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073 | 5 ways to feel more confident in your next interview, meeting, or presentation
Episode 7324th February 2023 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
00:00:00 00:15:44

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If your confidence seems to disappear whenever you have an interview, a meeting, or a presentation coming up, you are not alone. It’s something that most of us struggle with at some point or other during our careers. The good news is that however this lack of confidence, or nervousness shows up for you, there are things you can do to help.

In this episode of HR Coffee Time, Career Coach Fay Wallis shares five main ways a lack of confidence or feelings or nervousness can show up and what to do about them.

Key Points From This Episode


[01:32] Fay explains she’s going to talk through the five main ways a lack of confidence or nerves can show up and what to do about them


[01:53] The fight or flight response is often triggered by the stress of the situation


[02:58] If you get a dry mouth when you’re nervous take a bottle of water with you


[05:13] If you get the shakes when you’re nervous, do something physical to release the adrenaline in your body


[06:09] Matt Abraham’s tip is from his book, ‘Speaking Up without Freaking Out’ (this is an affiliate link, so Fay will receive a small commission from Amazon if you purchase the book through it)– hold a cold bottle of water in your hands if your lack of confidence or nervousness shows up as blushing, sweating, or getting hot


[07:43] Tackle voice changes by warming up and relaxing your vocal cords


[10:57] Keep racing thoughts at bay by doing PQ reps


[10:57] Fay wraps up the episode



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If you're kind enough to leave a review, please do let Fay know so she can say thank you. You can always reach her at: fay@brightskycareercoaching.co.uk.



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Transcripts

Fay Wallis:

Welcome to this episode of HR Coffee Time. It's wonderful to have you here. I'm your host, Fay Wallis, career coach and the founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching, where our mission is to help HR and people professionals have successful and fulfilling careers without working themselves into the ground.

Fay Wallis:

Today, I'm going to be talking to you about confidence. Because if your confidence seems to disappear, whenever you have an interview, a meeting or a presentation coming up, you are not alone. It's something that most of us struggle with at some point or other during our careers, whether that's struggling with interviews, or meetings, or presentations, all those three things have got in common are the facts that you're in the spotlight in some way. And people have turned up ready to listen to what you have to say, which can lead us to feeling a sense of pressure, or a feeling that you have to perform. Or perhaps you may experience feelings that you're an imposter and you've got nothing good to say and everyone's going to realise.

Fay Wallis:

Or, it could also lead to worries that you're being judged, and you're going to look like an idiot. And of course, what those worries and feelings can lead to is real nervousness and a lack of confidence in yourself. But the way that those nerves and that lack of confidence show up for you might be quite different to how they show up for someone else.

Fay Wallis:

The good news is that however they're showing up, you can do something about them.

Fay Wallis:

So in this episode, I'm going to talk you through the five main ways a lack of confidence or feelings of nervousness can show up and what to do about them.

Fay Wallis:

The first thing I recommend doing is to figure out what your nerves or lack of confidence look like for you. So ask yourself the question, How is this showing up for me?

Fay Wallis:

Often you'll find you've gone into a fight or flight response because of the stress that you're feeling about the situation, which means that your body is releasing adrenaline and cortisol. And that means that your heart rate might be speeding up to send oxygen to your major muscles, your breathing might be speeding up as well to deliver more oxygen to your blood. And these things, these physical reactions can start to affect how you're feeling and how you're behaving.

Fay Wallis:

The first one that we're going to take a look at is having a dry mouth. And for me, this is probably my main culprit, I get a dry mouth a lot. I feel thirsty a lot of the time anyway. But it gets even worse, if I'm nervous. And I can start to worry, this doesn't sound glamorous at all, I can start to worry that spit is going to fly out of my mouth, which would probably probably be the worst possible thing to happen in an interview or a meeting, if I'm close by to someone. It's definitely never a great look. Even if I was on a stage in front of lots of people, I don't really want to be spitting anywhere.

Fay Wallis:

So I've learned to always take a bottle of water with me, if I'm going to be in any of those situations, because it's no good assuming that someone's going to offer me a glass of water. It's such a horrible feeling if you're sitting in an interview, or you're about to talk in a meeting, or you're delivering a presentation, and he just feel your mouth go completely dry. So it's a simple tip but by knowing I've got my bottle of water with me, it helps reassure me that everything's going to be fine if that happens.

Fay Wallis:

The second thing that can often happen for people when they're feeling nervous, or their confidence is crumbling in any of these situations is that they get the shakes. So I don't know if this is one of the ones that affects you. But again, it's something that used to happen a lot for me. Thankfully, now that I've had a lot more practice at talking in public, it seems to have stopped. I'm really hoping that that is true. Because again, it used to be a horrible feeling. I really remember being in an HR role and being asked to stand up to update everyone in the entire company, about our employee engagement strategy. It was an off the cuff request. And I was so nervous, I think I completely went into the fight or flight response. Adrenaline must have been coursing through my body like crazy because my legs were shaking so much that I actually thought they were going to give way and I was going to keel over. Thankfully, that didn't happen. But it was still a horrible experience. And it would have been so obvious to everyone in that room that I was nervous and I was lacking confidence. And when I was telling one of my really good friends about it afterwards saying how mortifying and horrible the whole experience had been. One of my friends gave me a really good tip to help with this. She had recently been on some public speaking training, and she had been told that often if we're physically shaking or feeling jittery

Fay Wallis:

It's because of the burst of adrenaline that's happening, it's causing those shakes or that nervous energy. And the advice she was given was to do some sort of physical exercise or movement to get rid of it.

Fay Wallis:

So if you know it's going to happen, before you're about to walk into an interview, or before you're about to give a talk, the advice is to do something quite physical like quickly running up and down the stairs. Or if you're on a stage, take some big strides when you're on the stage so that you're releasing that adrenaline out of your body.

Fay Wallis:

The third thing that can show up this is one that thankfully doesn't normally happen to me, but may be one of the things that trips you up, is you might feel yourself getting very, very red and blushing, or heating up, or sweating.

Fay Wallis:

And a great tip for this, or a seemingly Great tip, because I haven't actually tried this one out, because this isn't something that happens to me. So if this is something that happens to you, and you try this tip out, please do let me know how you get on with it. It sounds great. So I'd love to hear an example of it working in real life.

Fay Wallis:

This tip is from someone called Matt Abrahams, whose book is absolutely brilliant, I would really recommend it, it's called, 'Speaking up without freaking' out and it's packed full of advice. In that book, he explains that just as holding a warm drink in your hands can make your whole body start to feel a bit warmer, the same is true with holding a very cold drink. So this is one of the things that affects him. So he says that before he's going to go into one of these situations, he'll make sure he's taking in a really, really cold bottle of water with him. And then he can hold the cold bottle of water in his hands, and it will actually cool down his body.

Fay Wallis:

The fourth thing is voice changes. Again, this, I feel like I'm ticking off almost all of these things. I don't know if that's just me, and if maybe you've only got one or two of them. But this is another thing that's happened to me before as well, which is that your voice might change.

Fay Wallis:

So it might start to shake, you might feel choked up, and that it's hard to get your words out. Or you can even have the sensation, this one hasn't happened to me. But apparently it does happen. You can have the sensation like there's a lump in your throat. Or otherwise you can sound very high pitched or you realise that you're talking very very, very quickly as well as very high pitched.

Fay Wallis:

Now, I did some research on this one, because I've heard anecdotally some solutions that might help but I thought you know what I want to properly check this out before I give the advice.

Fay Wallis:

And I found a great TEDx talk. There's an article that goes with it as well, which is by someone called Jackie Gartner-Schmidt, and she explains why these things happen to her voice. Her talk is called your voice says a lot about you. She explains it's because our vocal cords sit behind our Adam's apple, and they sit on top of our windpipe that goes down into our lungs. One of their main purposes is to protect us when we're drinking or swallowing so that the water or the drink doesn't go down into our lungs. When our body is in high alert, our vocal cords can tense up or close completely to protect us. But she handily shares a vocal exercise to warm up your vocal cords before you go into any of these situations. To help prevent any of those horrible things from happening. And talking about feeling like an idiot. I'm going to feel a bit ridiculous now doing this for you. But I'm going to demonstrate it, I'd recommend watching her TED Talk. If you actually want to see it in action, what you have to do is hold up your index finger about five to 10 centimetres away from your mouth. And then you're going to exhale through your mouth whilst making a sound that sounds a bit like a child impersonating a ghost. So I'll do it now so you can hear what it's like

Fay Wallis:

who you are. And apparently if you do that on Repeat a few times, it's a great way of warming up and relaxing your vocal cords so they're not going to tense up and cause that shaky voice or not being able to talk or squeaky voice or talking about 100 miles an hour. That's definitely one that's well worth a try. I have got a different vocal exercise that I tried, but I couldn't find any evidence for it really working anywhere. So I won't share that one with you. But if you don't like the idea of the ghost sounding exercise, if you just Google vocal cord warm up or go vocal cord relaxation exercises, you'll find that there are lots on there that singers and professional actors use and then you can just take your pick from any of those. And that brings us to Our fifth and final way that a lack of confidence or nervousness might be showing up for you. And that's if you have racing or worrying thoughts. And they can be really debilitating and stop you from concentrating in the moment or just really start to feel very, very panicked. In fact, this is very much linked with anxiety a lot of the time, because anticipatory anxiety is all about worrying about what could happen. So you're there thinking, Oh, my gosh, what if I trip up when I walk on the stage? Or oh, my goodness, what if I say something ridiculous, or Oh, my goodness, what if this goes wrong, or, or I should say this next. So it's just this real sense of nervousness and anxiety and worry. And what can help with that is to make sure that you're actually being grounded in the present. All the research about mindfulness and its effectiveness shows how incredibly powerful and helpful this can be.

Fay Wallis:

If you've been listening to the podcast for a long time, you might remember Episode 36, which was called, 'Four simple but powerful techniques to banish Impostor Syndrome'. And in that episode, I was joined by my friend, and wonderful guest, Jo Lott. Now Jo has been through the Positive Intelligence programme training, which I haven't been through, but has been on my wish list of Coach Training to undergo for ages, so I will hopefully get around to it at some points. And part of that training teaches you about something that they call PQ Reps. PQ Reps have brilliant ways of interrupting negative thoughts and grounding you in the present. So what I thought it'd be really helpful is to share the clip from that episode where Jo demonstrates with me live the different kinds of PQ reps. So the idea is that you can listen to either that episode or this clip from this episode, before you're about to go into a stressful situation. So before you go into that interview, before you go into that meeting, or before you're ready to deliver your presentation, I'll play the recording now and I hope you enjoy hearing it again, if you've heard it before.

Jo Lott:

The first one is called tactile. So rub your two fingertips together and really concentrate on that sensation.

Fay Wallis:

So for anyone listening, if you want to try along, I'm actually going to see all of the PQ reps live with Jo. So I'm busy rubbing my fingers together right now why don't you give it a try as well?

Jo Lott:

Yes, that's it and like really notice the ridges of your fingertips and really concentrate on that sensation.

Jo Lott:

And to get a really strongest sensation, but this is still number one tactile, wrap your whole hands against your whole other palm so your two palms together. And again, really concentrate on that sensation

Jo Lott:

and then we'll move on to the second type of PQ Rep. So this is breathing. So take a deep breath in

Jo Lott:

and a deep breath out

Jo Lott:

and really concentrate on your breathing

Jo Lott:

and now the third one so is sound so listen for the furthest sound way you can hear

Jo Lott:

and now listen to the closest sound that might be your breathing.

Jo Lott:

And then the fourth and final PQ Rep is visual so you can open your eyes and look at anything in your vicinity. You could look at your computer, some flowers on the desk and just really notice everything about that object, all of the different textures and patterns and colours

Jo Lott:

and that's the four PQ Reps.

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