Last updated July 6, 2024

If you are running a workshop or seminar on developing self-confidence for employees at work or adults in general, here are some of our favourite confidence building activities and exercises.

Confidence building activities

Confidence-Building Activities and Exercises for Adults

1. Gratitude Journal

Intention: This is one of the simplest yet most effective confidence building activities for adults that you can use in a training session.

This is because one of the pillars of self confidence is positivity, i.e. having a positive outlook and attitude. Focusing on the good things that happen to you and that you should be grateful for, helps you focus your mind on positivity.

Instructions: Ask your participants to start working on their own and give each of them a pen and paper.

Instruct each person to jot down three things they have in life, for which they feel grateful.

After they have done this, ask participants to pair up.

At the end, you can run a full class discussion on the importance of acknowledging the positive things in life.

You can easily adapt this activity for teaching online using a virtual conferencing platform with breakout rooms for the part of the exercise in which participants work in pairs.

What You Will Need: Pen and paper.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did focusing on gratitude help improve your confidence?
  • Did you find it hard to think of things for which to feel grateful? Why or why not?
  • How can practising gratitude regularly help your overall self-confidence?

2. Achievements Collage

Intention: This confidence-building exercise helps participants focus on their past achievements.

Part of building your self confidence is to acknowledge your achievements as it is too easy to take for granted the things you do and not give yourself enough credit for what you accomplish.

Creating a collage helps the participants become engaged by using creativity and it is also a good way to involve visual learners a bit more.

Instructions: Participants start by working on their own.

Provide them with materials to make a collage, such as magazines or printed images, scissors, poster boards and glue and ask them to create a collage of images and words that represent their achievements.

Then, have participants work in small groups to discuss, before sharing their ideas with the whole class.

If you are using this activity as a team building activity at work, to boost a team’s confidence, you can ask your participants to work in groups and create a collage of the team’s achievements.

This confidence building activity can be adapted for teaching online by using a video conferencing tool that includes a virtual whiteboard.

What You Will Need:

  • Glue
  • Poster boards
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did reflecting on your achievements make you feel?
  • Did you learn something new about yourself from this activity? If yes, what?
  • How can recognizing your achievements help you with future challenges?

3. Acknowledging Achievements

Intention: Like the previous exercise, this is one of the confidence building activities that focuses on acknowledging your own achievements and also on giving positive feedback to others about their achievements.

This is why it is a particularly useful confidence-building exercise to run with employees, to help them feel engaged and improve a team’s collaboration and trust.

Instructions: Ask participants to start working on their own and to write a list of their recent achievements. These achievements can be big or small, it does not matter.

Have participants work in pairs and share their lists with each other.

Encourage them to give encouragement and positive feedback to their partner.

Hold a whole group discussion to finish.

This confidence building exercise can be easily adapted for remote teaching using a video conferencing platform.

What You Will Need: Pens and paper.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did it feel to share your achievements with someone else?
  • How did receiving feedback from your partner impact your confidence?
  • How can acknowledging achievements regularly benefit your self-esteem?

4. Smile

Intention: This is one of the most effective confidence-building activities to address two points in relation to confidence building.

The first one has to do with a positive attitude and smiling can definitely help us feel more positive.

The second point has to do with how our body language and physicality can affect not only how other people feel about us, but also how adopting a positive body language can help us feel positive too.

Indeed, there has been research on smiling to show that just the act of smiling can make us feel better as the body and the brain continuously send each other feedback (i.e., it is not just the brain that influences the body but also the body that has a direct impact on our feelings).

Instructions: Ask participants to work in pairs.

Give each participant a short piece of text (e.g., a couple of paragraphs) and ask one person in the pair to read it aloud with a very serious face and gloomy body language.

Then ask the same person to read the same thing while smiling and with a cheerful attitude.

Ask the participants to switch roles, for both to have a chance to read the text with both attitudes.

Ask pairs to discuss and give each other feedback, before starting a whole class discussion.

What You Will Need: Printouts with text that participants can read.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did the same words come across differently when you read them with a serious face as opposed to smiling?
  • How did smiling affect your confidence while reading?
  • How did the other person come across depending on if they were smiling or not?
  • How can incorporating more smiles into your day affect your self-confidence?

5. Goal Planning

Intention: Setting goals and having clear plans is something that can greatly help you build self-confidence.

So, this is one of the best confidence building activities to help your participants set goals and develop a positive vision and sense of purpose for the future.

Instructions: Give each participant a goal-setting template and ask them to work on their own to fill it in.

Explain that they will need to think of one goal they would like to achieve, either at work or in other areas of their life.

Explain that the goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). Then, ask them to outline specific steps needed to achieve these goals.

Encourage them to not be afraid of being too ambitious and that even the biggest goal can be achieved if you break it down into smaller goals and try to achieve each goal through small steps.

After each participant has filled their goal-setting template, ask the participants to pair up to share ideas and impressions.

At the end of the activity, talk it through with the whole group.

What You Will Need:

  • Goal-setting templates (either printed or shared electronically)
  • Pens if you use (printed templates)

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did setting a goal and plan for it make you feel?
  • How does having a clear plan affect your confidence in achieving your goals?

6. Changing Negative Talk into Positive Talk

Intention: This activity focuses on building positive affirmations by changing negative talk into positive talk.

This is a very relevant activity to self-confidence building because having a positive attitude is essential in boosting your confidence and the words you use have a huge impact.

This is one of those confidence building activities and exercises that work on building self-confidence by changing the language that participants use from negative to positive.

Instructions: Invite participants to work in pairs or groups of 3 or 4 people.

Give each group a list of negative affirmations and ask the group to change these affirmations into a positive talk equivalent, i.e. a positive affirmation.

Alternatively, you can ask participants to come up with their own negative self-talk phrases that they would like to change.

For example, some negative to positive affirmations changes can be the following:

  • From “I can’t do anything right” to “I am capable and learn from my experiences”
  • From “I’m not smart enough to succeed” to “I have the expertise and abilities to reach my goals”
  • From “I always make mistakes” to “I learn and grow from my mistakes, becoming better each day”

Encourage the participants to do the same exercise in the future for any negative self-talk they have, i.e., change the negative affirmations into positive ones, write down the positive affirmations and repeat them to themselves every day.

What You Will Need: Pen and paper if you are running this exercise in person, or a virtual whiteboard if you are teaching online.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did you feel when you changed a negative affirmation into a positive one?
  • How can positive affirmations influence your daily life?

7. Visualize a Positive Outcome

Intention: This is one of the confidence building activities that focuses on positivity and purpose.

Visualization of a positive outcome or visualizing positive feelings is a very powerful way to boost confidence, as it affects your mind and your beliefs on a subconscious level.

Instructions: Guide your participants through a visualisation exercise.

Invite them to envision a situation in which they are successful at doing something and feel confident.

Explain that they need to be immersed in this visualization by engaging all their senses and paying attention to details.

For example, if one of your participants is anxious about delivering a presentation, instruct them to close their eyes and visualize a successful outcome as though it is real.

So, they might imagine the:

  • feeling of standing tall and confident and their feet being well grounded
  • sound of the audience clapping
  • images of the smiling audience and the lights and colors in the room
  • scent of their favourite perfume they will be wearing
  • intense feeling of being the expert on the topic they deliver and of the satisfaction of having explained their argument eloquently, and so on.

Of course, in order to deliver a presentation successfully, they will still have to work hard beforehand to make sure they are well prepared and that their presentation skills are very good.

However, doing the visualization exercise will give them that confidence boost that will enable them to present without fear and deliver the best presentation possible.

Allocate a set time for the visualization and, after that, start a group discussion for participants to share their thoughts.

What You Will Need: All you will need is a quiet space.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did visualizing a positive outcome make you feel?
  • How can you use visualization techniques to help you in real life?

8. Power Pose

Intention: This confidence-building exercise is all about how the right body attitude can help a person build confidence.

Assuming a power pose, e.g. with a straight posture and hands on hips, can greatly affect how we feel in terms of confidence, at least for many of us.

This exercise helps participants assess what effect this pose can have on their confidence levels, so they can use it in their daily lives as and when needed.

Instructions: Show your participants some power poses. Some examples are:

  • The so-called “Wonder Woman” pose, standing tall with hands on the hips, a wide stance with the legs (with feet about shoulder-width apart), chest open and chin ever so slightly lifted. Alternatively, you can let your arms just hang by your sides, as long as you stand tall and with feet apart. The balance needs to be centred in the middle, to give a sense of stability and strength.
  • The so-called “Victory pose” is one that we naturally often adopt when we are very happy and celebrating. You do this by standing tall with feet hip-width apart and arms up in a V shape, with palms facing forward.
  • A dominant and relaxed pose, with hands clasped behind your head and chest open. You can do this either by standing, with feet apart, or sitting down, with legs uncrossed and leaning back slightly against the back of the chair.

Ask your participants to hold a power pose for 1 or 2 minutes and then ask them how they felt and how the pose affected their mood and confidence.

What You Will Need: An area in which to move around. If you are teaching online, your participants can hold the pose in their own space.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • Which power pose did you choose and why?
  • How did holding the pose affect your feelings of confidence?
  • How can you use power poses to increase confidence in your daily life?

>> See the Confidence Building Training Course Materials you can download

9. Compliment Circle

Intention: This is one of my favourite confidence building activities to create an atmosphere of reciprocal appreciation and positivity in a team.

The compliment circle is a useful activity to help people build their self-confidence and trust in each other by giving and receiving compliments.

Instructions: Ask participants to sit in a circle.

Each person gives a genuine compliment to the person on their right.

Continue until all have had the opportunity to give and receive compliments.

What You Will Need: No equipment, except for a circle of chairs.

You can use this confidence-building activity for teaching online by having your participants on screen and establishing an order for them to intervene one at a time.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did you feel when receiving a compliment?
  • How did you feel when giving a compliment?
  • How can regular compliments improve team dynamics and individual confidence?

10. Appreciations Exercise

Intention: This confidence building exercise is also good as a team-building activity to increase trust and collaboration between team members.

This is one of those confidence building activities and exercises that focus on the positivity and the social support aspects of confidence-building.

This activity also encourages listening to others, using positive words, and helping others.

This confidence-building activity works best with teams that have already been working together for a certain amount of time.

Instructions: Randomly assign the name of a person from the group to another person in the group.

Instruct each participant to write a short note of appreciation to the person whose name has been assigned to them. It could be about something specific that person did or a general quality they admire.

Once they have written the notes, participants can either read their notes aloud to the group or hand them directly to the person they wrote about.

Allow time for discussion and for recipients to respond and share their feelings about receiving the note, and also for people who wrote the notes to say how it made them feel to show appreciation to someone.

What You Will Need: Pens and paper.

If you are teaching online, you can use the messaging system within the videoconferencing software or a virtual whiteboard.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did it feel to write a note of appreciation?
  • How did you feel receiving a note of appreciation?
  • What impact does expressing and receiving appreciation have on your confidence and relationships?
  • What can you do to incorporate appreciation into your everyday interactions?

11. Create a Blueprint

Intention: One of the components of self-confidence is feeling empowered. Planning and setting a path towards achieving goals is empowering and can greatly help boost confidence.

This confidence-building activity fosters the ability to accept responsibility for actions, and it is also good for helping to create an “I think I can” attitude, and focusing on future achievements.

Instructions: Give each of your participants large sheets of paper along with pens and markers.

Instruct them to choose a personal or professional goal they want to achieve and write it in such a way as to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound).

Then, ask your participants to draw a blueprint that outlines the steps needed to reach their goal, including milestones, resources needed, potential obstacles, and strategies to overcome them.

To make the goal feel more vivid and foster creativity, you can encourage participants to decorate their blueprints with images or symbols that represent their goals and motivations.

Allocate a set time for participants to work on their blueprint.

At the end of the set time, invite participants to work together (in pairs or small groups) to share their ideas with each other and give feedback.

What You Will Need:

  • Pens and markers
  • Stickers and other decorative materials (optional)
  • Large sheets of paper
  • If you are teaching online, participants can use software such as MS Office to design their blueprint. They can then share their screen with others using an online conferencing tool to show them their blueprint.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How does having a clear plan affect your confidence in achieving your goal?
  • What potential obstacles do you anticipate, and how will you address them?
  • How can regularly updating your blueprint help you stay motivated and focused?

12. Fake It Till You Make It

Intention: Sometimes, even when we don’t feel confident it helps to just pretend to be confident.

This is the “fake it till you make it” concept, according to which adopting confident behaviors, even if you don’t initially feel confident, can lead to genuine confidence over time.

This activity also involves the idea that assertive body language is instrumental in building confidence and that part of being confident is not being afraid of challenges.

Instructions: Ask participants to think of a situation where they often feel insecure or lack confidence.

Have them role-play this situation with a partner, acting as if they are completely confident. They should use assertive body language, positive words, and a strong voice.

After the role-play, switch roles so each partner gets an opportunity to practice.

Aid a group discussion about what you experienced during the activity experience and its effects.

What You Will Need: No equipment in particular.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did you portray confidence during the role-play?
  • How did adopting confident behaviors affect your feelings?
  • Can you think of a situation when you might apply this technique in your daily life?
  • How can practising “fake it till you make it” help build genuine confidence over time?

13. Mirror Exercise

Intention: This is one of the most interesting confidence building activities that address challenging the inner critic by using positive self-talk and asserting body language.

This exercise involves the participants using a mirror to exercise positive self-talk and confident body language.

Instructions: Hand a mirror to each participant and make sure each of them has a corner in the room where they can practise undisturbed.

Ask them to start by saying their name in front of the mirror and look at themselves, into their own eyes, with self-compassion.

Then, they should speak positively and kindly to themselves, using positive affirmations, such as “I can” or “I am capable”. Also, they can think of some of their most recent accomplishments and say those to the mirror, such as “I learned how to use a new piece of equipment at work”, “I helped a colleague who was struggling” or “I prepared a delicious and healthy meal for my family”.

Encourage participants to pay attention to their body language, ensuring it is open and assertive.

Set a time for them to do this activity and then bring the participants back together for a full class discussion.

What You Will Need: Mirrors and a room big enough for each participant to have a bit of space for themselves.

If you are teaching online, everybody can do this exercise in their own space but they will need a mirror. So, make sure to let them know before the session so they have a mirror at hand.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did speaking to yourself in the mirror make you feel?
  • What positive statements did you use, and why?
  • How did this exercise affect your body language and self-perception?
  • How can practising this exercise regularly help improve your self-confidence?
  • Did you encounter any difficulties during the exercise, and how did you address them?

14. Personal Strengths List

Intention: One of the pillars of building self-confidence is recognizing your own strengths so you can build on them.

Also, recognizing your own strengths is likely to boost confidence by making you realise that you do have strengths, as we sometimes easily forget them and we focus more on our weaknesses.

This exercise confidence building exercise helps participants build self-awareness and confidence by identifying and acknowledging their personal strengths.

Instructions: Hand your participant pens and paper and ask each of them to write a list of 5 strengths they possess (for example, being good at building objects from scratch, being empathetic, being a good communicator, etc.).

Encourage them to provide examples of when they demonstrated each strength.

Continue the activity by asking participants to work in pairs or groups of 3 to share the list with each other and discuss how these strengths helped them in life.

End by facilitating a group discussion on how important it can be to identify and use personal strengths.

What You Will Need: Pens and paper.

Possible Follow-Up Questions for Discussion:

  • How did reflecting on your strengths make you feel?
  • How can you leverage your strengths in your personal and professional life?
  • What did you find out about yourself as part of this activity?
Teaching confidence building at work for employees
>> Teaching Self-Confidence for Adults

Benefits of Using Confidence Building Activities and Exercises in the Workplace

Self confidence building activities and exercises can be very beneficial for employees and for adults in general, in any area of life.

Fun confidence building activities can be useful not only as part of a training session on building confidence, but many of them can also be used by people daily to give them a confidence boost (such as the “mirror exercise” or the “power pose”, just to mention two of the quickest and easiest confidence boosting exercises to do).

When used at work, these activities can include benefits for employees at any level (and for people in general in any area of life) such as:

  • Improving performance and career prospects as confidence can improve your ability to take initiative, solve problems, and make decisions.
  • Collaborate better with other people as you can feel more certain of your skills and at ease sharing ideas.
  • Experience less stress and anxiety as confident people are more likely to be good at handling pressure and uncertainty.
  • Have better resilience as being confident makes you more likely to know how to navigate failures and setbacks constructively.
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Dr Valeria Lo Iacono
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