Projecting Confidence – what we can learn from Beyoncé

Great speakers and accomplished media interviewees have much in common with other performers but the most important attribute is their apparent confidence.  Many high-profile actors, singers, comedians and dancers suffer from nerves, sometimes to the point of being physically sick or developing pre-performance panic attacks.  Yet you wouldn’t know it by watching them perform because they develop strategies to overcome the surges of adrenaline and stress hormone cortisol that can overwhelm a performance.

Beyoncé is a perfect example.  She’s on record as saying she’s naturally shy and feels intimidated when she finds herself talking to large groups of people.  Surprising, as this couldn’t seem further from the multi-Grammy-winning, charismatic, powerful superstar performer that we know she is.  Mrs Jay-Z famously overcame her nerves by creating alter-ego Sasha Fierce, even naming an album after her, as a way of allowing herself to become supremely confident on-stage.  However, Beyoncé decided to dump her alter-ego in 2010, telling a magazine:  “I don’t need Sasha Fierce anymore because I’ve grown and now I’m able to merge the two.”

Projecting confidence is an ability that can be developed even if you’re not born with the desire to put yourself centre-stage.  It’s not necessary to go as far as creating an alter-ego but, like Queen Bey, it is extremely effective to mimic confidence when performing. The old adage “Fake it to make it” definitely works. Eventually, you start to feel the confidence you’ve been feigning.

Here are my three top tips for projecting confidence, even if you’re not feeling it:

Control your breathing and smile

Focus on deep, rhythmic breaths at least 10 minutes before your presentation or interview (your performance).  This helps to slow a racing heartbeat and reduce both adrenaline and cortisol. Smile, which releases endorphins and helps you relax.

Think confident thoughts

Bring to mind a time you felt confident and re-live it. How did you feel and why? Recall your facial expression and posture. What is it about you that suggests you’re at ease?  Now focus on feeling those same emotions and thoughts. Silence your internal critic with positive statements to yourself, replacing negative thoughts such as “I really don’t want to do this” or  “I can’t do this” with “I know my stuff” and “I can do this”.

Speak slowly and look people in the eye

Speaking at a measured pace automatically suggests that you know what you’re talking about and you believe in yourself, whereas rushing sounds panicky and out of control.  Make sure you regularly make eye contact with your audience which, again, suggests self-assurance and credibility.

Bridgid Nzekwu is Head of Media Training at TNR, part of the Press Association. For more information about our media training courses or to make a booking, contact us at: hello@wearetnr.com  or visit our website: www.wearetnr.com/media-training