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The Confidence Question—and an Answer

It was a familiar request. So many clients come to me with the same goal.

“I want,” she said, “to sound and feel more confident when speaking in person and on Zoom, especially when introducing myself and explaining what I do.”

You know I don’t offer myself as a mindset coach, although people often do change their mindset during our work together. In a way, I’m more of a bodyset coach. Seems to me that one good path to a new way of thinking and feeling is through the body. And it starts, of all places, with the feet.

As I do with so many people, I suggested that she uncross her legs and put both feet flat on the floor. Then center her bottom on the chair, sitting close enough to the front of the chair that her feet could comfortably stay where she’d put them. And balance her weight, so she’s not shifting or leaning to one side or the other. (You might want to try this yourself, now, as you read this.)

With a straight spine, she dropped her shoulders, shoulder blades back and down, chest open and expansive.

Her hands—and yours too—belong on the arms of the chair, or on the table, or resting loosely on the thighs. But they’re apart, not clasped together in your lap demurely, so you look like a good girl.

And the neck is straight, crown of the head toward the ceiling, as if there were a hook there, and a string pulling you up.

If you’ve been doing this along with my client and me, you may already feel lighter, yet more grounded. Open, and at the same time, more solid. Comfortably taking up space, without encroaching on anyone else’s. And yes, confident.

Isn’t it interesting how our inner feeling can change when we shift our outward demeanor?

The same thing works when you’re standing up, say, to speak at a meeting. Plant your feet, hip-distance apart. And don’t even think about wrapping one leg around the other the way some young women do, so they’re wobbling on a too-small base, sort of shaped like a bowling pin.

Stand up straight, your shoulders back and down, your chest open, your neck straight, facing the room. Allow yourself to breathe fully and deeply. Feel your ribcage expand, your side-body and even your back moving gently in and out.

Whether we’re standing or sitting, that breath from the belly supports a strong voice. Practicing it now, you might realize how often your breathing is shallower, more constricted. That tightness produces a thin, tinny voice, lacking the depth and richness you could access.

We’ve been breathing our whole lives, right? We certainly know how to breathe. And yet, when we begin to take in the air and let it back out with some attention, some awareness, everything can change.

Breathing this way, we naturally, easily produce a different sound. A new voice emerges. One that conveys more confidence, more comfort, more power.

Of course, when it comes to sounding confident, it’s not just the tone and volume of our voice that make a difference. The language we use has enormous impact on how people perceive us. And for that matter, how we perceive ourselves! We’ll tackle that another time. For now, come back to this coaching session with me.

My client began to change before my eyes—and ears.

Adopting this more grounded, centered posture, she naturally took up more space. Instead of folding in on herself, seeming small and insignificant … right there in my dining room chair, she grew in perceived stature and significance. No, of course, her physical height and weight didn’t change. The shift was energetic. And it showed.

Her homework (and you might want to take this on yourself) is to experiment with this new way of showing up. To notice how she feels when she plants herself firmly and fills up her space. And to observe how others respond to her too.

I’ll be curious about her observations. And yours.