Some people show it beautifully to the world while others just wish they had it. Some of us know we have it, but want more of it. The often elusive feeling of confidence affects everything in our lives, from the way we feel about ourselves to the way we interact with other people.

When someone exudes genuine confidence, we are attracted to that person and are eager to hear this individual's view points. This is not the case when someone suffers from insecurity and attempts to mask it with arrogance. People who ignore or underplay their weaknesses are prone toward exhibiting false confidence - a major turn-off.

A lack of confidence is often interpreted as a lack of knowledge; this isn't always the case. Sometimes it has to do with shyness or nervousness in certain situations.

In my former life as a senior level HR director, I remember having interviewed a highly qualified woman for a training manager's position. She was brilliant and confident when she addressed groups but noticeably nervous when conversing one-on-one. The hiring manager reasoned that since her job focused on group presentations, he would hire her anyway. Not surprisingly, though, her lack of confidence in engaging with individuals kept her from advancing her career.

So, how do you build self-confidence? First, develop professional presence. One of my clients, a CPA, wanted to change her image. At first, she had trouble describing what that would look like. Then, after some coaching, it occurred to her that she admired Diane Sawyer's presence and decided to emulate her demeanor, including Diane's posture. She held Diane's image in her mind and it worked!

She kept her spine straight and sat with her shoulders level. My client's confidence soared and it did not go unnoticed. Six months later she got promoted!

Here are more ways to project confidence:

1. Sound confident.
Use a strong (but not an overly loud) volume. Enunciate your words clearly; no mumbling. Use a lively tone and vary your pace and pitch.

2. Have good eye contact.
Maintain eye contact without staring into the person's eyeballs. Keep your eyes in the vicinity of the eyes and the nose. It shows you are paying attention and keeps you focused.

3. Avoid distractions.
Rid your speech of "uhs", "ums", and other fillers. They make you seem unsure of yourself or unprepared. Keep your hands relaxed, no gripping.

4. Be approachable.
Smile. It will help you relax and increase your likeability factor; an important success trait.

Realize that every single human being gets nervous at times, and everyone wrestles with some self-doubt. It's what you do to overcome your inner discomfort that makes all the difference.

Having the technical skills for your position and knowing your job inside and out is not enough for people to trust and promote you. Your words, actions, and overall demeanor speak volumes about who you are and what others can expect from you. Confidence is just as important as commitment, knowledge, and determination.

Wishing you savvy success!

Barbara McRae, MCC
The Savvy Success Coach

Author's Bio: 

Barbara McRae, MCC, is a nationally known Master Certified Coach, president of Smart Mirage, and a recognized expert in professional career and life coaching as profiled in BusinessWeek magazine, USA Today, and The New York Times, and elsewhere.