(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.)
Heading into a job interview, presentation, or a raise negotiation?
All these career “asks” take some amount of nerve mixed with confidence. Not only do you need to believe you're worthy of the “ask” in question, you need to muster up the courage to make that initial request as well. Visualizing asking your boss for a bump in your salary of five percent seems a lot easier than when you are standing in front of her sweating, perplexed, playing with your watchband and feeling like a deer in headlights.
(MORE: Lessons From 'The Confidence Code')
Here are six things you should do before any big ask:
1. Practice, practice practice. While it's true some people are born naturally confident, for the rest of us it takes practice. The more you work on your tennis game, yoga moves or Photoshop talents — the better you become at it. Think of confidence as another skill you need to practice, learn, perfect and earn.
2. Get a power outfit.
In medieval times, knights had armor to protect them in battle. In 2014, people need to be dressed with a modern suit of armor. Get a go-to power outfit. It could be a dress, suit or even a blazer and dark jeans. Whatever you choose needs to make you look great while also feeling confident and influential. When we look our best we're often more up for a work challenge.
(MORE: 10 Skills for Today's Job Market)
3. Pinpoint your fear. We often lose our confidence when we aren't prepared. Confidence is learned through experience. Do your homework before your next meeting. Do the research and know the tough numbers and facts off the top of your head as opposed to checking notes during a meeting or presentation. Don't give yourself the opportunity to fail. Focus on using your knowledge and expertise to win over your boss, co-worker or client.
4. Videotape yourself in advance.
It's very tough to picture ourselves in high stress situations when we aren't at the office. Videotape yourself the night before a presentation, business trip or sales meeting. You'll see points where you stumble or use filler words (like, um, ya know). Why are you stumbling in these sections? You aren't as prepared as you should be. If you haven't convinced yourself of your words than you won't be able to convince anyone else.
(MORE: Conquering Your Fears)
You'll also be aware of your body language. Do you flip your hair, tug your shirt, adjust your glasses, lean, tap a foot or play with a pen while speaking? These are all dead giveaways to a listener that you are not confident.
5. Speak up.
With confidence comes respect, so learn how to insert your expert opinion into the workplace conversation. Before your next staff meeting, put on your go-to power outfit and plan to add your two cents on the meeting's agenda.
This is the time to change your company's perspective of you. Become a voice your boss and co-workers search for in a crowded room. Don't bite your tongue if you've got a great idea — announce it.
6. Don't stress over stress.
Everyone gets stressed out from time to time. Instead of thinking of that stress as a confidence buster — use it to your advantage. We often get stressed out when we're working on a challenging task. Stress occurs in the anticipation of working on an assignment outside of our comfort zone. Seek out these types of opportunities. If you are getting complacent or bored at the office, that's when laziness and sloppy work ethic come into play.
Jill Jacinto is an AOL Jobs contributor and Associate Director of Editorial & Communications for WORKS by Nicole Williams, a career website for professional women.
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