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Confidence Building Exercises and Workshops for All Ages

Last updated on 24th June 2024

Being more confident can help us to excel in all areas of our lives. Self-confidence is a belief in ourselves; it means that we trust in our skills, abilities and competencies. Self-confidence helps us to tackle challenges head-on and bounce back more quickly after a setback. 

Confidence levels vary between people and how confident we feel can also be affected by negative life events, trauma and the actions of others. When we are feeling low in confidence it can affect our self-esteem and sense of self-worth. 

If you get shy during public speaking or extremely anxious before a job interview, the good news is that you have the power to change how confident you are. Confidence is a skill that can be nurtured, developed and strengthened through targeted workshops and self-help techniques.

Self-Reflection and Positive Affirmations

Self-affirmation theory is a psychological theory that was popularised in the late 1980s by Claude Steele. The theory is underpinned by the idea that humans are motivated to maintain and protect their self-worth even in the face of threats. 

By using self-reflection and self-affirmation techniques we can cultivate a mindset of self-belief and improve our psychological resilience.

Positive affirmations are popular in self-help circles. They are positively loaded phrases or statements that are usually snappy and memorable. Positive affirmations can be used to challenge and disrupt negative thoughts that we have about ourselves. 

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have recently found that using positive affirmations and demonstrating self-compassion, for even one minute per day, can actually boost mental health.

People may use positive affirmations to:

Young-women-meditating
  • Motivate them
  • Boost their self-esteem
  • Inspire positive change
  • Help them to overcome self-doubt

Some simple, positive affirmations you can try to build confidence include:

  • I am strong
  • I am confident
  • I am powerful
  • I get a little better every day
  • These feelings will pass
  • You’ve got this
  • It’s okay to do things a little at a time
  • I am making progress
  • I am not afraid to be myself
  • Failure is an opportunity to do better

We know that self-confidence comes from within; however, we often internalise other people’s thoughts and words and allow them to change how we feel about ourselves. Repeating some simple, positive affirmations to ourselves can start to counteract harmful words and judgements that we hold onto from our parents, teachers, friends or bosses. 

Setting and Achieving Goals

Setting goals can help you to:

  • Focus
  • Measure your progress
  • Stay motivated
  • Increase your productivity
  • Build skills

Being self-confident also means recognising our mistakes (rather than telling ourselves we are always perfect) and using them as an opportunity for learning and growth. Even with the best preparation, sometimes everything doesn’t work out as we planned. When faced with this you have the option to:

  1. Feel like a failure and give up.
  2. Recognise your mistakes and do better next time.

Choosing the second option will help to grow your self-confidence and resilience. People who approach life in this way are sometimes said to have a growth mindset.

The Role of the Growth Mindset in Confidence

Our mindset can influence how we think, feel and behave, as well as how we interact with others. Having a positive mindset allows us to learn, appreciate the moment and look forward to the future. It also helps us feel better about ourselves. A negative mindset means that we may feel pessimistic and expect things to go wrong, so we stop trying. This can be very damaging to our self-esteem and self-worth.

Many psychologists believe that adopting a growth mindset can help us to build confidence. A growth mindset is a belief that we can all learn and grow our skills, talents and abilities through hard work, learning and perseverance. People who adopt a growth mindset often display greater levels of self-confidence and resilience. 

The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities and talents are already predefined. A fixed mindset can be very limiting if you want to grow your self-confidence. 

  • A growth mindset represents freedom
  • A fixed mindset represents limitation
  • A growth mindset perseveres and learns from mistakes
  • A fixed mindset avoids challenges and fears failure
  • A growth mindset wants to try new things
  • A fixed mindset can get stuck in a rut
  • A growth mindset strives to learn and adapt
  • A fixed mindset resists change

Learning to harness the power of a growth mindset can help you to:

  • Build confidence
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve self-esteem

 It is never too early to start encouraging a growth mindset. In fact, in our formative years (0-4) we are learning constantly and are well placed to start learning perseverance and self-belief. The importance of a growth mindset is discussed in Early Years Foundation Studies (EYFS), as a growth mindset can help to facilitate learning, nurture resilience and perseverance and encourage curiosity – all of which are key elements in early years education. 

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills

Fear of public speaking is quite common, especially in introverts. For some people, a fear of public speaking can turn into an actual phobia. Learning how to overcome your nerves and communicate with confidence can give you an advantage in social situations, work presentations and job interviews. 

To hone your public speaking skills and build your confidence, consider trying some of the following tips:

  • Learn to relax and manage your nerves by practising deep breathing techniques, mindfulness or a brief period of quiet meditation.
  • Record audio or video of yourself speaking and learn to get comfortable listening to or watching it (this might feel a little awkward at first!). This gives you a chance to analyse your performance and look for areas for improvement such as pauses, pronunciation, any words you overuse etc.
  • Be positive and imagine yourself delivering a great speech and impressing everyone.
  • Start with an engaging opener and end with a strong conclusion. This will help to keep your audience’s attention and leave a lasting impression on them.
  • Learn to tell a story to make your speech more creative, interesting and memorable. If you feel that your audience is more focused on your words and what you are saying rather than who is saying them, you may start to feel less anxious.
  • Learn to accept constructive feedback and use it to improve your performance.
  • Keep practising just like you would if you were learning lines for a play. The more you practise and memorise what you want to say the more confidently you will deliver your speech.

Remember, it is totally normal to get nervous before giving a speech or presentation, even if it is only in front of a small group of people. Try to relax, breathe deeply and speak slowly. If something goes wrong, it is not the end of the world – you can always do it better next time.  

Building-confidence- practicing-talk- in front- of -mirror

Body Language and Assertiveness Training

Many people praise the influence of the power pose on confidence levels. To strike a powerful pose you should:

  • Check your posture – stand up straight and tall
  • Take up space – opening up your stance can make you feel more powerful (there are many examples of this in the animal kingdom!)
  • Hold your head high – this is seen as a sign of confidence, self-assurance and authority
  • Hold eye contact – this can seem unnatural at first, but maintaining eye contact shows people that you are engaged and paying attention
  • Get to know your reflection – practising in a mirror can help you feel more comfortable with power poses so you carry yourself in a more natural way in public

Assertiveness is the middle ground between passive communication and aggressive communication. Learning to be assertive can help us to feel more empowered and confident. If we lack assertiveness it can lead to people taking advantage of us. People who struggle to assert themselves often have problems saying ‘no’ to requests which can lead to stress and overwhelm and has an impact on their mental health. 

If you struggle to be assertive, you may want to try some assertiveness training to help you to:

  • Learn to be assertive not aggressive
  • Feel more empowered and in control of your life
  • Learn to say ‘no’ to others

Being assertive is about communicating confidently and clearly using both verbal and non-verbal cues. 

Creative Expression and Performing Arts

Doing activities that we enjoy boosts endorphins (feel good hormones) that can make us feel happier and more confident. Many people find that their mental health benefits from pursuing some form of creative expression. 

We can learn to express ourselves through different creative mediums, such as:

  • Drama
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Singing
  • Art

However, many of us lack the confidence to believe in ourselves or try new things. We may start to employ negative ‘self-talk’ such as ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I will fail’ or ‘Everyone will laugh at me’. In fact, often, the most daunting part is walking into a room full of strangers for the first time when we start a new class or hobby.

It is a common misconception that only extroverts or extremely confident individuals can flourish in performing arts. Those with a more introverted personality, or who are lacking in self-confidence, can also enjoy the benefits of performing including acting, singing and music – plus even the most confident people often experience butterflies before going on stage!

Some tips to developing self-confidence when performing include:

  • Swap negative self-talk for positive: think I can do this. I will do great. I’ve got this.
  • Learn ways to relax and calm your nerves, such as deep breathing techniques.
  • Prepare and practise thoroughly. Just like with public speaking, the more we have practised a routine, lines or a composition, the more confident we feel in our abilities.
  • Enjoy yourself – creative expression should be fun and mood boosting, so don’t take it so seriously that the fun stops.
  • Focus on yourself, not the audience. Self-confidence comes from within.

Team Building and Leadership Development

High levels of confidence are essential if you want to be an effective leader both in the workplace and beyond. If you have ever had a boss who micromanaged your every move or a teacher who criticised your work for no reason, the chances are that they were trying to cover up their own lack of self-confidence by projecting this onto other people. 

Being a confident leader can help you to:

  • Confront challenges
  • Make tough decisions
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Inspire others

In addition to being self-confident, other qualities you need to be a good leader include:

  • Taking responsibility
  • Being accountable for your actions
  • Employing active listening techniques
  • Leading by example
  • Communicating clearly

Developing the above qualities can also help you to feel more confident. 

Teamwork is also an essential skill to have in addition to leadership. The success of a project or company is often down to a collaborative effort rather than one individual. Leading a team of individuals with different personalities and varying levels of self-confidence can be a challenge. To boost your team’s confidence, you might want to try some team building exercises. These exercises are designed to help people to work together to solve problems and showcase their skills. 

There are many different team building exercises to consider, from simple role plays to the famous ‘trust fall’ to sports or outdoor pursuits. You might want to start small then build up to something more challenging, just be sure to keep in mind being inclusive.

Team building exercises can help us to be more confident because they force us to:

  • Step out of our comfort zone
  • Communicate with each other
  • Work towards a common goal
  • Demonstrate our individual strengths (and weaknesses)
team-building-excercise-2

Many of us may feel more comfortable celebrating when we achieve success as a group rather than giving ourselves an individual pat on the back. Team building gives us the chance to enjoy our collective achievements whilst reflecting on our individual contributions. When we work alongside others, we can also share knowledge and improve our own skills.

A positive workplace culture can help to cultivate greater levels of confidence and resilience in workers. In turn, this can improve output, improve employee satisfaction and reduce workplace conflict. 

Although high levels of self-belief and self-confidence can help you to thrive in education and the workplace, your confidence needs to be backed up by competence, skills and the willingness to learn. We can believe in ourselves whilst striving to improve and acknowledging the importance of continuous learning. 

A quick recap of how to build confidence and resilience at work and beyond:

  • Do something that scares you (it’s okay to start small)
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things
  • Be confident, but not arrogant – there is always more to learn
  • Encourage confidence by building others up rather than tearing them down
  • Learn to work well as part of a team
  • Listen to the ideas of others
  • Show initiative and learn from mistakes

Conclusion

Confidence is key to effective communication and strong leadership. It is also central to developing resilience and learning to overcome challenges both at work and in our personal lives. Contrary to popular belief, confidence is not something that is innate, rather, it is a skill that can be taught, learned and strengthened using a variety of techniques including self-help affirmations, creative expression, assertiveness training and team building exercises.  

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About the author

Vicky Miller

Vicky Miller

Vicky has a BA Hons Degree in Professional Writing. She has spent several years creating B2B content and writing informative articles and online guides for clients within the fields of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, recruitment, education and training. Outside of work she enjoys yoga, world cinema and listening to fiction podcasts.



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