How to start speaking with confidence

Confidence is a crucial trait that can significantly impact your communication skills and how others perceive you. Whether you’re presenting at work or chatting casually, confidence can make everything much easier.

Let’s explore the power of speaking with confidence. We’ll provide practical tips on how to look and sound confident, helping you make a lasting impression.

How to look more confident

Communication involves much more than the words you speak. Your nonverbal communication plays a huge role in conversations, with confident body language giving a strong impression. 

Here are some strategies to look more self-assured when you're communicating:

Practice speaking in front of a mirror

Practicing your speech in front of a mirror can be an effective way to gain confidence. 

Your reflection enables you to observe your facial expressions and body language, which are key components of nonverbal communication. 

Use your hands

Hand gestures can emphasize key points and express your emotions more effectively when you use them correctly. They also give off an air of self-belief and conviction.

Imagine your presentation includes three points. Count them on your fingers for a visual element that engages your audience.

Smile often

A genuine smile, or Duchenne smile, can make you appear more approachable, poised, and at ease. 

Even smiling on the phone sounds more friendly and upbeat. It can also release tension and make you feel more relaxed while speaking.

Stand up straight

Standing tall with your shoulders back expresses confidence and a sense of authority. Slumping your shoulders or looking down are signs of insecurity that can make you appear less confident. A positive posture can also make you feel more confident. 

Maintain eye contact 

Eye contact is a powerful communication tool. Looking into a person's eyes while you speak exhibits confidence and shows that you're engaged in the conversation. 

Try to maintain eye contact for 3-5 seconds. This isn’t too short or too long, so it avoids awkwardness with your conversation partner.

Take care of yourself so you feel good about how you look

When you feel good about how you look, it boosts your confidence. 

Dress appropriately for the situation, ensure you're well groomed, and choose clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

How to sound more confident

After learning how to express confidence through your nonverbal cues, you can also focus on how you sound when you speak. This is paraverbal communication. 

What you say is important, but how you say it can carry much more weight. Your pitch, tone, volume and pacing can project a sense of assertiveness. 

Let's look at some ways to sound more confident when you speak.

Slow down

People tend to speak quickly and rush through sentences when they're nervous or insecure. 

Instead, try speaking slower to express your confidence and exhibit control. This will also give you time to think about what to say next, which can maintain your composure. 

Practice reading a paragraph in a book at a slower pace to develop the habit of speaking at a moderate speed.

Cut filler words

Have you ever noticed speakers using words like "I guess,” "I think" or ‘’you know’’? 

These can weaken your statements and lessen your conviction. The same goes for filler words like "um," "uh," and "like." 

Instead of filling the space with these phrases, try pausing to gather your thoughts before proceeding. This can take a lot of practice. 

Stay hydrated

A dry mouth or throat can make it difficult to speak clearly. Many people also suffer from a dry mouth when they are nervous about speaking in front of people. 

To avoid this, stay hydrated throughout the day, especially if you have an extended talk or presentation. 

Drink water before you speak to calm your nerves, and keep a bottle nearby for a quick sip. Avoid coffee or fizzy drinks.

Express gratitude

A confident person is more likely to express gratitude. It shows that you're sure of yourself and self-aware enough to acknowledge the contribution of others. 

Saying "thank you" is a simple but respectable practice. Giving a compliment is another easy and powerful tool. These make you appear friendly and confident. 

Use silence to your advantage

A well-placed pause can be a very effective tool in speaking. It can give your audience time to absorb what you've just said and offers a moment to anticipate what's coming next.

Many speakers are afraid of silence and tend to fill the gaps with filler words. However, a moment of silence is actually more powerful and a strength. 

So don’t fear a few beats of quiet. Instead, use it to your advantage.

Stop making your statements sound like questions

When you speak, you want everyone to know you are confident in your words. That’s especially true in a professional or formal setting.

One common pitfall many speakers fall into is ending their statements with an upward inflection. This makes the statement sound like a question, making you sound uncertain and less confident. 

To avoid this, practice a downward inflection to ensure your tone reflects each statement's certainty and conviction.

Moderate your volume

Speaking too softly can make you sound uncertain or shy, and your colleagues or clients may not hear what you have to say. 

Shouting may come across as aggressive and abrasive. Aim for a moderate volume that is loud enough to be audible without overpowering the room with your voice.

Speak in a lower tone for serious topics

A lower vocal pitch can add gravity and authority to certain statements, especially when discussing serious topics. 

However, it's best to vary your tone based on the topic and the situation, as a monotone voice can seem boring or unengaging. 

Quiet the inner critic

Nothing ruins your self-confidence like listening to that inner critical voice. These negative thoughts lead to self-doubt that can severely impact your confidence. 

Instead, remind yourself of all your capabilities and achievements to boost your self-worth. Make a list of your accomplishments and keep it handy to awaken your confidence.

If you make a mistake, move on

Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. If you slip or make a mistake while speaking, acknowledge it, apologize if necessary or laugh about it and move on.

Dwelling on errors will make you more nervous and less confident. 

A mistake can make you seem more authentic and relatable. Sharing mistakes is actually a great way to connect with the audience.

Find a role model to emulate

Having a role model who inspires you can be a powerful tool for improving your public speaking skills. 

Pick someone whose confidence and speaking ability are admirable. Listen to their speeches or talks and observe their style. 

Try incorporating their techniques into your speeches and discussions to improve your craft. 

Speak from the heart 

Speaking with sincerity and conviction may be the most important way to sound self-assured. 

When you genuinely believe in what you're saying, your confidence, passion, and authenticity will shine through, and everyone will feel more connected to your words.

What confident people never do

True confidence shows, so it’s important to toe the line carefully between cockiness and confidence. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

Crossing the line between confidence and arrogance

It's possible to exude too much confidence, which can quickly turn into arrogance. Confidence is about being comfortable with yourself and what you can do. 

Arrogance overestimates your abilities and dismisses the credibility of others. 

Remember to always be respectful and considerate of other people's opinions and feelings, and show humility now and then.

Not listening to other people's ideas

Confidence should never hinder your ability to listen to others. Having an open mind and being receptive to other viewpoints is at the heart of being confident. 

Remember, confident people value the opinions of others and don’t feel threatened by differing perspectives.

FAQs

Here are a few common questions that people ask when they're learning to speak with confidence.

Do confident people speak their minds?

Yes, confident people often speak their minds. They feel secure enough to express their ideas and opinions because they don't fear criticism or disagreement. 

However, they also do it in a respectful and considerate manner by acknowledging the possibility of differing viewpoints.

Why is confidence so powerful?

Confidence improves your ability to express yourself clearly and persuasively. Cool-headed people tend to be more assertive, proactive, and resilient, which are valuable traits in many areas of life. Confidence also tells people that you're trustworthy and worth listening to. 

Being self-assured can greatly elevate your personal and professional relationships and improve your impression on others.

Improve your speaking skills by building self-confidence

Speaking with confidence can open doors and create opportunities in your personal and professional life. 

Following these practical tips and understanding the power of confident communication can empower you to have more influence and make stronger connections. 

Luckily, confidence is a skill that you can nurture and develop over time. All it takes is practice.

Learn how to craft a memorable story that will influence and inspire. Find the right story at the right time to upgrade your presentations. Confidently tell stories that sell with Pip Decks’ Storyteller Tactics Deck.

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