “Fake” Confidence?

Why would we want to behave in a way that we are not feeling? Acting confident – behaving as if confidence comes naturally to you – can actually help you feel more confident!

We are not talking about being deceptive or ingenuine. This is about showing up as our best selves, even when we are fearful about doing so. It’s about standing tall, smiling when we are scared, and owning our space in the room.

It’s about getting the most out of an experience, so that we don’t just appear confident the next time – we feel it in our bones.

You might be on a date, have a job interview, or attending a company function. There are times it can be helpful to appear confident, even if you’re feeling anything but.

There are certain behaviors and mannerisms which we can all control which give the impression of greater confidence.  Practice these strategies until they become second nature, and you will have gone a long way to appear to be the most confident person in the room, even if you aren’t feeling that way inside!

Strategies to Give the Appearance of Confidence

Once you appear confident to others, you will see that these same behaviors eventually lead you to feel more confident. It’s a win-win situation.

Give yourself a pep talk

Repeat to yourself, “I am confident.”

Speak the words at your reflection in the mirror.  Write them down 10 times in a journal.  Print them in all caps on a post-it note, and hang it where you will see it constantly.  Even better, create a more complete affirmation by identifying what you are confident about.

“I am confident…

That I will ace this job interview.

There will be interesting people at this reception.

This date is going to be a lot of fun.

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There is nothing in this exercise class that I can’t handle.

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Marianne Williamson

Walk purposefully

Do you remember the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever, where John Travolta struts down the street like he owns it?  If you don’t remember it – go watch it again and learn from it! 

The way a person walks makes a powerful first impression. 

Learn to take purposeful strides.  Take long, clean steps while keeping an erect posture and arms relaxed at your sides.  Don’t shuffle or drag your feet.  Look in the direction you are headed, not at the ground.  The key is to look like you have someplace to go without looking like you need to get there in a hurry.

Helpful Hint: Consider your shoes. Can you stride comfortably in them? If not – switch them out! No one – absolutely no one – looks confident wobbling around on heels that are too high, or shuffling because their shoes don’t fit properly. Good shoes make for good steps.

woman in black suit walking confidently outdoors in city, how to act confident even when you're not

Stand and sit up straight

Confident people don’t slouch. Stand tall and proud. The same goes when you are sitting. People that lack confidence slouch in order to appear as small as possible. Picture the top of your head reaching toward the ceiling.  Relax your shoulders.

Keep your head up

There is nothing and no one interesting down on the floor.  Lift your chin and look around.  Focus your mind on absorbing all that is going on around you. 

Helpful Hint:  If you have trouble with holding your head up in a crowded room, concentrate on looking for hats.  Just a quick glance around the room counting any hats you see will automatically bring your gaze back up to where it should be.

Maintain good eye contact

Confident people look at the people they are speaking with. 

They don’t look at the floor or let their gaze wander around the room.   

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When in a conversation, look the other person in the eye. This isn’t a staring contest, but look the other person in the eye the majority of the time.  If you find this uncomfortable, look at the space between their eyes. 

Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do and, at some point, you will.”

Venus Williams
woman smiling and speaking confidently to a small group of others

Smile

You’re happy and confident, so smile. Smiling puts others at ease. It puts you at ease, too. 

You don’t need to put on a big, ingenuine smile. Just a gentle, casual smile to show that you are friendly and approachable.  Even if your mouth is covered by a mask, people will know you are smiling by the tone of your voice and the twinkle in your eye.

Control Your Body Language

Unfold your arms. Take your hands out of your pockets. Stop fidgeting.

When you fold your arms, it looks like you’re trying to protect yourself and keep others away. There’s nothing to fear, so unfold your arms, stand tall, and smile. Allow your arms to hang naturally by your side.

Showing your hands also shows confidence. Try to keep your hands where others can see them. Avoid picking at your clothes, your face, or your hands. This is a sure sign of nervousness.

So what do you do with your hands?  Gesture naturally when you’re speaking. Palms up and fingers relaxed and open with one or both hands.

Helpful Hint:  Wear special jewelry and get a manicure – if your hands look good, you’ll be less inclined to stuff them in your pockets.

shy woman with arms crossed and two friendly smiling women using hand gestures

Speak slowly and with care

When you’re feeling shy, you’re likely to speak too softly – or too loudly! 

Take care to speak at an appropriate level for the location you are in, and let your words vary in rhythm and cadence.

Eliminating Self-Sabotage

Does James Bond speak quickly? No. He takes his time and enjoys the attention.

Confident people have been shown to speak more slowly than the average person. Nervous people tend to speak more quickly. Slow down and take your time. People will assume you’re confident when your words sound that way.

Share the spotlight

Confident people are happy to share the center ring. They like to give attention as much as they receive it. They want others to be as comfortable in any situation as they are.

Make an effort to really listen to what others are saying, ask questions, and support the conversation. Allow the focus to be on someone other than you. Taking an interest in those around you helps distract you from your concerns about your self-confidence, while offering you the opportunity to get to know and celebrate someone else.

Helpful Hint: Think about some good conversational questions ahead of time that you can use to help someone else feel more confident. People will appreciate your interest!

Read More About Confidence:

Final Thoughts on How to Always Appear Confident – Even When You’re Not

You can convince others that you’re feeling confident, even if you’re not. Learn to adopt the mannerisms of someone that is confident, and you’ll look confident to the rest of the world.

  • Give yourself a pep talk
  • Walk purposefully
  • Stand and sit up straight
  • Keep your head up
  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Smile
  • Control your body language
  • Speak slowly and with care
  • Share the Spotlight

Once these strategies become second nature, you’ll realize that they start to feel very natural. You won’t be “faking it” any more. Don’t be surprised when your confidence blossoms just because you’ve learned a few helpful techniques. Nothing will hold you back!

woman striding confidently in street on way to meeting

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1 thought on “How to Appear Confident – Even When You’re Not”

  1. Great tips, I particularly like the hat one! I have to speak publicly in my job on a pretty much daily basis. Even now though I still sometimes feel unconfident. Purposefully slowing down and smiling help me most (although masks have proved a challenge!)

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