Communicate with Confidence
“Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of your reality is not their reality.” —Shannon L. Alder, American author
In Lesson 1, you learned about assertive communication, which is a function of feeling and looking confident. The more confident you appear to others, the easier it is to:
• Be influential and persuasive.
• Gain agreement for your recommendations.
• Reinforce your reputation as an expert.
• Feel more comfortable when speaking to groups.
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn tips to help you look and feel more confident when communicating in person. We’ll cover written communication in a later lesson.
Eliminate Speech Fillers
Fillers are sounds like um, uh, uh-huh, and er, and words like, you know, anyway, and whatever. They make you sound like you are unsure of yourself and what you are saying. They also are annoying for listeners and impede their ability to understand your message.
People often use fillers when they are thinking of what to say or don’t know how to respond. It’s important to just be quiet for a moment while you think. That pause may feel like hours to you, but to your listeners, it seems like no time has passed. An added bonus: That pause makes you sound more confident when you do speak!
Eliminating speech fillers will take time, but breaking this habit will improve your image as a professional and your ability to come across more confidently.
If you’re presenting at a meeting, study your topic so thoroughly that you feel confident answering most questions. Generally, you want to know more than you will say in the actual presentation. If you get a question that you can’t answer, say so and then offer to look up the answer and get back to them.
Networking is another situation where preparedness helps. It can be daunting for some people, yet it is necessary for long-term professional success. Before attending a networking meeting, familiarize yourself with everything related to the event or venue. Create a list of comments and questions that you can use to start a conversation. The more options you have, the more confidently you will communicate.
Now, let’s look at four easy ways to feel more confident in any situation. You’ve heard the advice, “Fake it until you make it.” It makes sense when it comes to confidence. No matter how nervous you feel, you can control your mind and body and use them to feel and sound more confident:
1. Visualize success, not failure. Use your imagination to rehearse acting and feeling more confident when speaking. Refuse to dwell on thoughts or images of failure or nervousness.
2. Practice in front of a mirror to improve your body posture and use open, inviting gestures.
3. Stand tall by squaring your shoulders, placing your feet shoulder-width apart, and looking straight ahead.
4. Take deeper breaths. This puts more power behind your voice and helps calm your nerves.
Step 1. Pay more attention to yourself when you are speaking to see if you can hear fillers. Immediately repeat what you were saying without the filler.
Step 2. Find someone you trust and ask them to tell you when they hear you using fillers.
See you tomorrow, when you will discover how you can use body language to communicate like a pro and look confident doing so.
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