Confidence: A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one's own abilities or qualities.

-Oxford Dictionary

Where does confidence come from? Are we born with it or is it something we can develop over time with knowledge and experience? Why is it so hard to gain and so easy to lose?

Those who suffer a lack of confidence, usually have ample of another emotion FEAR - fear of judgement, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of failure. If you try and fail, you may be judged as not worthy.

The irony is confidence does not necessarily relate to intelligence or ability. There are plenty of people who have ample confidence and not so much ability to back it up. So why is confidence so important and why write a blog about a topic that arguably belongs in a psychology journal or self-help book.

There is a good reason - Confidence is one of the most important ingredients for success.

From a business perspective, a confident employee is more likely to be happy, and a happy employee is more likely to be productive. While research says confidence and happiness don’t always go hand in hand, there is certainly a strong correlation.

People who are confident are more inclined to embrace new challenges, seek out relationships, share their ideas and opinions and take personal responsibility for their actions. Doing this reinforces their positive self-image and sense of wellbeing.

Conversely, those who lack confidence tend to avoid social situations, have low self -efficacy and lack initiative. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.

To combat this, good managers will strive to create workplace culture that encourages the sharing of ideas, allows for autonomy, is accepting of mistakes and rewards accomplishments and effort.

The same applies to education and training – a confident student is more likely to be a motivated learner, which ultimately leads to better educational outcomes. Learners need to feel safe, encouraged and supported. Above all, they need to feel good about their achievements, and not see failure as all encompassing.

Ways to Enhance Confidence Through Courseware Design

While your efforts may not change a person’s general wellbeing or outlook on life, there are a few ways to enhance confidence in the context of a single training package. Below are some examples:

Get to know your students

At a minimum, be aware of general demographics such as age, culture, language, experience, education, and aptitude. This knowledge will help guide everything from language, technology, level of difficulty, and course structure. For smaller classes where there is face to face contact, you could go one step further and create a pre-course questionnaire. The answers can reveal a lot about a student’s state of mind and attitude to learning. It can also help tailor activities and teaching methods to suit the audience.

Make the content achievable

Increasing the level of difficulty is an age-old teaching method which is every effective. Be mindful to keep the progression consistent. Any sudden jumps can leave the learner feeling bewildered and confused. Break difficult problems into smaller steps. Introduce one step at a time and make good use of repetition.

Keep it simple

If it’s not an English course, keep sentences short and easy to read. Avoid trick questions, (often an issue with multiple choice) and avoid changing the layout. Consistency and repetition are reassuring, particularly when the subject matter is unfamiliar.

Avoid a focus on assessment and grading

A lot of people are apprehensive when the word ‘test’ or ‘assessment’ is used. If grading is required, practice tests are a great way to build confidence. Break larger assessment into smaller chunks or sections and provide a score for each one. This allows students to take a break and recalibrate in preparation for the next round. It also means they do not have to wait until the end to find out where they are going wrong.


If an answer is incorrect, the initial feeling will be disappointment. Feedback is essential to let students know where they have made an error, however, a second or third try should be accompanied by some form of support, such as a page reference, demonstration, or hint. Without this, the learner is likely to repeat the same mistake.

Reward initiative

This may take on many different forms. From a simple well done, a certificate of completion, an employee of the month lunch voucher or a name on a board. Be careful not to make it a participation award as they can undermine the reward itself and will don little to boost morale.

Think of what makes you feel confident as a learner and have this at the front of your mind when designing or delivering training. If you are a manager, set the conditions to help your team feel valued and included. It’s nothing new, but sometimes this most important consideration is sometimes overlooked.

How can we help you?

Innovation is crucial to achieving a competitive advantage. Interserv believes in fostering innovation by working with our clients to develop new products, revitalise existing products, and looking for new ways to solve problems.

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