8 guaranteed steps to speaking with confidence and clarity
An observational study suggests that most people, over 70%, have some challenges with speaking confidently. This ordinarily may not seem like a problem. Still, various pieces of research on effective communication have shown that speaking confidently is not just a skill to be admired but a skill to be acquired. Some researchers even argue that effective communication is more about the speaker’s poise than the content of the message. In other words, a poorly crafted message can elicit the right response if the presenter speaks confidently, while a very good message can become boring and tardy in the mouth of a timid speaker.
Everybody needs to learn how to be confident when speaking, regardless of the industry you operate in. As long as you speak to people, whether for official or unofficial purposes, you must learn to speak confidently to leave an impression on others.
Workee experts will share tips on confident speaking and leaving the right impression every time you speak in this guide.
First, what are communication skills?
Of course, everybody can talk, as long as you don’t have a natural speech impediment, but not everybody can communicate effectively. This is why some people are regarded as great orators or “good at speaking.”
So the mere fact that you can talk doesn’t mean you have great communication skills.
Communication skills refer to the ability to effectively convey messages and ideas to others through various forms of communication. It involves speaking and writing clearly and listening actively, understanding different perspectives, and adapting to different communication styles.
Effective communication requires both words and nonverbal cues such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. It is important to be aware of these cues when communicating with others, as they can convey emotions and intentions that may not be explicitly stated.
Good communication skills involve asking questions, clarifying information, and constructively providing feedback. This helps to ensure that the message is received and understood correctly.
Strong communication skills are essential for building relationships, achieving goals, and navigating the complexities of social and business interactions. They require practice and intentionality, but with effort and dedication, anyone can improve their communication skills and become a more effective communicator.
But the first step is learning to exude confidence when speaking.
Importance of speaking confidently
Speaking confidently has numerous benefits in both personal and professional contexts. Here are a few reasons why:
Confidence in Speaking Boosts Credibility
When you speak confidently, you project an aura of authority and competence. A study by the University of Wolverhampton suggests that people trust those who speak confidently and take them more seriously. Whether you're presenting a proposal to your boss, leading a team meeting, or trying to sell a product, speaking confidently will help you gain respect and influence your audience.
Confident Speaking Enhances Communication
Clear communication is essential for building strong relationships and avoiding misunderstandings. When you speak confidently, you articulate your thoughts and ideas more clearly and concisely, making it easier for others to understand you. Moreover, confident speaking encourages active listening, which leads to better dialogue and problem-solving.
Reduces anxiety and stress
Communication, especially public speaking, comes with uneasiness and anxiety; it’s natural. But how you handle the situation early on determines the outcome of your speech. Speaking confidently makes you less likely to feel anxious or stressed about a conversation or presentation. Confidence can help you feel more in control of a situation, which can reduce feelings of anxiety or nervousness. Additionally, when you speak confidently, you are more likely to receive positive feedback from others, which can help reinforce your self-confidence and reduce stress.
Confident Speaking Boosts Your Self-Esteem
Speaking confidently can also have a positive impact on your self-esteem and self-image. When you can express yourself effectively, you feel more confident in your abilities and more comfortable in social situations. This can help you overcome shyness or social anxiety and feel more comfortable in your skin.
Enhances Leadership Skills
Confident speakers are often seen as natural leaders who can inspire and motivate others. When you speak confidently, you are more likely to be taken seriously and to influence the opinions and actions of others. This can be particularly valuable in leadership positions, where you must inspire and guide a team toward a common goal.
How to speak more confidently and enhance your communication skills
Confidence in speaking is a skill that can be developed and improved over time with practice and effort. Here are a few steps to help put you on the right track:
Preparedness and practice make perfect
One of the best ways to build confidence in speaking is to prepare and practice. This could mean rehearsing your speech or presentation multiple times before the event, practicing speaking with a friend or family member, or even recording yourself speaking and listening to the playback to identify areas for improvement. The more you prepare and practice, the more comfortable and confident you'll be when it's time to speak.
Create an impression from the start
Do you know you have less than 20 seconds to win your audience when giving a speech? Well, now you know. The first 10-20 seconds of your speech are critical to your overall presentation, and you must use them well. You should be able to engage your audience and draw their attention with your first few words. When you make a good impression from the get-go, you can feel more at ease and confident in your subsequent interactions.
Here are some tips and recommendations that can help you start strongly;
Introduce yourself confidently, making eye contact and smiling.
Start with a question that borders on the subject
Start with a fact or statistic that can pique your audience's interest
Be bold, friendly, and approachable.
Body language and gestures matter
Effective communication and speaking generally extend beyond just talking; it includes body language and gestures. Research shows that our body language can significantly impact how others perceive us and our level of confidence when speaking. Some experts argue that our body language is more important than spoken words in pursuing impactful presentations. While contentious, this stance emphasizes the importance of gestures and body language while speaking.
Another study published in the Journal of Research in Education posits that people who use more expansive body language (e.g., taking up more space, making more gestures) feel more powerful and confident than those who use more constricted body language. In other words, employ bodily expressiveness while speaking.
Here are some tips on how to use body language to speak more confidently:
Stand up straight: Good posture is key to appearing confident. Stand up straight, with your shoulders back and your head held high. This can help you feel more confident and in control.
Use hand gestures: Gesturing with your hands can help emphasize your points and make your speech more engaging. Be careful not to overdo it, as too many gestures can be distracting.
Maintain eye contact: Eye contact with your audience can help you appear more confident and trustworthy. It also shows that you're engaged and interested in what you're talking about.
Smile: A genuine smile can help put your audience at ease and make you appear more approachable. It also releases endorphins, which can help you feel more relaxed and confident.
Small beginnings are valid
If you're nervous about speaking, starting small and gradually working up to bigger speaking engagements can be helpful. This could mean volunteering to speak at a small event or meeting or practicing speaking up in everyday conversations. By starting small and gradually increasing your exposure to speaking, you'll build confidence and feel more comfortable with the process.
Mistakes happen to everyone; they're a natural part of the learning process. Instead of getting down on yourself for making a mistake or stumbling over your words, try to embrace it and learn from it. Recognize that mistakes are opportunities for growth and improvement, and don't let them hold you back from speaking in the future.
Focus on your audience
When you're giving a speech or presentation, it's normal to feel nervous or anxious about how you'll come across to your listeners. However, shifting your focus away from yourself and toward your audience can help you feel more confident and in control. You should aim to engage them and make your message relevant to their interests and concerns.
Learn to speak slowly and clearly
Speaking slowly and clearly can greatly impact how confidently you come across to others. When you speak quickly or mumble, it can be difficult for others to understand you, making you appear unsure or lacking in confidence.
On the other hand, when you speak slowly and clearly, it gives you time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. This helps you organize your thoughts and communicate more effectively.
Speaking slowly also allows you to project more authority and confidence in your words. By taking your time and enunciating each word, you come across as thoughtful and deliberate in your speech.
Be open to feedback and criticism
Finally, don't be afraid to seek feedback from others. Whether it's a friend, family member, or colleague, asking for constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and build your confidence over time. Just remember to take feedback in stride and use it as a growth tool rather than a personal attack.
Tips for speaking more confidently
The good news is that confidence in speaking can be learned and developed over time. Here are some tips on how to speak more confidently:
Prepare: One of the best ways to boost your confidence when speaking is to prepare beforehand. Take time to research your topic and practice your delivery.
Practice: Speaking in front of a mirror, recording yourself, or practicing with a friend can help you get comfortable with your delivery and fine-tune your message.
Know your audience: Understanding your audience can help you tailor your message and connect with them on a deeper level.
Focus on your breathing: Deep breathing can help calm your nerves and center your thoughts before speaking.
Use positive self-talk: Repeating affirmations or positive statements to yourself can help build your confidence and reduce negative self-talk.
Communication is a vital part of our lives, and how we speak is critical to our social and business relationships and outcomes. If we must create positive impressions and achieve positive outcomes, we must learn to speak confidently.
Remember, confidence when speaking takes practice, so keep working on your body language and practicing other tips outlined above, and you'll speak confidently in no time!
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