Join Jeff Ansell for an in-depth discussion in this video Making fake confidence real, part of Communicating with Confidence.
- Ever hear the expression that sometimes the worst thing that can happen to you turns out to be the best thing that happened to you? After my handful of panic attacks live on the air, I learned how to breathe properly, and the problem went away, but not for good. It came back, one more time. It happened when I was invited to be one of two keynote speakers at a convention in Texas. I flew into George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston only to discover that the other keynote speaker was former President George H.W. Bush.
Never before had I shared a stage with a president. I was nervous. Now, a little nervousness is fine and natural. But I was about to follow a former president on stage. Plus, there were about 2,000 people in the audience. As I stood backstage waiting to go on, my nervousness turned to anxiety. And I felt something grab my ankles. The shark was back. The same shark that tried to swallow me on live TV was back.
And this was the worst possible time for this to happen. The speech that I was about to give was important to me. So I told myself, pretend you're a client. What would I tell a client in this moment of anxiety? Breathe. I'd been holding my breath. So I started to breathe. Breathe in, belly out. Breathe out, belly in. And I felt the shark loosen its grip. Then I asked myself, how do I want to come across? And words like confident, engaging, interesting, informative, and comfortable came to mind.
The shark's grip weakened, but still had me trapped. Then just as I was about to go on stage, I saw my hands were shaking. And that's a tell for sure. I knew I couldn't let anyone see my hands shaking nervously because I'm supposed to be good at this. So I needed to find a way to cover up my anxiety, not to mention my shaking hands. And I'm grateful to say, I found a way. I did something that day that changed my life as a speaker. That day I learned how to turn fake confidence into genuine confidence in a matter of seconds.
My hands and arms did it for me. As I walked on stage, I said, "Good morning, everyone! "Thank you so much for inviting me to be here today! "President Bush spoke about life in the White House. "And I want to talk about life "in the glare of the media spotlight." And by that point, only seconds later, I had confidence, real confidence, not fake confidence. You see, when we are genuinely confident, hormones like endorphins and dopamine give us strong body language and conviction in our voice.
So if genuine confidence helps us look strong, I discovered that day that looking strong can give us genuine confidence. Using my hands and arms in strong, bold gestures helped my brain believe I was genuinely confident. And I'm very happy to say that it went on to be one of the best talks I ever gave.
- Organizing your thoughts
- Speaking slowly, naturally, and confidently
- Breathing properly
- Using your body to reinforce speech
- Managing facial expressions
- Handling nervousness
- Integrating voice modulation, eye contact, and hand gestures into a powerful and engaging communication style