Increasing your business confidence
New and even not so new enterprises can struggle with confidence issues. They are often working alone with no one to share their triumphs or challenges with. At times they struggle to keep their belief in their business vision and their own self-belief alive. Yet they are their enterprise’s ambassador and need to able to communicate what they are about in a clear and self-assured manner, to create a brand potential clients, collaborators or referral partners feel positive about.
There’s a tool all of us have than can calm us down, stop us being nervous and greatly improve our ability to look and sound confident when we are pitching to others. It’s our breath.
Breath is such an everyday action that we all take for granted. Yet being more aware of our breath can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves, how we present ourselves, how we feel giving presentations and the impact we have on others.
The simple act of focusing on our breath for a couple of minutes calms us right down. Try it. Close or lower your eyes and just observe your breath as it enters and leaves your body. To keep your focus, mentally recite “breathing in” as you inhale and “breathing out” as you exhale. And that’s all. You aren’t trying to slow down your breath, but this may happen naturally as you observe yourself breathing in and breathing out.
Now notice how you feel. Words people often use in feedback are that they are feeling calmer, more relaxed, more peaceful. What’s happening on a physical level is that as our breath slows and gets deeper, more oxygen gets to our blood flow which increases, our heart rate slows down, our nervous system relaxes and our muscle tension lessens. As our breathing slows and deepens we are creating the optimum conditions for our voice to be at its best. So when we are talking to others about our business at networking events or in more formal presentations, because we are taking longer, slower breaths, the breath is coming from our chest or stomach, which produces a more resonant sound that can be projected easily and pleasantly.
Contrast this to how we feel when we are angry or nervous. We clench and tense our muscles, we close in on ourselves, and our breathing quickens and becomes shallower, resulting in a sound produced in the throat that’s not so firm and can even have tremors or shakes. So taking the time to breathe in a more self-aware way for a few moments before we present something, and then to continue this pace of breathing as we present, makes us feel calm and sound confident. Because we’re breathing deeper we don’t have to keep catching our breath. When we do breathe, we pause slightly before continuing which stops us gabbling and enables our audience to catch up. And to maximise the flow of oxygen, we add posture to the mix. Instead of a closing in posture, associated with nervousness or anger, we open out, our shoulders slightly back, our spine straight but not rigid, probably standing, and this allows the breath to flow through the nose and mouth and down to the chest and stomach in an unrestricted way, again making us feel and look confident.
So breath is the vehicle for our voice physically but also affects how we feel delivering our message and how we are perceived as we speak. Practising observing our breath sitting down, then adding posture as we stand and watch our breath, is an easy and accessible way to start nurturing our confidence as we think and talk about our business.