It’s completely normal to be nervous at work, especially before important events like interviews,
meetings, and presentations. At GrasshoppHer, we focus on this A LOT. How do you define business professional or business casual, and how much does it matter when you’re networking?
If you’re often fearful or nervous before a big meeting, it may help you to remember that confidence is a
learned skill. There are many ways to develop, strengthen, and practice it in your professional life. Start
with these 5 tips, and you’ll be bringing your A-game to the conference room before you know it:
Dress the Part
Many professionals tend to “power-dress” on particularly big days at work, and for good reason. Psychological studies have long proven that the clothes we wear tend to influence how we behave and how others perceive us. Wearing clothing that makes you feel powerful, in control, and comfortable in your skin can therefore motivate you to project these feelings outwardly.
While the idea of power-dressing may call to mind images of tailored jackets, shoulder pads, pencil skirts, and the like, the term is about much more than adhering to a single style. These days, power- dressing mostly has to do with expressing the wearer’s beliefs, values, and expectations. Not into the hyper-structured look of business suits? Layer a long, flowy top or dress over a pair of fashion leggings for a relaxed but still put-together look that exudes effortless confidence. Struggle with walking and standing comfortably in heels? Ditch them in favor of comfy flats, brogues, or other sensible shoes, and walk the floor of your meeting venue with your head held high. As long as you keep your outfits work-appropriate, anything that makes you feel strong and positive is fair game.
Model Confident Behaviors
If you’re not feeling very sure of yourself on the inside, chances are that you won’t act or sound self- assured at the meeting table. Ironically enough, you may find it helpful to turn this equation completely around and work on your confidence and self-esteem by practicing concrete confident behaviors. One common example involves rehearsing your public speaking and making a conscious effort to remove self-effacing or apologetic fillers like “I don’t know if this makes sense, but” or “sorry to butt in.” You can then replace these qualifiers with more assertive, direct statements.
Be Patient with Yourself
Building confidence at work involves changing your mindset and behavior in major ways. It’s only reasonable to assume these changes won’t happen overnight and will instead take time and sustained effort. You may also have to adjust your approach as you try new things and figure out what works and doesn’t work for you. It’s totally normal for new habits to feel unnatural and even uncomfortable at first. There’s nothing wrong with pacing yourself and working up to larger changes slowly. You might push yourself to ask just one question during a meeting, for example, and then gradually speak up more and more until you feel comfortable taking the reins during conversations.