One of the key skills of a great project manager is being able to lead with confidence. Managing a project can be a complicated juggling act, not to mention learning to work with diverse groups of stakeholders. People will look to you to confirm that everything is running smoothly and that any problems can be overcome.

What if you are not feeling confident? What can you do to inspire confidence in your abilities even if you are not feeling 100%?

Here are my 5 top tips for how to feel more confident:

Stop & Breathe

There are many feelings and thoughts that attack your ability to act with confidence. One way to counter these feelings is to take a few deep breathes. Really allow yourself to stop and focus on your breathing for a short while. It is amazing what a huge difference this can make when needing to calm your nerves. 

Using simple breathing counting techniques is a great way to focus your mind. For example, deeply inhale and exhale while counting in your mind. Try counting to four while inhaling, holding for three and exhaling for five. Repeat this a few times with your eyes closed.

When you open your eyes, you may find that you have a clearer sense of what is worrying you, what is most important, and how it could be managed. This skill can help clear your mind when you have too many thoughts screaming for attention.

Understand Your Triggers

When something happens which sets you off and impacts your confidence, make note of what happened. If you are aware of the things which trigger your worries and self-confidence issues, you can begin to tackle them. By knowing your own personal triggers, you can learn strategies to overcome those specific fears.

For example, you may learn particular affirmations to tell yourself out loud when you feel triggered. Once you learn what thoughts help counteract your fears, you can draw on those positive thoughts each time to help build your confidence. With practice, the positive counter-thoughts to your fears will come to you without much effort at all.

Dress With Confidence

Never underestimate the power of wearing something that you feel comfortable and fabulous in! Feeling great about yourself will help you keep your chin high in challenging times.

For example, if you have an important meeting, wear something that makes you feel strong, motivated, confident and determined. Don’t wear something that you know makes you feel too warm, cold or uncomfortable so you can avoid distractions. Look at your reflection before you leave for work, and tell yourself that you look great before walking out the door. You will have a spring in your step all day long.

Know Your Subject

For situations where it is vital that you ooze confidence, take time to prepare yourself. Write up a script, talking points and/or keywords to keep you on topic and moving forward.

Being familiar with the information that you will be focusing on or discussing will help you feel in control of your message and ultimately, the situation. Saying the message out loud to yourself in practice is a great way to improve your delivery. Try chatting out loud about your notes on the ride to work or while out for a walk on your lunch break. Knowledge is power, and key to feeling confident!

Body Language

Take time to understand what confident body language looks like, and then use that knowledge to find what works best for you. There are several great TED talks that can assist you with displaying confident body language. Whether you draw on these body language skills often or infrequently, knowing some simple tips of confident body language can assist you to act confidently in various situations, including when delivering your project outcomes.

My Celebrating Women in Project Management series will highlight stories to inspire others, raise the profile of women in the profession, and further strengthen our global network. Boost your self-confidence – submit your profile now for my 2019 #CelebratingWomenInProjectManagement series. Be part of the community of fabulous women in project management! We cannot wait to meet you, and to support you as you find new opportunities in life and in your project management career.

Never forget your value. No one else can do what you do.

Elise Stevens