Imagine you are presenting the year's roadmap to senior leaders, including the CEO. The CEO interrupts and asks you why a specific feature is not on the roadmap. She goes on to explain that your direct competitor has the same feature and hence you should build it too.
While you were preparing for this meeting, you pre-empted the CEO's argument. As a result, you researched your competitor and prepared a convincing response. But as you are about to share your views, five others jump in and start implying how your roadmap is inadequate, and that should be re-done.
I have been in such situations many times. The one thing that mattered the most, in these meetings, was: being calm and confident.
Calmness helps me think logically and rationally. Confidence empowers me to communicate my thoughts intelligently and in a way that convinces everyone in the room.
Calmness can either be a person's nature or a result of discipline and effort. Confidence takes time but is slightly easier to build.
I wasn't always as confident as I am today. But today, I can, confidently, list the things that helped me get where I am.
- Know your product better than anyone else. Equip yourself with the relevant knowledge. This gives you the power to discuss, explain in detail and answer any questions about your product with 100% confidence.
- Taking ownership and always delivering on it increases others' trust in you. That trust grows your confidence.
- Make mistakes, be bold to accept them, and smart to learn from them. Learning from mistakes makes you a better decision-maker.
- Understand the context. Every company, team and person are different. Learn what works in different situations. Utilize this knowledge to mould your message to win-over everyone's confidence and agreement.
- Build strong relationships. Talking to a group of people who you have a strong relationship with is much easier than talking to "someone who works in your company."
- Always be honest. Honesty is the most significant enabler of confidence.
Do not confuse confidence with overconfidence. Overconfidence is, usually, an attempt to cover up a weakness. Confidence is the exact opposite, as it brings out your strengths.