How to Project Confidence in Front of a Room

Start perfecting your power pose now

Have you ever watched a colleague give a powerful presentation at work or a world leader deliver a stirring address and thought, wow––that person is oozing confidence from every pore? And in that moment, did you feel your level of respect (and attention) increase? 

You’re not alone. As humans, we innately pick up on signs of strength and confidence, as an article from the Harvard Business Review details in an article about nonverbal communication. And although it can seem like these individuals were born with some sort of superhuman element, it’s not the case at all. In fact, such people have often spent hours, days and even years perfecting the way they position their bodies and speak. 

While it may take some time to build your confidence, there are some immediate takeaways from this article that you can implement at your next meeting to project more confidence and command a room. 

Position Your Hands for Success 

As the HBR article found, there are a series of hand and feet positions that convey different meanings, from assertiveness to openness: 

The Box 

To convey trustworthiness to an audience, imagine holding a box in front of your chest and belly––and contain your hand movements within it. (Bill Clinton was famously instructed to do this by advisers.)

Holding the Ball

Pretending to hold a basketball between both hands signals command and control. This was a famous pose for Steve Jobs. 

Pyramid Hands

Want to look relaxed (even if you’re anything but)? Try positioning your hands in the shape of a pyramid, which tells your audience that you’re totally at ease. This could be especially helpful during a meeting where tension is high. 

Legs in a Wide Stance

When your legs are positioned apart, even slightly, your balance is far better than if your feet were touching. This shows your audience that you are both in control of your body and of the situation. 

Palms Facing Up 

A favorite of super-open Oprah, palms in an upward position signal honesty and acceptance. So if it’s an appearance of sincerity you’re aiming for, this will be your best bet. 

Palms Facing Down

Alternatively, downward-facing palms signal strength and assertiveness. Barack Obama tended to use this motion when he wanted to calm a crowd. 

Keep Your Questions to a Minimum

Of course, positioning your hands or feet in a certain way is only the start of projecting confidence. What ultimately comes out of your mouth—and how—is equally important, as Fast Company reported.

If you want to appear less vulnerable, cut down on statements sounding like questions. Ending a statement with a period, rather than a question mark, can make you seem more assertive and sure of yourself. 

Fear the Filler Phrases, Not the Silence 

When giving a speech, it can be tempting to fill seemingly awkward silences with filler phrases (like, uh, you know). But as Fast Company says, these filler phrases could be killing your speech. Don’t fear silence––it will draw the attention to you further and give you time to better prepare your next statement.