How to Speak with Confidence: 20 Quick Tricks

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Here’s how to speak with confidence in day to day life and on stage.

First, we’ll talk about how to sound more confident, and then, we’ll talk about how to feel more confident when speaking.

Chapter 1: Sounding more confident when speaking

1. Avoid filler words

Practice avoiding words like “ehh”, “like” etc. Rather be completely silent while you think of what to say next.

I also recommend our guide on how to be more articulate here.

2. Don’t speak louder than necessary

Use a voice that’s loud enough to be heard, but not louder than that. An overly loud voice can come off as insecure and neurotic.

Pitch down your voice slightly when you do speak louder. Avoid pitching down your voice so much that you lose your tonal variation.:

3. Use good posture

Rotate your chest out and upward by tensing your upper back. This helps get more air into your lungs, and your voice becomes more powerful. A good posture also helps us feel more confident.[1]

I’d recommend this video. It’s helped me get a permanently better posture.

4. Use tonal variation

Vary the tone and speed of your voice. Tonal variation makes you more interesting to listen to. It also helps signal that you are at ease.

Here’s an example of my voice with and without tonal variation.

5. Use silences

Be comfortable with silences. They build up anticipation. Daring to be quiet for a while signals confidence. [2]

6. End your sentences on a low pitch

Avoid going up in pitch by the end of your sentences. That can make you sound insecure. Do the opposite and end on a slightly darker tone.

Practice saying a few sentences going up and going down in pitch by the end.

7. Record your voice

Use the recording function on your phone when you talk to a friend. Listen to your voice and analyze what you want to change.

I was surprised when I did this. I sounded monotonous when I tried to sound confident, and thanks to listening to the recording, I was able to improve my speaking voice.

8. Use your hands and take up space

Be comfortable with taking up space. You can do this by using an open body language and gesticulate while you talk.

When you gesticulate, make smooth movements:

9. Use smooth, relaxed movements

Move your hands, head, and body smoothly rather than jerkingly.

It’s common to make jerking movements when we feel nervous. A rule of thumb is to move more like a lion than a squirrel.

10. Use a relaxed face with authentic expressions

Make sure that your face is relaxed and that your facial expressions are authentic.

It’s common to get a stiff face when we feel nervous, or that we use insincere facial expressions like we play a character rather than being us.

Relax your face. Allow for sincere reactions to show.

11. Use a simple language rather than trying to sound fancy

Use simple words and short sentences. Complicated language both makes it harder to talk and harder for people to understand.

Using a complicated language has even shown to make people sound less intelligent.[3]

12. Maintain eye contact

Keep eye contact except for short breaks when you talk. It can help to look down while you formulate your thoughts, but go back to eye contact as soon as you start talking again.[4]

Chapter 2: Feeling more confident when speaking

1. See nervousness as a sign that something good is about to happen

Doing new things is how we grow as a person. Nervousness is a normal response when we do something new.

This means that nervousness is a sign that something good is about to happen. Rather than seeing it as a sign to go back to safety, see it as a sign that you’re about to do something good.

2. Accept nervousness rather than trying to avoid it

Accept that you are nervous or shaky and know that it’s completely normal. All humans feel nervous at times. Are you human? Ok, good, then you experience nervousness, too.

Feeling nervous at times is as normal as it is for a human to feel tired at times. Remind yourself that nervousness is okay and that you can act despite it.

3. See yourself as excited rather than nervous

Nervousness and excitement are the same feeling in the body.[5] It’s just that we associate that feeling with something good or bad depending on the situation.

Think “I’m excited” rather than “I’m nervous”. It helps you think of it as something good about to happen.

4. Take deep breaths and breathe out slower than you breathe in

Breathing in the right way can make us significantly calmer.[6]

Try this: Take a deep breath all the way down into your belly. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then breathe out at least twice as long as it took you to breathe in. Wait for a few seconds until you repeat.

Dry to keep this breathing going by itself. After around 15 minutes, you start feeling more relaxed.

5. Visualize that people give you a great response

If you are giving a speech or need to socialize, see in front of you how people are having a great reaction. They look interested, cheer, want to hear more, like you, etc.

It’s common that our brain paints worst-case scenarios. Visualizing the opposite works as a counter-balance for this.

6. Know that your nervousness isn’t obvious to people

One study showed that nervousness is more obvious to the one giving the speech than it is to the audience.[7]

Just because you feel nervous doesn’t mean that anyone else sees it that way.

7. Fake confidence

Ask yourself how a confident person would have acted and go into the role of that person.

Faking confidence like this can help to intuitively know how to act. This safety can make you feel more confident.

8. Know that the audience is on your side

Those who listen to you want you to do great and succeed. They are on your side.

Realizing this can help us speak with more confidence.

References

  1. Briñol, P. , Petty, R. E. and Wagner, B. (2009), Body posture effects on self‐evaluation: A self‐validation approach. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 39: 1053-1064. doi:10.1002/ejsp.607
  2. Scherer, K. R., London, H., & Wolf, J. J. (1973). The voice of confidence: Paralinguistic cues and audience evaluation. Journal of Research in Personality, 7(1), 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/0092-6566(73)90030-5
  3. Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly, Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology 2005, DOI: 10.1002/acp.1178
  4. Kajimura, S., & Nomura, M. (2016). When we cannot speak: Eye contact disrupts resources available to cognitive control processes during verb generation. Cognition, 157, 352-357. 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.10.002
  5. Veny, M. Are Anxiety and Excitement the Same? (2018). https://www.healthcentral.com/article/are-anxiety-and-excitement-the-same
  6. Russo, M. A., Santarelli, D. M., & O’Rourke, D. (2017). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe, 13(4), 298-309. DOI: 10.1183/20734735.009817
  7. Macinnis, Cara & P. Mackinnon, Sean & Macintyre, Peter. (2010). The illusion of transparency and normative beliefs about anxiety during public speaking. Current Research in Social Psychology. 15. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ899041

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