Posted by Sage, January 8, 2019.
Your ability to speak confidently makes a huge difference in your personal and professional life. Not only will you be more attractive to women, you will also be taken more seriously at work.
When I was young, I had a stuttering problem. It was pretty embarrassing and frustrating whenever I wanted to speak. It didn’t help either that my mom would remind me of it every time, which made me more nervous. Ahh, parents… Luckily though, the stuttering improved over time and it’s basically gone now. So how did this happen?
I think a big reason for this is that I actively worked on my speech when talking to others. I made sure to take my time and think of what I wanted to say. And as my speaking gradually improved, my confidence improved as well. These days, my speaking confidence has soared and I feel totally comfortable expressing myself to others. If you’re looking to speak with more confidence, here are a few tips to follow.
Speak more slowly
One common mistake guys make is speaking too quickly. I still have this problem from time to time. While it’s not always an issue, speaking too quickly may make you look nervous or insecure – two things you don’t want to be associated with. To change this, practice taking your time when speaking. Slow down and don’t rush your words. Think of what you want to say before speaking. It’s really helpful to give yourself an extra second to two to enunciate all your words.
Pausing is very powerful since it gives the other person time to absorb what’s being said. Our brains need time to search our memory bank to see where the information fits in. The pause allows us to reflect on the information, relate to it, and come up with an appropriate response. The pause also creates anticipation since the other person has to wait to see what you’ll say next.
Know when to talk
Another mistake many guys make is speaking too soon. They start talking before the other person is even finished speaking what they have to say. Jumping in not only makes you look overly eager, it also makes the other person feel you weren’t listening. A good way to deal with this is to pause for a second after the person has spoken before you start to speak. This pause allows you to collect your thoughts while making you look relaxed and interested in what the other person is saying.
Even better, is to encourage the person to talk more by asking follow-up questions. Follow-up questions are great because it shows you’ve been listening and are interested in what they’re saying. For example, if the person is talking about traveling, a good follow-up question would be “So what’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to so far?” This allows you to delve deeper into the topic while encouraging the person to talk more about something they’re passionate about. The key is to make the questions broad enough so that they can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. What, why and how type questions are much better since they give the person a variety of ways to answer. Do this the right way, and they will feel like they’ve known you for ages.
Cut out the filler words
Do you ever say “umm” or “uhh” when you speak? If so, eliminate them. They are often used as space fillers when a person isn’t sure what to say next. Filler words don’t add anything to a conversation. If you need a moment to figure out what to say, just pause for a second and hold the silence. That brief silence is extremely powerful since it builds up tension and draws people in.
Record yourself speaking so you can see how often you’re using filling words in your speech. This can easily be done with a digital recorder or on your smartphone. Things to check for include the number of times filler words occur, if they’re distracting, and if they’re undermining what you’re saying. Then work on gradually cutting down the number of filler words in your speech.
Maintain a low, steady tone
Sometimes guys think that speaking loudly means that you’re speaking confidently. While speaking loudly can help in certain situations (such as in front of a large audience), what’s more important is the tone and rhythm of your voice. To project your confidence, speak with a low pitch and maintain a steady rhythm. Don’t have your pitch constantly going from high to low — it makes you sound unstable. You want to keep your tone low and steady to maintain a confident speaking voice.
The easiest way to achieve a low and steady tone is by relaxing the muscles that affect your voice. By releasing the tension in your shoulders, neck, throat and jaw, you’ll be able to start speaking more smoothly and dominantly. One way to relax those muscles is by taking slow deep breaths. As you exhale, slowly feel all the tension in those areas melt away. Doing this will help you be more aware of existing tension in your voice so you can start relaxing it when you speak.
Breathing properly is important if you want to speak with more confidence. Many guys breathe shallowly into their chest instead of deep into their stomach. By taking deep, steady breaths into your stomach, you can create a much deeper and attractive speaking voice. A quick tip to improve your breathing is by imagining the air that you breathe in going straight to your groin area. This will help you to take full, deep breaths so you’re speaking with confidence.
Doing breathing exercise will help to increase your lung capacity. Practice breathing in for 5 seconds and breathing out for 5 seconds and gradually increase the intervals. Do this throughout the day while you’re driving, reading, and sitting at the office. Eventually you will be able to breathe out for 1-2 minutes with enough practice.
Besides this, make sure to get some form of physical exercise into your routine. Whether it’s running, biking, swimming or weightlifting, exercising will challenge your body to supply oxygen into your blood, giving your lungs a great workout.
Speak with authority
Often when guys are nervous or aren’t sure what to say, their pitch goes up at the end of a sentence. While this is common when asking questions, it also happens when making statements too. If you want to appear more authoritative, don’t raise your voice when speaking. In fact, try lowering your pitch when you’re ending your sentences. This downward inflection makes you appear more confident and sure of what you’re saying.
Speaking with authority also includes your body language. Stand up straight, chest out, shoulders back and look the person straight in the eye. Take up plenty of space and remember to smile. Be confident with your posture because it shows that you’re comfortable with yourself. Others can sense this and will take what you have to say more seriously.
Many of the speaking issues that guys have — such as speaking too fast or using too many filler words — happen as a result of overthinking. Overthinking often occurs when we worry about what to say next or what the other person thinks of us. To deal with this, try to stop worrying about how others see you. Once you become more comfortable with your insecurities, you’ll start worrying less about how others see you and start speaking with more confidence.
A great tip is to just “remove your filter”. What I mean is that we often don’t say what’s really on our mind because we think it’s not interesting enough to talk about. Instead, start thinking what you have to say is interesting- even if it seems strange or random. One of the most difficult thing for us is getting in touch with our thoughts and having the courage to state them. Will everything you say be magic? No, of course not. But by speaking your mind, you’re taking the pressure off yourself from being clever or witty, while giving both of you something extra to add to the conversation.
As you can see, speaking with confidence just takes some practice. Realize that no one speaks perfectly and that we all have things that we can improve. Similar to building a jigsaw puzzle, you’re building your conversation skills, one piece at a time. It might take a while, but with each piece, you’re getting closer to achieving your goal. So keep laying down those pieces and you’ll be speaking with confidence in no time.