How to appear confident at work, when you secretly don't really know what's going on.

how to appear confident at work

How to appear confident at work, when you secretly don't really know what's going on.


I'm sure that I'm not the only one who's been thrown into a meeting last minute with no real clue about what it's about. Those meetings where you haven't been briefed, but you're still expected to contribute and be just as professional as though it's been in your diary for weeks. Or, you've just started a new job and you're trying to get your head around everyones names, the new processes, and where the best lunch spots are that your head is buzzing and you can't quite remember what it's about.

You want to appear confident and like you know what you're talking about. You want to impress your boss or your client and show them that you've totally got this and that you're great at what you do. But my god if someone could've given you a little more notice that would've been fab.

Not fully understanding something at work can be a little scary and intimidating, and I can say that I have spent many, many times over the last 6 years having little panics in the bathroom because I've been thrown in at the deep-end or had a meeting thrown at me 5 minutes before it's due to start.

And do you know what, here at GIW we think that's completely normal. So, if you're ever feeling exactly like that, here are a few of our tips on how to appear confident anyway.


Ask questions.

Asking questions is a great way to show that you're engaged and interested in the subject matter being presented or on the agenda. It'll enable you to contribute to the discussion without having to be the one to do all the talking, and you never know - if you ask the right questions, you may be able to catch up and ~actually~ know what's going on around you.

Sit up straight.

I don't know about anyone else, but the phrase 'fake it 'till you make it' could not be more applicable than when you're trying to navigate your career.

If you're in a meeting, sit up straight. If you're sat at your desk, sit up straight. If you're meeting someone for the first time, stand up straight. Our non-verbal cues can often give away more than what we say. So, if you're face to face with someone or giving a presentation, remember to maintain eye contact and smile. And if you're sat at your desk on the phone or frantically trying to type an email, push your shoulders back and sit up straight. Getting yourself in the right frame of mind first, can make all the difference. The more you pretend to be confident, the quicker you'll realise that you actually are.

Offer to take notes.

If you're the one taking the minutes, you're practically off the hook when it comes to being expected to actually contribute to the meeting. If you're the one that also then has to type everything up afterwards, you get a chance to go over the notes, digest and take in everything that was said by everyone else, and it may result in you learning new things for the next time you're in a similar situation, or for when this subject next comes up in discussion.

This is also a great tactic for when you're new in the office, because not only do you get a chance to sit, listen and learn, everyone who was in that room will now know your name and who you are when you email the notes round later that day!

Take five.

There's nothing like giving yourself a good old pep talk, is there? If you're feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed at work, take yourself off to the bathroom, outside, a meeting room, or just somewhere quiet for five minutes for a little 'time out'. Office's can be really busy places, and it can be really hard to calm your thoughts when there's lots of people and 3 million things going on around you. So, just take five to collect your thoughts, give yourself a pep talk and go back and smash it.