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Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, once said, “Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.”
While I’m not necessarily fond of whale meat, or tartar sauce for that matter, I completely understand what Ziglar meant. Simply put, when you possess confidence, the impossible seems possible.
When delivering training in the corporate classroom, having confidence is just as important as having your lesson plan or facilitator guide. Instructors who are confident are more likely to be viewed as credible and have more respected levels of leadership.
However, there may come a time when your self-confidence is not as high as you’d like it to be. Perhaps you’re teaching a new course and you haven’t yet mastered the content. Or maybe you have many highly experienced learners in your class and their mere presence simply intimidates you. Whatever the reason, you may find yourself lacking a bit of self-confidence.
When I find myself in a self-confidence slump, I practice a few techniques to increase my confidence level.
Having a positive mental attitude is imperative to boosting your self-confidence. People who are positive thinkers genuinely believe they can overcome the most difficult obstacles and are ultimately worthy of success. The way in which I think positively often includes the use of self-talk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to silently remind myself, right in the middle of class, “You can do this!”
Thinking positively is not always easy. If you let it, your mind can go down a negative path very quickly. It’s been scientifically proven that the human brain gives more attention to negative thoughts and experiences rather than positive ones. This is often because most negative events we’ve experienced in life have caused us some sort of pain or harm. We find ourselves hyper-focused on negative events all to avoid being hurt again.
Shifting from a negative to a positive mindset takes more of a deliberate effort. When that negative feedback loop begins to replay itself in my mind (e.g. I mispronounced that word last time or people never seem to understand this calculation), I force myself to get rid of my negative thoughts. Instead, I focus on how I’ve now learned to correctly pronounce that particular word, or I’ll think of an alternative way to explain the calculation.
Focus on Your Strengths
Focusing on your strengths can often boost your self-confidence. Strengths are nothing more than various personal traits or characteristics that allow you to perform at your very best. Now that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any weaknesses. It’s simply a matter of emphasizing one more than the other. Psychology suggests that when we focus on developing and using more of our strengths, our morale is improved, our self-confidence is increased, and we perform at a higher level of efficiency.
When I focus on my strengths, it usually involves thinking about positive or outstanding performances of the past. I mentally reflect on a time when I received a perfect score of “10” on an end-of-course evaluation. I might think about the time when a learner complemented me on my energetic and upbeat instructional style. Lastly, I might give thought to a past class where I was able to explain a concept that helped a learner understand something with greater clarity.
Whatever it is, know that you have strengths and you do bring something to the table. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. By focusing on your strengths your self-confidence is typically increased.
Set Small Goals
Often, when it comes to setting goals and objectives, we shoot for the stars. And if for some reason we’re not able to reach the solar system and grasp one of those bright and shiny stars, it only leads to disappointment, frustration, and a lack of self-confidence. Instead of setting one huge goal, I recommend setting smaller, multiple goals.
Setting smaller goals increases the likelihood of your achieving them. Once achieved, you’ll then feel good about that achievement and inspired to conquer the next goal. Before you know it, you’ve achieved several goals instead of just one.
A practical application in training might look something like this: Let’s say you’re lacking self-confidence because you’ve been asked to teach a course you don’t know very well to cover for a fellow instructor who called in sick.
Instead of having one overall goal of simply reaching the end of the course, set multiple goals throughout the training day. Those smaller goals might be: successfully complete a module or exercise, finish on time before going to lunch, share a relevant, personal story, etc. Whatever your mini goals are, set them, achieve them, and celebrate them. I find this is a more feasible way to tackle a daunting task or situation all while boosting your self-confidence.
As humans, we’re not perfect. Our self-confidence is not always where we want it to be 100% of the time. However, with a little effort and practice, we can get our confidence to a level that helps us persevere and conquer virtually any difficult situation that comes our way inside or outside the classroom.
What personal tactics do you use to boost your self-confidence?
If you’d like more tips for steering a class with ease, have a look at our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop where you’ll learn even more on how to build your confidence as you practice delivering a real-world training session for an in-person classroom setting.