While some entrepreneurs appear overconfident, many struggle with self-doubt. Confidence is especially important for meeting with clients and customers. If entrepreneurs believe in themselves and their businesses, the enthusiasm can be contagious.
If you appear genuinely confident, you’ll be perceived as responsible, capable and intelligent. Clients and customers will be more likely to believe you’re the right person for the job. If you struggle with self-doubt, here are a few subtle changes you can make that can help you become more self-assured.
1. Make your voice more effective.
Speak loudly and clearly to ensure that everyone in the room can hear you. Adjust your volume according to the size of the audience. Lower your pitch to convey more authority. High-pitched voices can be perceived as shrill and annoying.
Vary the pitch of your voice throughout your presentation to give your words more power. End questions on a high note and punctuate statements with a lower note.
2. Adjust your position.
When you meet one-on-one with a client, sit up straight and keep your head up. Pull your shoulders back slightly and open your chest to allow for deeper breathing. Research by Erik Peper at San Francisco State University has shown that individuals who sit up straight have more energy and positive thoughts.
The opposite is true too. If you exhibit poor posture, you’re more likely to have decreased energy levels.
3. Avoid nervous behavior.
People tend to set up physical barriers when they feel uncomfortable. Don’t fidget, cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets.
Instead, fold your hands and place them on your lap or the table before you. When you’re not speaking, stay engaged and listen, expressing this with the posture of your whole body. If your client makes a comment or asks a question, show that you’re an effective listener. Lean slightly forward, make eye contact and nod occasionally.
There’s power in the pause.
4. Speak slowly.
You’re more likely to talk faster when nervous. If you speak too quickly, you might trip over words, forget to breathe or appear unsure. When you meet with a client, speak slowly and methodically.
There’s power in the pause. Brief pauses add a touch of drama to a presentation. Take a breath between thoughts to let your client better understand and appreciate what you’ve just said.
5. Practice power poses.
Participants in a Harvard Business School study who adopted certain high-power poses performed better and received higher evaluations when delivering a speech. Before meeting with a client, find a quiet space to compose yourself and prepare. Spend five minutes in an expansive, open posture to help you maintain your composure and exhibit more confidence.
Make yourself big and stretch out. Practice these power poses suggested by social psychologist Amy Cuddy:
Pride: Lift your arms over your head in a large V and raise your chin slightly.
Wonder Woman: Rest your hands on your hips with the elbows out.
Loomer: Stand, leaning forward over a table with your hands resting on the surface.
6. Ignore negative self-talk.
Don’t dwell on what others think of you. As you meet with your client, eschew the temptation to overthink your words or evaluate every misstep you make. Instead, focus on what you do well. Think about your accomplishments, what you can offer, and the talents of your team. Share your past successes with the client and explain why you’re the right person or company for the job.
7. Look the part.
Clothing is symbolic. You represent your business intellectually and physically. Entrepreneurs who dress well are perceived as more competent and powerful.
When you look your best, others treat you with more respect. Potential clients will associate high standards of appearance with the quality of your work. Dress for your industry and the comfort of your client. If you’re unsure about what to wear to a meeting, choose clothing that's dark in color to convey more authority. It’s always best to dress more formally than to appear too casual.