Contrast these two pictures (above and below) of the talented Actor, Minnie Driver. First, look at the above picture. Her "Fingers-Forward Arms Akimbo" projects a confident, assertive, in control persona (Thumbs-Forward Arms Akimbo means something completely different - stay tuned for future posts). It can also mean "I'm ready to proceed" in some contexts. Fingers-Forward Arms Akimbo can, without question, increase your confidence if it or your comfort-level happens to be low. A temporary biochemical shift in the level of certain hormones has even been documented with this gesture, which helps to reduce stress and increase confidence. Try it on for size - in front of your subordinates and some of your peers - but very sparingly in the company of your boss.
Although in the above photo, Minnie doesn't have a sincere, felt smile - it is a very good social smile. Her head is turned and tilted to the side (not forward) and she is looking directly at the person she's smiling at - all signs of high to very high confidence and sincerity.
A key component to Ms. Driver's confidence is her stance - although you can't see her feet here, you know about where they are placed. If you want to project confidence and self assurance like Minnie, your feet should be shoulder width or slightly more apart.
In contrast, look at the photo below. Minnie does not send forth oodles of strength or confidence. With her arms at her side, this is still a fairly confident position for them, and indeed too few leaders and public figures strike this arm position - but it does not have the assertiveness that the Fingers-Forward Arms Akimbo does.
Ms. Driver's smile, although it is still a "Social Smile" is a less confident one. She's not showing any teeth and her head is tilted downward - almost as if she's maybe embarrassed or feeling inferior. She's facing straight ahead and her neck and shoulders are tense.
One very noticeable contrast between these two photos is that of Minnie's feet. Once again, although we cannot see them directly, it is obvious where her feet are in the bottom photo, they're close together. She reminds us of an enlisted man and not that of an officer. Never stand with your feet together if you want to project confidence and authority. Never. These two photos were taken minutes, maybe seconds apart - but they might as well be two different people in two different worlds.