If you want a real-life example of a confident person – someone who does what many of us are terrified to do and does it on a daily basis – look no further than your favorite professor!

Consider this: More Americans are afraid of public speaking than they are of death, according to Chapman University’s 2016 survey of American fears. College professors are public speakers nearly every day of the week!

Find a confidence model

When you consider that professors have the dubious distinction of making themselves vulnerable in front of a discerning group in addition to all their other tasks, you gain a deep appreciation for the tremendous level of confidence they need to have to do their jobs..

Think about the most effective teachers you know. Do they show signs of nerves when first addressing a class and then seem to find their groove? Check out their body language and level of eye contact. Do they use humor or other devices to diffuse difficult moments? How do they handle annoying interruptions or distractions? You’ll learn a lot about how to handle yourself with confidence by watching them in action!

Take charge

In The Confident Student, Cengage author Carol C. Kanar discusses two ways in which people are motivated: internally and externally. College students who are internally motivated (self-motivated) believe they have the power to shape their lives. They view their grades as a reflection of the effort they put into the class. Those who are externally motivated (other-motivated) think that outcomes are the result of fate or luck or what someone else does.

If you tend to place more value on what others think rather than what you think, work on your confidence by trying to become more internally motivated. In her textbook, Kanar offers these tips:

  • Become a positive thinker. Focus on your strengths, reminding yourself of what you do well.
  • Take responsibility for motivating yourself. For example, only you can make yourself study.
  • Accept that success results from effort. Apply yourself and be persistent.
  • Eliminate the nameless “they” in your thinking. Instead of thinking “they did this,” concentrate on what you

Be your own big sister or brother

Many of us have two voices inside of us: the one who does the thinking and the one who talks us down when our thinking turns fearful. The fearful one might say, “I’m not smart enough for this class. How am I ever going to pass?” while the other says, “Hang in! You’ve got this!”  

Since it’s easier to listen to a sibling than to a parent, rather than trying to “parent” yourself, be your own big sister or brother. What would you tell yourself? Boost your confidence by identifying with the big sibling and put the scared child down for a nap!

Focus on one thing

In the bestselling business management book The One Thing, author Gary Keller, co-founder of Keller Williams Realty, Inc., says success is achieved when we focus on “the one thing” each of us know we should be doing with our lives and give it the bulk of our effort. For college students that generally means concentrating on one important area of study.

Rather than overwhelming yourself with distractions (such as all the texts, emails and tweets that bombard us every day), boost your confidence each day by asking yourself what task contributes most to your “one thing” and get it done!

Look how far you’ve come

Sometimes we surprise ourselves when we view our achievements in hindsight. Write down all the things you were afraid to do five years ago and have now done. For example, “I moved away from home. I passed Physics.” Keep this list handy and refer to it whenever you feel your confidence waning.

For more tips, read “How to Boost College Students’ Confidence” and “14 Traits of a Confident College Student,” Parts 1 and 2 in this series.

Reference: Kanar, Carol C. 2014. The Confident Student, Eighth Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.