How to be more Confident

Fake it.

Yes, pretend.

There are three benefits that grow from you “acting” confident:

  • Attitude follows Behavior: Over time, you become more like you act—self-assured, confident, and convinced of the truth of what you are saying.
  • Emotional Contagion: Walk down an airport corridor and smile, and watch people smile back; change your facial expression to a frown, and you will be met with frowns. Act confident, people respond with confidence in you.
  • Self-Reinforcing Emotions: if you smile and then others smile, you are more likely to feel happy and smile. You may have to act confident and knowledgeable at first, but as others “catch” that feeling, it will be reflected back, making you more confident.
The research is laid out in detail in “Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don’t” by Jeffrey Pfeffer.  Pfeffer says that in order to be Powerful it is vital that you appear Powerful.  In the words of Peter Ueberroth: “Authority is 20 percent given, 80 percent taken.” 

Try acting confident for an hour.  How does it feel?  How do people respond?  Try smiling.  Do people respond with smiles?  How do you feel?  Have a great weekend.

    Get your customers to do your best marketing for you Part 1 of 4: Nobody talks about boring businesses

    I recently listened to John Jantsch speak about his new book “The referral engine: Teaching your Business to Market itself“. This post is part of a series of 4 that provide the valuable insights that I drew from his words.

    The power of word of mouth
    John spends a lot of time out talking to small business owners and found that in contrast to large corporates, most small businesses and entrepreneurial start-ups say the bulk of their customers come from word of mouth.  They come because of another customer’s recommendation.

    If you run a small business or are an entrepreneur, this then is key.  How do you make a business highly referable?  How can you create a system so that referrals happen consistently?

    John outlines 6 “realities” of the world that we can use to build our referral system:

    1. People make referrals because they need to.  We are wired this way.  It builds my social capital if I can share valuable, useful services with friends that need them.
    2. Referral is a big risk– a referral means that I am loaning trust to your organisation.  This level of trust is more important with doctor or lawyer than with a decent local restaurant.  Companies can reduce perceived referral risk through consistency of service delivery.
    3. Nobody talks about boring businesses.  Will I talk about your service, people or company at a party or over lunch? What is unique? What is special?
    4. Consistency builds trust.  Steps: 1) Know a person 2) Like the person 3) Trust the person. I have to get to know you, then to like you before I begin to trust you.  Any surprises along the path and I will not reach “trust”.
    5. Marketing is a system.  Digital interactivity is at the center of marketing.  It is not alone, but cannot be avoided in today’s Web 2.0 world.  The marketing concept of the customer funnel is broken and needs replacement.
    Key insight:  Nobody talks about boring businesses.

    I will continue this series next week with part 2: “Get your customers to do your best marketing for you Part 2: The marketing funnel is broken“.

    There were 5 ancient Greek philosophies of happiness

    At the risk of gross oversimplification, there were five Greek philosophies of happiness.

    • Socrates – only the poor, those who have nothing to lose, can be happy.
    • Aristotle – you have to be born rich to be happy (in reality healthy, wealthy, good family, good friends).  Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics introduced the good life.
    • Epicurus – remove all causes of pain to be happy (don’t spend time with irritating people or doing annoying things). “Pleasure is the absence of suffering”.
    • Stoicism – life is about suffering. Happiness is to accept the obstacles with serenity.  Stoicism was founded by Zeno of Citium.
    • Hedonism – happiness is spending time doing what gives you pleasure. The basic idea behind hedonistic thought is that pleasure is the only thing that has intrinsic value. 

    In reality, the ancient greeks had no word that exactly matches our current word “happiness”.  The closest term from their language was Eudaimonia.  Aristotle says that eudaimonia means ’doing and living well’.  What is interesting to me is that I view happiness as a state – but the greeks had no word that represented a steady-state happiness – only an active form of happiness that required behaviours in line with a set of virtues.

    Some useful resources:

    What makes you a Well-Paid Expert?

    This is relevant for anyone who communicates regularly from a position of authority – doctors, scientists, professors…

    3 Types of Experts

    I have had several people who have expertise say to me “but I haven’t been successful myself”.  Toni Nadal isn’t better at tennis than Rafa, but he knows how to get results. Michael Porter hasn’t run a business, but he has spent a lifetime interviewing people that have.  There are 3 types of experts:

    1. The Result Expert – Proven ability to get specific results for others
    2. The Research Expert – Has interviewed performers and has a deep knowledge of tools, strategies and tactics in an area
    3. The Role Model – Has been successful

    Tim Ferriss has an interesting perspective: “you can learn more from the person who shouldn’t be good, but is than from the person who is naturally excellent.”  Roger Federer has every natural gift to be a top tennis player.  Rafa Nadal had to really fight to become number 1.  Most of us can learn more from Rafa’s approach than we could learn by understanding Federer.

    Four Actions of Experts

    There are four things that the best experts do:

    1. Choose mastery.  Choose continuous learning. Choose to read, to review, to focus intensely on a continuous process of learning and growing in the specific field in which they are experts.  Go deep rather than go broad.
    2. Regularly interview other experts looking for patterns and best practice.
    3. Create arguments based on four parts:
      1. What we should be paying attention to
      2. What things mean
      3. How things work
      4. What might happen
    4. Simplify complex ideas with frameworks

    Four Actions of Wealthy Experts

    There are four further things that can differentiate the wealthy expert from the plain expert:

    1. Package their knowledge: Write, speak, record – put knowledge into a form that people are willing to purchase
    2. Campaign vs Promote their knowledge – each interaction leads to a further interaction
    3. Charge expert fees – charge more than you are comfortable with
    4. Focus on:
      1. Distinction – Keep studying the competition and keep innovating
      2. Excellence – Be better
      3. Service – Be helpful and responsive

    These 8 actions come from this video from Brandon Burchard.  Brandon helps others become well-paid experts.

    I like his explanation of what differentiates a true expert from non-experts.

    I will finish with a thought from Charles Handy, the Irish business philosopher who was one of the founders of London Business School.

    “The aim of education is to give someone the self belief that enables them to take charge of their own life.” Charles Handy

    This is the true aim of any expert.

    To speak well requires practice

    Public speaking is a learned skill.  To speak well requires practice.  The ability to speak confidently and persuasively in front of groups is a highly valuable asset.  Increased practice leads to better performance in job interviews, proposal presentations, project team meetings and board meetings.

    The basic principles of persuasion were developed over hundreds of years in Ancient Greece and Rome by philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian.  At the very heart of this development was Aristotle’s triad of logos, ethos and pathos.  Aristotle’s innovation was to include “ethos”, or credibility, into the accepted approach to persuasion.

    In business, as it is often in life, it is a simple fact that our decisions are about future actions, and no human action in the future is predictable.  This unpredictability and uncertainty leads to disagreement and means that the questions being asked are of a conditional nature.  This unpredictability moves decision-making away from the area of certainty and into the area of probabilities. In confronting uncertain and unpredictable situations, audiences are normally unsure and less motivated.  As a consequence, logical argument alone will not be enough to move them to action.

    There is a tendency in the western world to assume that success or failure of any argument can be determined by the strength of the arguments, the neat balance of pros and cons.  A group of well educated, rational people, the widespread assumption goes, should be unaffected by a speaker’s persuasive appeals.

    There is a limited set of scientific areas where “convention” has created a form of general argument and rationality alone is enough – however this is a highly limited set of areas of human engagement.

    When uncertainty exists a speaker must always give the audience some sense that he or she is somebody worth listening to.  It is not enough to only provide the argument. For as long as people have written about rhetoric, it has been a subject of both suspicion and admiration. We fear manipulation.  Yet we also recognise its power to arouse the passions, convince the will and enlighten the understanding.

    The Aristotlean Rhetorical Model defines three proofs that are required to bring an audience to action in an uncertain and unpredictable context:

    Logos, Pathos and Ethos

    1. Logos, the first proof, is based on deductive and inductive logic
    2. Pathos, the second of these proofs, concerns the effective employment of audience psychology.  Pathos can be seen as the bringing of an audience to the right state of emotion.  It requires connecting emotionally with your audience.  It is when our audience has reached this state that they will usually accept our message.
    3. Ethos, the third proof, concerns the character of the speaker and is of utmost importance.  You must be “believable” in order to have people in the audience willing to engage with the content (emotional and rational) of your speech.

    The balance between “what is said” and “how it is said” is vital. I will be writing a series of future blog articles looking at the essentials of logos, pathos (Aristotle listed 142 emotions you can elicit in an audience) and ethos.  I am interested in comments on ideas or areas of special interest or personal experience.  Has something worked for you?  What is the hardest part of preparing a persuasive speech?

    More On Moving People to Action

    1. The Complete Guide to Personal Habits: 158 Positive Reflections in 7 Categories to Be The Best Version of Yourself (5/2/2016)
    2. Simple Rules for Effective Meetings (9/9/2011)
    3. 6 Ways to get your Email Ignored (3/14/2011)
    4. 17 Daily personal habits for a fulfilling life (10/15/2009)
    5. 14 Things Highly Productive People Do Differently (1/6/2013)

    The 3 keys to powerful body language while speaking

    There is no simple rules for how you should stand, have your hands, look, or dress when you give a speech. However you must achieve three things in order to powerfully support the verbal message of your speech.

    Sandy Linver in her book “Speak and Get Results” outlines the three areas: you must transmit authority, energy and audience awareness.  Authority is that you look and sound like you have something to say about the subject.  Energy is that you look like the subject is important to you.  Audience awareness is that you have an interaction with the audience members so that they feel part of the experience of your speech.

    How do you transmit authority? There are three ways that your body language or non-verbal language can signal authority to the audience:

    1. Visual image – The clothes you chose to wear at 7 this morning will have a big impact on how your audience judge you.  Do you look like they would expect an “expert” on this topic to look?  If you are speaking to a business audience about business, you should look the part.  If you are speaking about social media and web 2.0 perhaps you can look somewhat different.  If you are speaking to greenpeace or a local labour movement, a suit might create the wrong first impression.
    2. Body image – feet shoulder width apart, body balanced, gestures supporting the key moments of the speech, any walking during pauses – key being that there is nothing that is distracting the audience from being able to engage with your message (don’t look like you are about to fall over, like you have an intense interest in the keys in your pocket)
    3. Voice – There are five characteristics of a powerful voice
    1. Breathing – relaxed deep breaths give you projection and power
    2. Articulation – open your mouth and clearly pronounce the words, no mumbling and no “filler words” (um, ah, em, like)
    3. Downward inflection – In all human languages we signal answers by terminating the statement with downward inflection – we signal questions by finishing the phrase with a raised tone.  Many times nerves will drive you to say “IESE is the best business school in the world” with a upward tilt in tone on the “world” turning it into “IESE is the best business school in the world?”.
    4. Pauses – Include 3-8 second pauses at key moments – just before key statements or just after a story – this really brings the audience into the speech.
    5. Projection and resonance – make sure you are using your whole diaphram – the chest and lungs as well as mouth and nose – can you feel the vibrations coming from your chest and your sternum vibrating?  A voice that comes from the chest rather than a voice that vibrates in the nose reaches the back of the room and transmits powerfully.


    Simple – you just need to look like you care about the subject that you are speaking about.  If the speaker doesn’t look like this is a subject of great importance, it will be impossible for the audience to engage the subject with any sort of passion.

    Audience Awareness

    There is a huge about of communciation coming back to the speaker during the speech.  You can see whether people are engaged or not.  You can hear when there are distractions or areas of the audience that have lost engagement and are having side conversations.  Usually a quick glance in the direction of the distracion, or simply pausing your speech until the audience re-engages can be a very powerful method to show that you are 100% physically there in the room and that the audience matter to you.

    12 Tips for Public Speaking

    I am currently preparing the next year IESE MBA managerial communications course material and put down some rough notes on some key tips that differentiate powerful speakers from the rest.

    1. Speak with an intent to move people to action. Know what you want your audience to do immediately after hearing your speech. If nobody does anything different than they would have done before you spoke – the value of your speech is zero.
    2. Start strong with a “grabber”. A personal story, a quote from an expert or a shocking statistic – something that takes a hold of your audience and gets them hooked and opens their mind to your message. Give the audience a chance to see your personal connection to the topic.
    3. Structure your material in three sections – grabber, middle, close. Know your material. Get really interested in the topic. Find good stories.
    4. Practice. Practice. Practice. Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Use a clock to check your timings and allow time for the unexpected.
    5. Know the audience. Try to speak to one or two people in the audience as they arrive – they will be your allies in the audience – it is easier to speak to friends than to strangers.
    6. Know the setup. Arrive in good time to check out the speaking area and get practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
    7. Relax. Begin with a well prepared grabber. A personal story is a great start. It connects you to the audience and creates the right emotional atmosphere (and calms your nerves).
    8. Visualize yourself successful. See yourself at the end of the speech surrounded by people asking questions, visualise the applause.
    9. Pauses. Include 3-8 second pauses at key moments – just before key statements or just after a story – this really brings the audience into the speech.
    10. Don’t apologize – the audience probably never noticed it.
    11. Smile. Look like the content matters to you – if the audience don’t feel that it is important to you, it will be really hard for them to feel that it should be important for them.
    12. Get experience. Take every opportunity you can get to speak (and listen to other speakers). Prepare well ahead of time. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking.

    What’s Your View

    Are there any other tips that work for powerful speakers out there?

    4 simple steps to become a great speaker

    Jim Rohn says that there are four simple steps to becoming a great speaker:
    1. Have something to say.
    2. Say it well.
    3. Read your audience.
    4. Intensity (the right words mixed with measured emotion).

    How do we get something good to say? Live a full live. Meet lots of people. Fail. Succeed. Remember what it felt like and be able to share the emotion as well as the facts of what happened. Write a journal. Keep track of your stories.

    How do we say it well? Prepare. Start strong. Breathe. Look up. Pause. Practice (lots).

    How can you read the audience? Look at them. Listen to them. Feel the emotion of the room, of your listener – by feeling your own emotion.

    Intensity – how do we get the right emotion? Tell personal stories. Share something. Only stories allow us to share emotion with others.