Many of us admire people who exude, express and exhale confidence.
Many of us admire people who exude, express and exhale confidence. It's been said that confidence is inbred, however, many educators and coaches will confirm that confidence like many a skill, is a learned process.
In recent times, many of my clients come to me because they want to have this trait. Confidence also comes with practice. The more you practice what you are good at, the more confidence you exhibit. There are many techniques for improving oral communication with attendant confidence, however, for the purpose of this article, I will hone in on only four.
The Power in your voice
Research shows that people decide how trustworthy or dominant you are within seconds of hearing your voice. Whether you're a star public speaker or striving to become a more influential leader at work, the key to making people remember what you just said is mastering your public speaking voice.
Speaking with authority, clarity and conviction starts with how you project your voice in speaking. Your vocal cords open and close generally a hundred times a second when you make a sound. I've also discovered that vocal power is not just about creating the sound but "Exciting the Sound". Visualise a group of teenagers released in an air parachute coming down, the power in their excited voice is greater than their speaking voice because of their excitement.
Our ability to use vocal projection is also shown through breathing. Breathing in and out when speaking allows air through your lungs to deepen your voice for power. If we slow down the pace of speaking we will be able to use our breath for power. The trick is to be hydrated before and during speaking to prevent your voice from drying out.
The Clarity of your voice
We all know many people who swallow the ends of their words when speaking. We've also come across people who mumble at their words making incoherent conversation.
I've always said that the human voice is an instrument we all play. How we play it can determine how powerful or incoherent it becomes. To project a clear and distinct voice unique to you alone, it is always better to practice what I refer to as 'tongue twisters'. Tongue twisters help you manipulate your tongue around your oral cavity to produce the clear and trenchant tones: a practice usually used by actors and professional singers successfully.
Practice recording your voice, then listen to your recorded voice and improve or change the tone, pitch or clarity of your voice. Do this on a regular basis or get a professional to support you get the ideal professional voice you desire.
Don't give a speech, have a Conversation
Many of us shake with trepidation when we have to give a speech or speak in public. This is not surprising as public speaking is ranked ahead of death in most common fears and comes in the top three of all phobias. To enable a seamless speech, it's usually helpful if you envisage yourself having a conversation rather than giving a speech.
Don't talk to your audience, talk with them. Use questions and make your speaking interactive where possible. Many icebreakers include asking your audience questions and adding humour to your speech if you're comfortable with it.
There is a new dawn of communication where our interaction and conversation with an audience is not a monologue: it's a dialogue.
Don't be fooled, non-verbals count
People sum you up in the first twenty to thirty seconds of meeting with you. They sum you up even before you speak. What non-verbals are you communicating? Do you have a confident smile showing you as friendly or a permanent frown? Research shows that in communication, your body language or non-verbal cues (gestures, posture and facial expressions) play a whopping 55% in the way people perceive you while your voice and words only play 38% and 7% respectively.
Further studies also suggest that your body language can even affect your hormones, which affect your decisions and attitudes to risk.
In other words, how we say what we say to people is at least as important as what we say to them.
So the next time you are called to speak in public be aware of and prepare for your non-verbal cues, as well as the actual words you speak and your voice. Work on the tone, pitch, clarity, volume of your voice as much as the time you spend in preparing your presentation slides or your actual speech.
When done right, confident spoken communication increases your visibility with people who count. Since it’s a one-to-many activity, it is unparalleled in its ability to help you stand out and impress the people who really count.
About Em Bartels
Em Bartels is the founder and Executive Director of Excell Consulting GH, Excell Branding GH, a Personal Branding Expert and Executive Coach with a track record of building incredible personal brands that help executives to Stand Out, become visible and attract a passionate tribe.
An ardent public speaker and elocution expert, Ms Bartels supports executives and professionals in the art of oral delivery and diction.
She is the founder of GPA Awards, a Professional Development Organisation that promotes Creativity, Innovation and Excellence.