How to Boost Your Confidence Before a Stressful Event

How to Boost Your Confidence Before a Stressful Event

Aliya Rajah – Confidence Coach for Women

During a recent coaching session with one of my clients, we were developing a strategy to help her feel more confident before delivering presentations at short notice.

She asked me “Aliya, what would you do if someone gave you 5 minutes to prepare an important speech?” (By the way this question was hypothetical, her colleagues give her more a lot more than 5 minutes to prepare for a presentation!)

I said “I would most likely prepare the speech for 4 minutes, and then take 1 minute out for myself to feel calm and get in the zone.”

‘Really? Even with only 5 minutes to prepare?”

“Definitely, it’s so important for me to approach challenging situations in a calm and relaxed way.”

Let’s say you have a job interview coming up, or you need to give a presentation at work. We often focus fully on preparing the content for what we need to deliver, and place less emphasis on how we need to feel in order to deliver at a higher standard. 

If you’re someone who freaks out at the thought of any of the above events, or if you regularly imagine everything going wrong, I’d recommend creating a routine for yourself to prepare yourself for what you need to do. I am a huge believer of not just ‘rocking up’ to an event. Spending as little as 10 minutes doing this beforehand can make all the difference to your performance. In this article, I’d like to share with you a few things I do to mentally prepare me for challenging events, in hope that they will inspire you to create a motivating routine that works for you.

Start the day off well:

Firstly, how you start your day will impact how the rest of the day goes. I always like to ensure that I wake up early enough to start the day off in a relaxed and calm way. Before you leave the house in the morning, close your eyes and picture the event going really well with ideal outcomes. If you only imagine the worst case scenario, chances are you’ll feel a lot more nervous and your performance will be affected. Allow yourself to dream big and picture the event going really well!


Before you leave the house in the morning, close your eyes and picture the event going really well with ideal outcomes. If you only imagine the worst case scenario, chances are you’ll feel a lot more nervous and your performance will be affected. Allow yourself to dream big and picture the event going really well!

Have some empowering ‘me time.’

Before the big event, take some time out and go to a quiet space (either a meeting room or even in the bathroom). Spending a few minutes here beforehand can make all the difference to your performance. There are 3 things I love to do during this time, as they massively boost my confidence.

  • Firstly, I love to power pose. For me, this is putting my hands on my hips and standing with my legs shoulder width apart. Studies have shown that power posing increases testosterone, causing you to feel more confident, and reduces cortisol levels, therefore reducing stress.
  • Secondly, take some time to breathe. Numerous studies show that doing some deep breathing can greatly reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Thirdly, give yourself a powerful pep talk.This one might sound a bit crazy, but it 100% works. Tell yourself everything you need to hear to get you into a positive state for the event. Statements I often use are “You’ve got this, you’re going to be great!” “You are so confident!” Say it like you mean it and give yourself a big smile, whilst you walk out the door on your way to impress.

Now the outcome of the interview/meeting will depend on a number of factors, but by having a routine in place beforehand, you’ll feel a lot calmer and more prepared for the event itself. And by feeling more relaxed, it’s likely that you’ll perform much better under pressure.

I’d love to know how you get on. Feel free to drop me an email on

Good luck!

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Which is the best Coaching qualification for me to undertake and at what level?

Which is the best Coaching qualification for me to undertake and at what level?

It’s another one of those questions that often stumps us when thinking about our future development in Coaching!!

So we will look at two different qualification routes – the two most popular in Coaching; the ILM and the CMI


The ILM Coaching qualifications are deemed as being more prestigious with more Internal and Professional Coaches favouring these over the CMI qualifications, the ILM qualifications are the most popular/recognised in the UK and have over 80% market share.


The CMI comes into its own for developing managers and leaders in coaching as the assignments are not as academic, so these qualifications are perfect for putting your managers and leaders through; who need to use coaching as part of the day job to establish a culture of developmental leadership.

CMI Coaching Qualifications

Each qualification has 3 levels – Level 3, 5 and 7

Level 3 is aimed at those coaching at a First Line Manager level and below, both the CMI and ILM Level 3 Qualifications in Coaching are aimed at the Team Leaders/First Line Manager populace for people coaching on the Job in a Line Management role, at Level 3 you have two levels of Qualification, the Level 3 Award and Level 3 Certificate.

Level 5 is aimed at a Middle Manager level and below, with the ILM having two levels with the Certificate and Diploma and the CMI also having an Award at this level as well, the CMI Level 5 is aimed at Managers/Leaders whereas the ILM is more for Internal/External Coaches, the ILM assignments are much harder at the Certificate and Diploma level as you have to compile a Coaching Log as part of the assignments 12 hours for the ILM Level 5 Certificate and 60 hours coaching for the ILM Level 5 Diploma.

Level 7 is aimed at Senior Managers/Leaders and below, with the ILM having two levels with the Certificate and Diploma and the CMI also having an Award at this level as well, the CMI Level 7 is aimed at Managers/Leaders whereas the ILM is more for Internal/External Coaches, the ILM assignments are much harder at the Certificate and Diploma level as you have to compile a Coaching Log as part of the assignments 20 hours for the ILM Level 7 Certificate and 60 hours coaching for the ILM Level 7 Diploma.

The ILM Level 7 Certificate and Diploma are seen as the top coaching qualifications in the market place, and are especially valued amongst the HR/L&D/OD communities.


Further progression would then be to undertake the ILM Level 7 Certificate or Diploma in Coaching Supervision.

“Coaching supervision is a formal and protected time for facilitating in-depth reflection for coaches to discuss their work with someone who is experienced as a Coach”



‘Motivation. How uncool that word just sounds. It somehow by default switches us into the procrastination mode…Procrastination is the biggest, greatest nemesis of motivation and to kill procrastination is the synonym to boosting the motivation. How?

“..action itself is the best starting point for more action while trying to think your way into more motivation is an unreliable and ineffective way to create forward motivation.” Stephen Guise

JUST DO IT! This Nike slogan says it all: the research into procrastination has identified practical ways that can help overcome the tendency to procrastinate and the single most important technique is called ‘the five-minute take off and is……simply, starting to do the thing you have been putting off, no matter how little you feel like doing it.

We often believe that to do something we have to truly want to do it—to be in the right mood, to feel inspired. Wrong! Usually, to get the job done, it is enough merely to begin doing it—the initial action kick-starts the process and often brings about more action.

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato

Remember Newton’s law from school?

“An object at rest tends to stay at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion”

MOTION, get yourself into that motion, just get going.

And if your ego starts getting excited about the ideas of dropping 2 dress sizes by the end of the week, learning Chinese fluently within a year or sitting 60 min every morning for meditation – laugh at it, as attempting such ambitions will likely make your mind freak out and find excuses on how to never get started!

Instead, have a mini target, your defenses go down and you (easily!) take that first (and hardest!) baby step—creating momentum that will likely keep you going.

This applies to EVERYTHING.

If you dream of  bikini body – start eating more greens and find sport activity that you enjoy (or simply join one of our Wellness Designer Holiday or/and Wellness/Nutrition Programs)

If you’re procrastinating (getting overwhelmed) with your business planning or creating your lifestyle, break your target task down into the smallest possible chunk and just do THAT! You don’t need to come up with the entire life plan—just start writing down, step by step with focus and single-tasking, consistently adding the tasks and actioning them: 1 in and 1 out.

You don’t need to write your whole life script. You don’t need the whole marketing plan—just 1 idea. You don’t need to eat perfectly today—just start with making 1 healthy nutritional choice and observe how you feel?

JUST GET STARTED. Small steps for big results. Keep feeding your motivation and it will feed your goals.

Your Wellness Designer x Aneta

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Why I do not make New Year Resolutions…

Why I do not make New Year Resolutions…

Philippe Mathijs

This is the time of the year when people start looking forward to the new year, new beginnings and make their resolutions on how the next year will be different and wonderful.

For the past few years, friends, colleagues and family have asked me, with a hint of anticipation “What is your new year resolution?” and I have answered “I don’t have any”. Have I become a grumpy old man, have I become the Grinch?? May be….or may be, there is another reason…

An idea stays an idea until there is an action plan behind it…

Many of us will start the year with a resolution like “I am going to lose 10 kg” or “I will get fit” or “I will learn another language” and leave it like that. On a good year, we will stick to our resolution until the first hurdle or a few weeks, whichever comes first. What about making it stick by assigning a deadline to it so we have no choice but to work backwards from the end game? For example: Instead of “I am going to lose 10kg”, register for say the Spartan Race in November 2019 knowing that, you have no choice but become fit or it will be near impossible to complete. Then, decide your training plan: what do you need to achieve on month one, month two and so on.

If your goal (to use our example above) was to learn another language, what about you book your holiday in the country that speaks that language so your survival J during your holiday depends on you knowing that language. Then you know what you need to know by when.

All of a sudden, that airy fairy new year resolution becomes a goal that matters to you because it has a date and it has the ability to fail and not be a nice experience if you failed.

In the same way, how much is your company or your department vision worth if it doesn’t have a roadmap to help you achieve it, if it doesn’t have steps to move from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow? Each year, I both coach and create a yearly vision for my department that fits with the company one but what I have found to be the secret of a successful year when we deliver is that it is not MY vision…it is OUR vision.

The secret of a great goal is that it will affect more than you

Last year, I was privileged enough to attend a Tony Robbins event called Date with Destiny. The premise behind it is for the participant to understand they can literally create their own destiny, that truly we are in charge of our own decisions and many more concepts. One of the concepts that stuck with me is when Tony said that, great decisions or great goals affect more than just yourself because humans are here to give. And this got me thinking…

One of my goals for next year is to have more coaching agreements, more clients and it dawned on me that, the real reason behind it is actually not because I can generate revenue but because, for me, what truly matters is the impact I can have on those clients, helping them achieve their goals and be a part of their journey.

Let’s go back to our first example of losing weight and let’s imagine I am a parent of a young child, of school age that has sports day at school. Let’s imagine I am not super fit and prefer to look at sports day from the side rather than take part. What would happen if instead of making my goal “lose 10 kg” I made it to be “Help my child win the relay race” or whatever

the event is. All of a sudden, I am no longer making it about me. I am making it greater than me and helping making my child proud of his/her dad. Not wanting to let my child down, I might decide to go for jogs or gym or anything that will improve my wellbeing. The weight loss (in my example) becomes secondary but will also happen naturally and I, as a dad, will feel much prouder that I help my child achieve something that if I had lost weight just for me.

If we go back to the example of setting a team vision, last year, I set it up as a team exercise: all my team members created our department vision instead of me imparting it on them. What it did was to instantly create a joint sense of ownership. All of a sudden, goals mattered to them as those were our goals, that we created. What it meant is that together we were working towards the same objective, facing obstacles together and achieving them really mattered.

So, you see…I will not be making a set a new year’s resolution in the traditional sense. I will set myself goals that really matter to me and that will impact many people positively. The goals will be tied to dates, so I cannot escape and not deliver. Let’s be honest: no one likes failing and let other people down, and it is something I definitely do not want to do either.

FESTIVE STRESS – A guide for employers and employees.

FESTIVE STRESS – A guide for employers and employees.

Neelam Kaul – Global Leadership Coach

Christmas is a time of relaxation and celebration. It may be the most wonderful time of the year, however for many city workers I have come across, it is often a great source of stress. According to experts more people become depressed or anxious during the holiday period than any other time of the year.

The reality is that many city workers feel exhausted, stressed, report a lack of motivation and feel hungover during most of this period. It can be difficult to maintain motivation with end of year deadlines and major distractions at this time of the year.

Employees seem to really feel the additional stress. This can be from being overwhelmed by responsibilities, unrealistic deadlines to finish of projects, colleagues taking leave before year end, demanding clients and office parties. All leaving you with even less time for anything.

Employers also note that productivity declines in the weeks before the Christmas holidays. This maybe from carefree and relaxed employees getting into the festive spirit but unfortunately a large part of it is from burnout and not festive cheer.

Below are a few tips for employers and employees to help you avoid being “Stressed In The City” over the festive period:


  • As an employer you can allow your team to remote work and have more autonomy over their work schedule especially at this time of year. This saves time commuting in and out of work when they can use that time to work or run personal errands. This helps them cope with the demands of the festive season.
  • If your Christmas party is on a weekday then consider giving staff a few hours to recover so they can come into work later but be productive while they are in the office. Relaxing the dress code is always welcome.
  • Offer flexible holiday schedules so people can take off time when they need for their holiday preparations and celebrations. Another option is to let employees carry forward holidays rather than the traditional “use or lose” policy of 31st December.
  • Make end of year goals realistic for your team. Be mindful that you are not overloading your team unnecessarily when some things can wait until January.
  • Make a point of communicating with your team and find out how they are coping as they wrap up things for year end. Even ask them if they do actually want to participate in Secret Santa! (As that seems to cause an additional headache for many!)
  • Give bonuses early for holiday shopping.
  • Offer a shopping day between November to January.
  • Show appreciation for all your employees, especially those who work during the holiday period.
  • Give every employee a gift



Plan and Prioritise

  • Be clear on what you want to achieve, set realistic goals and strip your to-do list.
  • Having unrealistic deadlines only adds to the stress of this busy period. Look at your to do list? Can some tasks wait? Prioritise and focus on one thing at a time or group similar tasks together.
  • Schedule 10 minute slots every few days to declutter your desk or inbox. This will give you a sense of control and help you upon your return after the holidays.

Minimize Distractions

  • Minimize email and phone distractions by turning off notifications and checking at set times. Even book yourself an empty meeting room where you can focus on tasks without interruptions.
  • Make sure you allow realistic time frames for tasks. Do not make back to back plans and be careful not to underestimate how long tasks take or you will soon find yourself drowning in commitments.

Learn to say “No”

  • Learn to say “No”. If you do not have time to commit to meetings, projects or provide your input make it clear. Consider making a counter-offer and compromise. It is important to set boundaries and manage expectations but still be seen as reasonable and approachable.

Health & Wellbeing

  • Take breaks to recharge and replenish your energy levels. Being away from your desk helps collect thoughts and clear your head so you can focus better when you return.
  • Exercise where possible, eat well and try to reduce caffeine/alcohol that will only stimulate the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Get a good amount of sleep

Finally make a conscious effort to unplug and switch off once you have put on your “Out of Office”.

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Want to be more productive? Then do fewer things.

Want to be more productive? Then do fewer things.

Neelam Kaul – Global Leadership Coach

We can spend a lot of time being busy but not productive. It is easy to be busy, however to be productive requires much more thought, awareness and work.

You may have heard the expression, “busy fools” and it’s easy to get into a pattern of being busy, but not actually achieve anything. How many times have you been busy all day in the office yet your to-do list hasn’t gotten any smaller? Sound familiar?

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but how we use this time is the key to a greater work-life balance. After all, if we are productive at work, we will have more time and energy for activities outside work – especially at the weekends without any work hangovers infringing on our free time.

Here are 10 alternative habits that we can develop to be more productive:

1.  Trim your to-do list.

A starting point would be to reduce your to-do list. By taking a “less is more” approach to our to-do lists we actually accomplish things that matter. Concentrate on high value activities, ones where you actually add value.  Activities that move you forward towards your goals, needs and desires. Automate repetitive and recurring tasks by using apps or creating your own system.  When you write down fewer priorities you will achieve more.

2.  Observe the 80/20 rule. (Pareto’s Principle).

80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So, in the workplace 80% of your results come from 20% of your actual work. We can spend most of our time doing things that look important but are actually not that important on reflection. Take a step back, reflect and find your 20% and concentrate on that part.

3.   Learn to say “No”!

Don’t give away your time so easily and agree to do everything that is asked of you. If you don’t have time to commit to a project, attend a meeting or provide your input, explain that you are not available but do consider making a counter-offer and compromise. It is important to set boundaries and manage expectations but still be seen as reasonable and approachable.

4.   Focus on one task.

Focus your attention on completing one thing at a time – less of the multi-tasking. We can sometimes spend all our time zoning in and out of tasks. It is much more productive to start a task and complete it before moving on to the next one. Focus on one task and finish it to completion, rather than having many tasks started and nothing completed. Another tip while you are in this mindset is to group similar tasks together. Maybe time yourself, you will become more aware and more realistic of how long it takes to do particular tasks leading you to be more efficient when planning. Difficult tasks should be handled first thing in the morning when your mind is fresh. Once you have completed it and made progress you will feel motivated to do the next task.

5.  Limit meeting attendance.

Whilst some meetings are mandatory and unavoidable, check if your attendance is actually compulsory. Maybe you can delegate and send other members of your team in your place. Not only does this build trust within the team, they may also enjoy the variety and extra responsibility. Another option is to be included on the circulation of the meeting note so that you do not miss the key issues and action from the meeting. For meetings you must attend or conduct, try and have a written agenda.

6.   Learn to delegate.

Delegation when done in the right way can be very efficient. It is important to know when to delegate, how to delegate and who to delegate to – you can always be on hand to provide support. Also consider reaching out to other members of your team and accept and admit that you have too much on your plate. By reaching out, you are demonstrating to more junior members of your team that it is fine to ask for help and are leading by example.

7.   Cut out distractions.

We are surrounded by technology, whether it is mobile or email as well as co-workers who will have queries. Get into a habit of putting your phone away or at least turning off notifications and just checking from time to time. This will increase your concentration to get on with completing your to-do list. Better still, if you have a time sensitive deadline or project, find a room where you know you can just focus and not be disturbed.

8.   Reduce email notifications.

Check emails at various points throughout the day rather than having them distract you constantly, taking your focus and attention away from your present task. RAFT is a handy acronym many people use, Read, Act, File or Trash. Or the 4 D’s works equally as well. Delete it, Do it, Delegate it or Defer it!

9.  Take regular breaks.

In between tasks, stretch your body, go for a stroll at lunchtime, find a few minutes to socialise and build meaningful relationships with your co workers and team.

10.  Leave the office/Switch off.

You will find some days you are more productive than others. When you find you are really behind, it may be better to go home earlier, take some time to rest and come back energised for the next day. When you limit work hours your focus will improve.

Finally, don’t forget to take all your vacation days. Time away from the office recharges you and gives you a chance to spend time on productivity – boosting activities such as exercising, sleeping, travelling, outdoor activities and socialising.

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