How to look and act confident – Part 2

Image matters. We’d love to be able to say that it doesn’t, but it does. And yes, the way a person carries him or herself can directly communicate their internal level of confidence. In the last post, I made the case for how to “act” more confident. This post is how do you “look” more confident.

How to Look More Confident

Looking confident has as much to do with how you carry yourself as it does with what you wear. Harvard professor and researcher, Amy Cuddy, has done some fascinating research around this topic of looking confident. Specifically, what she found was that by assuming a “power pose” prior to and interaction, one could actually “feel” more confident. And it’s not just feeling more confident, the levels of testosterone would actually increase. What is a “power pose” you might ask? Any pose that gets you “as big as possible” according to Dr. Cuddy. Spread your arms out. Prop your feet up on your desk. Put your arms behind your head. Widen your stance. In other words, the opposite of squeezing yourself tight and getting yourself small.

So, got a big meeting? Practice power poses first.

clownSecond, consider what you are wearing. Dressing confidently matters. This one is a bit more tricky and subtle. As a general rule of thumb, consider both the situation and your own style. The sweet spot is finding a way to be professionally appropriate for the situation and to demonstrate some level of boldness while doing it. A client of mine shared with me this fantastic story. One of her mentors early on in her career was a female partner at a large consulting firm. This particular consulting firm, like many consulting firms, had an unspoken conservative uniform. Everyone essentially wore the same consulting attire. This partner would abide by the uniform (professional) but always had one thing on that thumbed its nose at the rigidity (bold). Sometimes it was a bright red scarf. Other times it was a pair of bright aqua heels. Whether it was the chicken or the egg is unclear, but people in the firm saw her as confident and bold.  She had executive presence with clients and partners in the firm.

So, what am I saying? Go out and get that bold pair of shoes you’ve been wanting. Buy that new suit. Get that bold tie (I’m on a pocket square kick at the moment). Get your hair done differently.  Get one bold element to bump up your confident appearance.

Professional + Bold = Confident

Combining professional attire with some boldness gets you confidence.  And confidence gets you closer to executive presence and that gets you more opportunities.

Get posing and get shopping. Who can argue with that (spouses excluded of course)?


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5 replies
  1. Eric Jackson says:


    This is a great article and it provides great guidance for the nonconformist. The balance is making sure you wear the “Uniform” with the twist, as opposed to wearing the twist without the uniform. What you wear provides a sense of comfort to the audience you’re communicating with, so I think its important not to have them shut down before you get a chance to speak.

    I’ve always heard that you should dress for the position you want and not the one you have. How do you balance that when your boss 2 levels up dresses in jeans in an office that allows that independence?

  2. Brandon Smith says:

    I love your comment… and the point about dressing for the position you want. I think the concept of “boldness” definitely expands as you get more senior. In other words, if you are the CEO, you can really wear just about anything you want. That doesn’t mean if you report to the CEO that you can do the same thing. However, you can take a cue from him / her. So, in other words, follow his / her style for guidance but keep it just a bit more conservative than them. You never want to look bolder than the CEO. In your case, that would be occasional “dressy jeans” (you know, the nice ones that you shelled out some $$ for… not the ones with the grass stains) with a sport coat. That would probably hit the mark.

  3. Ravi Agarwal says:

    Completely Agree! But why is it only the branded clothes or accessories we carry that has the fashion element in it! Why is it that we always have to take the shelter of these big brands only to quench our limelight thirst? Also found a very interesting and useful link in this context. Check the link:

  4. Brandon Smith says:

    I completely agree. You don’t have to have fancy brands or expensive clothes to look confident. It is all about style. Admittedly, I wish I had more skill in that area. The good news is that there are plenty of talented people who are willing to offer you advice. My wife and daughter are great sources for me!

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