Are you as confident as you’d like to be? No? Would you like to give the impression you’re more confident than you really are? Of course! Who wouldn’t?
Confidence is something that you either have or don’t. But even if it’s something you struggle with, there are a lot of ways to gain some, improve it or even just sound like you’re more confident than you really are. Especially during public speaking.
1. Speak more slowly
Some people are naturally fast talkers who don’t lack confidence, while others talk fast because they are nervous and lack experience in public speaking.
Talking fast can also suggest that you lack confidence, authority in what you are saying and that you want to get your speech or presentation over with quickly. The best way to combat this, is to consciously slow yourself down when you speak so you have time to read what you’re going to say from your cue cards, slides, etc., or collect your thoughts — so your audience can hear what you are saying properly and take it in.
Speaking more slowly can suggest you are confident, that you know what you are saying and that you are comfortable talking in front of people.
2. Lower your vocal range
Lowering your vocal range when you speak doesn’t mean trying to sound like Darth Vader. It just means that, when you speak, you do it in a lower pitch than your normal voice.
People who have a lower vocal range when they speak are seen as having more authority in what they are saying.
Lowering your vocal range can be helped by practice, and by smiling while you are doing it – which adds more depth to your voice and also adds the illusion of confidence.
3. Practice/Rehearse, but don’t sound like it
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Practicing what you’re going to say in a speech, presentation, etc. before you make it can go a long way in making you feel more confident, prepared and relaxed in the moment.
Also, when preparing what you’re going to say in a speech, for example, say it out loud as you’re writing it so that you can hear how it sounds and be able make the right changes as you go along. And while it’s good to be prepared and know what you’re going to say, you don’t want to sound like you’re just reading verbatim from cue cards. You also want to have a certain level of freedom and sense of ‘casual’ while speaking so that your audience thinks that public speaking comes naturally to you, no matter how long you practiced.
4. Use your hands
Talking with your hands does not mean that you use a sock puppet to ‘do the talking for you’. It’s really just a way for you to emphasize what you’re saying to your audience, so that they know what points are most important.
Using your hands can also show that you really believe and feel passionately about what you’re saying because of how you use more than your mouth to convey what you’re saying to your audience, while also displaying your knowledge on the topic and how enthusiastic you are about it.
TV presenter’s tip: use your hands, but keep your elbows at your sides while doing it. You’re talking, not flying – so don’t let your arms flap about.
5. Use silence to your advantage
Nobody likes an awkward silence. At their absolute worst, they can emphasize your lack of knowledge on the topic you’re talking about and especially your lack of confidence. But pauses don’t have to be a bad thing because, even if it is terrifying to lose where you are in a speech, forget your train of thought or to ask a question and have no one answer, you can turn silences around and use them to your advantage.
To do this, you’ll need to think ahead of your speech or presentation and, from time to time, pause in the middle of what you’re saying for …(wait for it) dramatic effect. This way you can make a bigger impact with what you say at the right moment and appear to be more confident and in control of the audience.
6. Remember to breathe
Treat breathing like the verbal form of punctuation. It’s there for a reason and should be used as much as you need or is necessary — aside from it being important for your general life sustaining needs.
No one actually speaks constantly until they are red in the face and about to pass out. That suggests that you did not practice your speech ahead of time and don’t have any experience making a speech or talking in front of people.
So, no matter what kind of speaking engagement you have or how much, or little, you practiced, take a moment from time to time to take in a good breath, even if it’s just to collect your thoughts or find your place in your speech.
7. Stand up straight
Standing up straight not only improves your posture, but can also suggest that you are confident and certain about who you are and what you are doing, especially when it comes to public speaking.
Doing this can help you sound more confident because of the way it makes you look taller and seem more authoritative during speeches or presentations, even if you’re a nervous wreck on the inside and wishing that it would be over already.
Scientific research has shown that standing straight for two minutes with your feet planted slightly apart and your hands on your hips – a very aggressive posture – actually helps raise the testosterone levels in the brain, which gives you a confidence boost.
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