Confidence is a tough thing to summon out of thin air. When you’re feeling off your game, recovering from a setback, or even just having a bad hair day, conquering a business meeting or party full of intimidating people can feel like the last thing you’re capable of. The good news is that confidence can be faked, and acting confident can make you actually feel more confident.

Pep talk time: this gives you a lot of power! While you can’t necessarily control what people think of you or whether they like you (and really, that’s not worth the effort of worrying over anyway), you are the one with the most control over your personal narrative. You’re the one who tells and shows others who you are. You’re also the one who decides whether or not you’re worthy of whatever it is that has you intimidated. Nobody will ever fall from the sky and grant you permission to acknowledge how awesome you are, so you have to give it to yourself and show the world the version of you that you’re most proud of! Try these quick tricks to appear confident even on the toughest of days, and soon you’ll start to believe it yourself!

1. Stand up straight. You’ve heard this one a thousand times before, and that’s because it’s true! In this day and age of perpetually hunching over laptops, it can be really tough to maintain good posture. It can even feel unnatural at first. Still, the way you carry yourself is one of the first messages others receive about you.

2. Be still. Try your best not to sway from side to side when you’re talking to someone. Keep your body steady. If you’re someone who fidgets with your hands (which is most of us) be aware of the habit. If you can’t focus on keeping your hands still, find something to do with them, like holding a coffee or putting them in your pockets (in a not-too-standoffish way).

3. Don’t be apologetic. If you’ve done something that warrants an apology, by all means, offer one — but how often does that actually happen in casual interaction? When you make a slew of apologies between moments of small talk, it usually reads more like an apology for existing than for whatever perceived annoyance you caused.

4. Smile. Besides just being the polite thing to do, it puts people at ease and shows that you’re open to others.

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5. Make eye contact. This is another one that’s cliched for a reason. When you do this, you show respect for the person you’re speaking with and, in some ways, command respect yourself.

6. Be friendly. This might be second nature, but it’s worth noting just in case! For one thing, this is simply what decent people do, but it’s also a great way to communicate to the company you’re keeping that you feel at ease and don’t see them as a threat, because — you guessed it — you’re confident!

7. Cut the trash talk. Everyone gossips now and then, and it would probably be unrealistic to tell you to cut it out altogether. Still, the time and place for talking trash about others is usually not among a group of people you want to appear confident in front of. It can easily give the impression that you feel the need to tear down others to feel better about yourself, or that you’ll throw anyone under the bus to gain the favor of whoever you happen to be talking to that day.

8. Imagine yourself comfortably taking up space. We’re told that physically taking up a lot of space exudes confidence and maybe even gives us more power, so why not visualize it too? When we’re afraid, we tend to want to shrink ourselves, both literally and with our words. When we’re in this mindset, it’s all about getting through the day unnoticed, because we assume that if we get noticed it must mean we’ve done something wrong or embarrassing. Instead, close your eyes and visualize yourself and your personality filling the exact amount of space you need instead folding into yourself. Imagine it feeling amazing and not at all exposed like you feared. Strangely enough, it works!

9. Speak slowly. When we’re nervous, we speak faster and higher than we realize. Keep an even tone and don’t be afraid to speak at a speed that seems a bit slow to you. To the people outside your own head, it probably sounds like just the right pace!

10. Avoid pointing out your insecurities out of the blue. When you’re having a vulnerable conversation with a trusted friend, it can be very rewarding and healing to get real with them about your biggest insecurities. Unfortunately though, many of us tend to point out our perceived flaws around brand new acquaintances or people we’re trying to seem at ease with, as if we have to call them out before someone else does. People may not even notice any of those “flaws” until you point them out on your own or downplay a compliment. When you talk poorly about yourself, people believe you!

11. Know your strengths and play to them. When you’re feeling most vulnerable, try to focus attention on the things you’re great at or even the clothes you look best in — both to the company you’re keeping and in your own self-talk!

12. Try things on your own. The more practice you get trying new things on your own (like workout classes, hobbies or even vacations), the better you’ll be at pushing through nerves when you’re trying to fake confidence in more high-stakes situations. Your “practice” experiences can be in situations that only consist of random people you’ll never have to see again — like strangers in a new class or passersby in a neighborhood you rarely hang out in — so that you feel comfortable taking social risks. This way, you can prove to yourself that if you make a fool of yourself trying something new, it’s not the end of the world, and that being in a room full of new people isn’t always scary!

13. Remember that nobody has it all figured out. Any notion that someone else is more “together” than you is probably just perception. It means that person has figured out how to showcase what they’re great at and downplay their insecurities. While some people are more confident than others, everyone is faking it ’til they make it on some level. Remember that when you’re feeling intimidated!

14. Ask people about themselves. People love talking about themselves, and when they do, it takes the pressure and attention off you. When you take a genuine interest in someone’s life and engage with them, it often leads them to remember you as a lovely and fascinating person — even if you barely said a single thing to them that wasn’t a question! When you do this, you get to just focus on being a great listener instead of trying to impress someone, which is impressing enough on its own!

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