If you’re an ambitious business person, you’ve no doubt read articles that teach you about “executive presence”, “charisma” or even “leadership skills”. It’s true, all of these qualities are important if you’re career driven and have a strong desire to stand out from the crowd.
But as intriguing and alluring as all of these characteristics are, I’ve found they essentially come down to the one trait, “confidence”. Many people assume that confidence is something you’re born with. When in actual fact, confidence is something that every one of us has to acquire and build throughout our life. Nobody is born confident. But some people do learn quicker than others how to project confidence.
I’m positive that everybody has the potential to look like a confident leader, despite what your mind chatter might say. And I want to share with you in this article, concrete and practical ways you can project confidence in your professional, and even social life.
Outfit Ideas to Look Confident in Business
Looking confident in business is all about choosing the right outfit. When people see you walking down the hallway, you want them to immediately see you as somebody with certainty and self-assurance. Not somebody who doesn’t have what it takes to lead a business meeting.
Not many people realise this, but you actually have control over how much confidence you project by carefully choosing the right clothes to wear. All you have to do is know what colours and styles will make you look confident. Here’s some tips to get you started:
- Darker colours project more authority. That’s why you’ll typically see politicians, bankers, lawyers and other high-powered individuals dressed in a charcoal, navy, or black suit.
- Formality also projects authority. That’s why you’ll often have more trust in a banker if he or she is wearing a suit rather than a t-shirt and flip-flops.
To create a confident, professional look for your own wardrobe, you don’t have to dress head to toe in black or wear a three-piece suit with a top hat. But you can try to incorporate a touch of darker colour and subtle formality to what you usually wear.
You can easily add darker colours to your outfit through your jacket, pants, or accessories. Even if you work in a casual industry where jeans are preferred, choose a darker pair of jeans to achieve authority.
For formality, watch what others typically wear in the office and dress one notch more formal than everyone else. So if people typically wear jeans to work, wear a pair of chinos or dress pants instead.
Whether we like it or not, we are subconsciously influenced by the clothes other people wear. So the next time you’re putting together an outfit for work, think about the opinion you want others to have of you and create an outfit that will send that exact message.
Body Language Tips to Act Confident in Business
Your body language is the second element other people will notice, right after your clothes. To act confident in the office, you need body language that’s going to make you appear strong and powerful.
If you’re not familiar with Amy Cuddy’s TEDx talk, I urge you to allocate 10 minutes today getting familiar with her research and try out some of her power poses that you might be able to use in the office.
If you want to take your body language mastering one step further, then take a look at the tips I’ve provided below:
- Confident body language always starts with your posture. So when you’re sitting or standing, make sure your shoulders are pushed back but relaxed, and your stomach is tight.
- Keep your gaze level high when you’re walking and be sure to maintain eye contact when you’re talking. In both cases, you’re revealing your neck which is the most vulnerable part of your body.
Body language contributes to around 93% of our communication. So even if you’ve put together an ultra confident outfit, if your body language doesn’t speak “confidence”, other people around you will not see you as somebody who is confident.
Voice Tips to Sound Confident in Business
Adapting your voice to sound confident is the last element you need to work on to look, act and sound confident in business.
Imagine you’re waiting for a business meeting to start. You see the leader of the meeting walk into the room in an impeccable suit with strong, powerful posture. He puts down his papers and starts addressing the room. But instead of a clear, loud voice that commands everybody’s attention, you hear a quiet voice that mumbles a lot.
Your voice is the final touch you need to put on your confident image. And rather than the words that you use, it’s more the volume, tone, and clarity you should focus on. Here’s my top tips:
- Increase your volume by drawing lots of air into your lungs. When you breath in deeper you can push more air out of your lungs which will increase the volume of your voice.
- Lower your tone just a little to command authority. There’s a reason parents use this technique when reprimanding their children – it works.
- Enunciate your words so you speak with clarity. When your words are clearly understood, your message is, too.
If you follow these tips to look, act and sound confident in business, you’ll be able to project confidence, and be seen as somebody who has executive presence and leadership potential.