12 Ways to Have More Confident Body Language

Confident mature woman leaning on her desk in a modern office
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Even if you don't feel confident, practicing confident body language can increase your self-esteem and help you feel better about yourself. People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) often have trouble feeling confident in interactions with others. However, anyone can boost their confidence by making sure that their body language conveys a positive message.

Practice these gestures and movements to project an air of confidence. Yes, "fake it 'til you make it" can be good advice!

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Make Eye Contact

Appear confident by maintaining eye contact in social interactions. Good eye contact shows others that you are interested and comfortable. Look the other person in the eye about 60% of the time. If direct eye contact feels too intimidating, start by looking at a spot close to the person's eyes.

Lean Forward

When you are in a conversation, leaning forward indicates interest and attention. While it can be tempting to maintain distance if you are socially anxious, doing so conveys the message that you are disinterested or aloof.

Stand Up Straight

Don't slouch! Those with social anxiety tend to try and take up as little space as possible, which can mean sitting slumped over in a protective pose. Straighten your back, pull your shoulders away from your ears, and uncross your arms and legs. Taking up space helps you present yourself as more confident.

Keep Your Chin Up

Do you look at the ground when you are walking? Is your head always down when you are talking? Instead, walk with your head up and your eyes looking forward. It might feel unnatural at first, but eventually, you will become used to this more confident pose. Then you can use it when you are standing and speaking as well (it will make eye contact easier, too).

Don't Fidget

Fidgeting is an obvious sign of anxiety and nervousness. Appear more confident by keeping fidgeting to a minimum. Nervous movements, like bouncing your knee or tapping your fingers on a table, draw attention away from what you are saying and make it hard for others to focus on your message.

Avoid Your Pockets

Though it can be tempting to shove your hands in your pockets, particularly if you are worried about them shaking, doing so makes you look more anxious and less confident. Keep your hands out of your pockets to look more self-assured.

Slow Your Movements

Fast movements make you appear more anxious. Everything from hand gestures to your walking stride can make a difference; slow down and notice how you feel more confident when you take your time.

Take Larger Steps

As you slow down, try to take longer strides when you walk. Confident people take larger steps and walk with authority. Doing so will make you feel less anxious.

Watch Your Hands

Be careful about touching your face or your neck; both are indications that you feel anxious, nervous, or afraid. Confident people don't make these types of movements. However, making a steeple with your hands or holding your palms out can imply confidence.

Give a Firm Handshake

A weak or limp handshake is a sign of a lack of confidence, so work on making sure that you offer a firm hand when meeting others. After practice, it will come naturally.

Mirror the Body Language of Others

We often do this subconsciously: Sit up straighter when our companions are doing so, or gesture more frequently when we're around people who talk with their hands. Mirroring another person's body language shows you are paying attention to them, which can build understanding and strengthen a relationship. When you feel that bond, you may feel more comfortable and confident.

Speak Slowly and Clearly

Feeling nervous can often lead to rushing through our talking points and comments to end a conversation sooner. But speaking quickly can make your nervousness and self-consciousness evident. Slow down and give your audience a chance to hear what you're saying. This is a way to command respect.

A Word From Verywell

Still not sure you can muster up the confidence to change your body language? Remember that you don't have to actually be confident to change your behavior. Although it might feel strange at first, acting in a confident way will eventually feel more natural and boost your self-esteem.

At the same time, working to reduce your anxiety through other means will also help reduce nervous behaviors. If you have not already been diagnosed with SAD, visit a healthcare professional to learn about your options. You don't have to live with anxiety that impairs your ability to engage with others. Both cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication have been proven effective in the treatment of SAD.

1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Newman R, Furnham A, Weis L, et al. Non-verbal presence: How changing your behaviour can increase your ratings for persuasion, leadership and confidence. Psych. 2016;07(04):488-499. doi:10.4236/psych.2016.74050

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."