By Elma B.
Recently, I attended a lecture led by a male and a female. What immediately struck me was the difference in the posture and the tone of voice in the genders. The guy speaker stood up straight, faced the audience and talked in an assertive tone of voice; the woman on the other hand, was fidgeting, apologizing (for minute mistakes), her back was curled, and her tone of voice was nervous and shy. Both the female and the male speaker had similar level of education, were close in age and had a similar level of work experience.
The question then begs what happens to our girls that we seem, at least on the surface, to loose that self-confidence when speaking in public, giving lectures, or even presenting at work? The brand Always recently made a commercial of what it means to do something "like a girl." The brand brought me back to my childhood when being being a girl meant being strong, confident and assertive. Yes, I would punch with full strength and speed to defend myself and my friends; and I would run with all of my might in any game on the playground.
While I do not have all of the answers on why girls loose confidence during puberty (is it societal influence or biology), I would like to provide you with some stepping stones for communicating confidence to the outside world through your body language.
6 tips on improving your body language:
1. Change your tone of voice.
Speak assertively and clearly. Speaking calmly yet loudly enough so the entire room can hear communicates confidence and belief in what you are saying.
2. Stand-up (sit-up) straight.
Do not slouch. Slouching communicates submissiveness.
3. Do not cross your arms.
Open-up your arms, crossing your arms communicates fear and indicates closing-off to the public. Spreading out in your space says that you are comfortable in your environment and are certain in your right to be there.
4. Do not cross your legs.
Crossing your legs communicates submission and withdrawal from the space. It says I am not certain to hold a chunk of my ground, so I will occupy a little corner.
5. Keep eye contact.
Shying away from the audience communicates I am not ready to be your leader because I am not certain about my message. Keep your eyes on the people giving you attention. Look across the room, so you acknowledge your audience; do not look at any one person too long. Everyone in the audience wants to feel included.
6. Hold your head-up high (naturally).
If you are tilting your head, you are communicating submission. In your natural relaxed state, hold your head high and straight.
Overall, I suggest being cognizant of your posture, your tone of voice and the amount of times you drop the "sorry" bomb. Remember, being sweet is the opposite of being authoritative and commanding leadership from the crowd. It may be worth it to re-visit your childhood when you were the ruler of the playground, and think what would your childhood self say to you today?
Until next time fashionistas, keep being bold and beautiful. Xoxo.
(p.s. For the fashionistas, my outfit dissected: jumpsuit and necklace from Zara, shoes by Jimmy Choo, and the rings are mostly vintage).