Lifestyle

5 Steps to Becoming a More Confident Speaker

I’d like to think that I’m a fairly confident person. I know when I should give my opinion (food, saving money), and when not to (politics). The problem is, that even when I’m fully confident on the subject that I’m speaking on, often times I have a difficult time projecting it in a confident manner. You can watch a few of my YouTube videos and I think that what I’m talking about becomes pretty clear. I still overuse “um”, “like” and speak far too quickly. I did some digging into tricks to make yourself sound more authoritative – helping you for that next interview, sales pitch or YouTube video.

1. Slow the heck down

I’m one of those public speakers who not only turns bright red when I speak in front of a large number of people, but I also speak faster when I’m nervous. I’m a naturally fast talker, but unfortunately this can signal a lack of confidence and also increase the likelihood of me making mistakes in enunciation. Becoming more conscious of speaking slowly in conversation will train you to take the time to ensure your message is heard and also to make less errors. Just be cautious of slowing down too much and putting your audience to sleep and/or making yourself look incredibly socially awkward.

2. Learn how to… pause.

Learning how to effectively use pauses can assist in you speaking slower and also give more impact to what you’re saying. Improper use of pauses can … just seem…. creepy, but if you are going to be making a significant point, a pause before delivering the information can add a surprising amount of impact. Pauses are also a fantastic replacement for those “um’s” and “like’s” that can discredit what you’re saying. Trust me, the silences feel much more awkward to you than to others, so give it a try.

3. Watch your pitch

I myself have a very deep voice, and apparently this could help offset my incredibly fast talking since studies show that people tend to view speakers with lower voices as having more authority and confidence. If you have a meeting with someone important or a job interview, practice speaking in a lower tone of voice. Don’t go in sounding like you’re doing a bad Obama impersonation, but even if you can lower your voice a tone or two, it could make a difference.

4. Posture matters

Body language can often speak more loudly than even the words you use. Standing or sitting up straight with shoulders back will make you appear larger and more confident – and it will signal to your brain to feel more confident as well. There are actually “power poses” that you can do before an important meeting or speech to help you to feel and act more confident. You can check them all out in my post on The Power of Body Language at Work.

5. Gesticulate

Get your head out of the gutter. Gesticulation is when you gesture with your hands to enhance your communication. Speakers who effectively gesture during conversation are viewed as more confident and authoritative than those who don not. Avoid flailing your hands around like a crazy person to get your point across and instead reserve hand gestures for your most impactful words. As a woman, I also find that a light touch on the arm when you’re sharing something lighthearted can also be effective during conversation in having people warm up to you and view you in a more favorable light. Guys, maybe don’t touch people too much.

 

Many of these tips may seem like common sense, but they are things that we must constantly keep in mind in our day to day conversations. With practice, over time these tricks will become second nature and your natural speaking voice will convey the confidence that will help you to be more persuasive and successful (or at least just sound that way).

 

 

4 Comments

  1. I find that learning to pause is really helpful. I used to speak really fast, sometimes so fast that listeners would get lost. Nowadays I tend to put a pause after every sentence to give the other person some time to react.

    • Yes this was advice I really took to heart as well – I think it’s made a big difference it my overall communication with people.

  2. I’m working on becoming a better speaker and at some point want to take Toastmaster classes. It’s my dream to speak at a TED conference someday. Speaking too quickly and turning bright red are two of my problems as well. I’m slowly trying to build up some confidence with speaking though by not saying no to any kind of opportunity. I’m coaching beach volleyball and saying yes to every podcast interview opportunity, even though they sometimes feel outside of my comfort zone!

    • I love this! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m going to have to look into these toastmaster classes… and I’ll look out for your TED talk :)

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