Do you wish you felt more confident when speaking one-on-one or to a large group of people? If so, you aren’t alone. According to the Wall Street journal, public speaking is the #1 fear in America.
Graduates of the Dale Carnegie Course for Effective Communications and Human Relations Skills for Success report that they are much more confident after learning the tools taught in the course—especially because they are able to practice and apply them in eight successive weeks.
Here are four easy ways to begin developing your confidence from this effective course taught in 85 countries around the world.
- ‘Smile,’ is Mr. Carnegie’s fifth Human Relations principle. It sounds so simple, yet smiling at another person is so very effective. In his best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he said, “Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.” Smiling at another person assumes you are making direct eye contact which is critical to invoking confidence. Retaining eye contact while smiling shows you are paying attention to the other person, which simultaneously raises their confidence in you. Some studies have concluded that making eye contact enables you to appear more trustworthy and decisive as well. Whether speaking to an individual or in a group, be sure to smile and make solid eye contact.
- Stand straight. When the time arises to present to an audience, take charge of a conversation or meet someone for the first time, the goal is to be assertive rather than aggressive. The proper confident stance in these scenarios is to maintain a dominate posture by holding your head up high, standing up straight and keeping your shoulders back. Lean forward when you speak and lean back when you want the audience to respond to show that you are open to their responses.
- Listen. Sometimes we become overwhelmed with anxiety before meeting a new person or sharing a different opinion during a heated conversation. Instead of worrying about what you will say, listen to your audience. Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle is, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.’ Use others’ statements to uncover agreements and mutual interests. When you are ready to chime in, start with what you agree on or have in common with the other people/person. They will be more open to whatever you have to say, including a perspective that is not the consensus, and you can proceed confidently.
- Practice. Dale Carnegie said, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.” You can read about becoming more confident all day long, but until you start practicing these steps, you won’t realize any success. Start in a comfort zone—at a neighborhood BBQ or summer celebration with an unfamiliar person. You’ll be conjuring up confidence in no time!