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How to Look and Feel More Confident in Social Situations

Updated on January 7, 2017
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Sadie Holloway is a speaker and workshop facilitator who enjoys helping people find their passion and pursue their dream careers.

Here are some tips on how to boost your confidence by becoming more aware of how your body speaks to other people. Understanding how people send and receive messages with facial expressions, gestures and body movement will help you learn how to project the kind of easy confidence that people are naturally drawn to.

Are you ready to burst out of your bubble of shyness and feel more confident in social settings at work and amongst friends?
Are you ready to burst out of your bubble of shyness and feel more confident in social settings at work and amongst friends?

Using body language effectively can help add emphasis and clarity to the things you say. By being mindful of your body language you will be better able to match your words and thoughts with you facial expressions, gestures, and body movements. In turn, this can help you express and convey your sincerity, passion, and commitment to the issue you are talking about.

One of the other benefits of mastering your body language is that it can help you channel nervous energy in ways that aren’t distracting. Instead of letting your nervousness show through in unconscious twitches, shaking, or restlessness, you can learn how to consciously redirect that energy to make your hand movements, facial expressions and gestures more aligned with your verbal messages.

Do your hands and facial expressions match what you're saying?

Often the people who appear the most confident in social situations are the ones who are able to express themselves with sincerity and authenticity. Their physical movements are aligned with the meaning and intent of their words.
Often the people who appear the most confident in social situations are the ones who are able to express themselves with sincerity and authenticity. Their physical movements are aligned with the meaning and intent of their words.

Types of Body Language

  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Body position

Facial expressions: Your eyes, brows, cheeks, mouth, and chin are the primary source of non-verbal information. People look at one another's faces to discern a speaker’s emotions and their honesty and sincerity. The most trustworthy and admired people are the ones whose facial expressions match their words. For example, eye movements can send clues about someone’s honesty.

If you have a habit or smiling when you are nervous, practice controlling this habit so that you don’t grin or smile when talking about difficult or serious subjects. It’s always unnerving to talk to someone who smiles uncontrollably when talking about tragic or upsetting news.

Gestures: Gestures can be used to punctuate your verbal messages with feeling and emotion. Most gestures are made with your hands and arms although any part of your body can be used to add emphasis, such as leaning in with your hips or turning to face the person you are speaking to. Here are three basic types of gestures:

  • Conventional gestures are used as symbols for words. For example, a raised hand, palm facing outward says ‘stop’. Three raised fingers can be used to for the number three.
  • Descriptive gestures visually describe what you are communicating. Examples include moving the hands closer together or farther apart to indicate size or length or using the hands to outline a shape in the air such as a circle or square.
  • Emotional gestures suggest feelings. For example, a clenched fist suggests anger. Pulling your arms around yourself in an embrace might suggest a hug, warmth, or other such cozy feelings.

Body position. Your posture, stance, and directional positioning can give away clues about your alertness, your confidence or your interest in what the person you are with has to say. Turning your body away from someone suggests indifference while sitting up and leaning forward when someone speaking suggests you are interested. Here's how you can use body positioning to project more confidence in a friendly, non-threatening way:

  • Whether you are tall or short, get comfortable with your height. Compensating for height differences can undermine your projection of self-confidence. If you're worried that you're too tall compared to the person you are speaking to, instead of slouching or shifting your hips to lower your overall stance, simply take a few steps back. Doing this will not only improve your posture and make you look confident, you'll be giving your audience an appropriate amount of personal space.
  • Stay level-headed. Avoid tilting your head when giving your presentation. It changes the pitch of your voice and can make you sound shrill and whiny. Try to keep your chin parallel to the floor. While a cocked-head or a thoughtful sideways glance can add theatrical emphasis to your story, keep your audience's aural needs in mind. Make sure that you are speaking directly to them 99% of the time.
  • Ground yourself. Keep both feet flat on the floor and pointed towards the person (or people) you are speaking to. Teetering on your heels tends to amplify nervous energy.

It's much easier to feel confident in a social situation when you feel grounded and balanced. keep both feet flat on the floor and slightly parted for greater stability.
It's much easier to feel confident in a social situation when you feel grounded and balanced. keep both feet flat on the floor and slightly parted for greater stability.

Your posture and facial expressions, the position of your feet, what you do with your hands – all of these facets of your body language can give away information about who you are (honest or deceitful), how you feel about yourself (confident or nervous) and what your true motives are (to do good or just get ahead). So what do you want your body language to say about you?

Source material: Using Body Language, The Better Speaker Series, Toastmasters International

© 2017 Sadie Holloway

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  • dddarlene profile image

    dddarlene 7 months ago

    I say be proud, of yourself, n other people, will look at you, ok!!