Confidence remains one of the top traits skilled professionals look for when hiring or promoting a candidate. Highly sought-after yet rarely possessed, more than 60 participants from Victoria Junior College (VJC) gathered for a webinar on 28 July 2021 to hone this critical skill.
At the invitation of VJC, guest speaker Jacqueline Stansilas (on behalf of Scholarship Guide) introduced participants to the fundamentals of confidence-building. She explained that it comprises soft and hard skills that must be cultivated equally. She highlighted, “There are no shortcuts. To build true and lasting confidence, one must be willing to do the hard work of self-acceptance and development. Most people focus on the outward appearance but sorely fail to invest in developing their inner self, resulting in a decent display on the outside but miserable anxiety on the inside.”
Leading her presentation, Stansilas candidly shared her journey in communicating confidently, from chairing her class to leading extracurricular pursuits. Upon earning a BA in Professional Communication, Stansilas eventually represented organisations through hosting and networking events. She encouraged students to clinch every opportunity to practice public speaking. “Even if you are giving a thank-you speech at your birthday party,” she added.
Elaborating on soft skills, Stansilas emphasised the importance of knowing oneself. Knowing what empowers you is key to unlocking personal confidence. Be it working out and feeling comfortable in your skin or participating in activities you excel in, these are some ways to build inner confidence. Additionally, joining social gatherings allows you to organically enhance relational skills with a diverse audience.
In a world that chants “fake it until you make it”, Stansilas reiterates the opposite. She strongly believes authenticity is the way forward. Recognising that being “real is rare”, Stansilas invited students to tap into their originality and prize their distinct personalities. “Coming across artificial breaks your connection, reduces engagement, and harms your reputation,” she warned. Always choose to be genuine rather than manipulative.
Adding to this list, Stansilas reminded participants to embrace their unique array of skill sets, experiences, and roots. “Undervaluing yourself encourages others to undervalue you too,” she said.
Without skipping a beat, Stansilas shared the hard skills that could be easily learned and applied by anyone. Some of these pointers included eliminating filler words such as “um, ah, like, and I think” amongst others, maintaining eye contact with the audience and not your notes, as well as being socially aware and bouncing off your audience through connecting questions or statements. Addressing note-takers, Stansilas shared a PREP Framework that can be employed to communicate confidently and effectively. She broke down the acronym: Point, Reason, Experience/Evidence, and Point. Expounding on this checklist, Stansilas advised participants who are keen to communicate confidently and effectively to begin by identifying the main point. Next, clearly explain your reason as to why you believe this. Then, share a relevant experience or evidence to support your case. Lastly, reinforce your key point.
Stansilas concluded her presentation by sharing several practical bonus tips to give oneself a confidence boost and nuggets of wisdom from confident professionals in various fields such as Broadcast, Consultancy, and Law.
During the final segment of this hour-long event, a question posed by the floor was: “How can one remain confident when they start getting nervous before a presentation? Have you ever felt that way?”
Identifying with the question, Stansilas shared that her anxiety stemmed from being a perfectionist. She explained, “When I stopped trying to be perfect and instead decided to do my best, the anxiety left. So knowing yourself is key. Also, remember to take deep, long breaths to steady your heartbeat. Oftentimes, people get lightheaded because their heart is pounding twice as hard, and they become more anxious, thinking they have forgotten their content. Always maintain your breathing because it shows in your voice and exposes your lack of confidence.”
Scholarship Guide was honoured and heartened to be a part of this successful event. We look forward to seeing students demonstrate confidence in their future endeavours.