How to Become Confident in Speaking (Plus Importance)
Updated 6 March 2023
Speaking skills are essential in many jobs as they help your superiors, colleagues and clients understand you better. Your ability to be confident when speaking can help you excel in your job and may lead to career advancement opportunities. Learning about how to gain confidence in speaking can help you communicate more effectively during interviews and meetings at the workplace. In this article, we define speaking skills, provide steps to improve your confidence in speaking and discuss the importance of speaking skills.
What are speaking skills?
Speaking skills are abilities that enable people to successfully interact with others and convey messages. In a professional setting, you may use speaking skills when giving presentations, meeting with clients, working with your colleagues on a project or asking questions to your superiors. Here's a list of speaking skills you can consider cultivating:
Interpersonal communication: Interpersonal communication refers to the ability someone has to adjust the language, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language they use depending on who they're speaking with. For example, you may speak in a more formal tone and conduct yourself in a more controlled manner when speaking to your superior as compared to speaking to your colleague.
Active listening: Active listening is about using small verbal gestures and non-verbal signs like eye contact, head nodding and smiling to demonstrate that you're interested in what the speaker is saying. This is essential as it may be necessary to listen to and answer questions from the audience after giving your presentation.
Persuasion: Persuasion is the ability to influence others to take the desired course of action through the use of language, such as to make an investment or adopt a new operational procedure. This is highly useful when presenting ideas to clients, team members or upper management.
Vocabulary proficiency: This is an important speaking skill as the type of words you use can improve the audience's understanding of your message and your professional credibility.
How to become confident in speaking
Follow these steps to learn how to become confident in speaking:
1. Prepare in advance
If you're giving a presentation at work or suggesting an idea to your superior, make sure you spend some thinking about what you want to say and how to go about it. For example, you may want to use anecdotes or quote research findings to substantiate your points. You can write down your ideas, prepare an outline and practise your presentation a couple of times. This also shows the matter you're speaking about is important to you and that you've put a considerable amount of thought into it.
2. Maintain eye contact
Making eye contact is essential to building trust with your listeners. It can also show them that you're confident even though you may be nervous. If you're speaking at an event or meeting where there are many people, establish eye contact with a few people to show that you're focused. Another tip is to focus on the wall right behind your audience to help you concentrate.
To improve in this area, you can record yourself practising your presentation in front of a small group of people. Watch the recording and observe if you're looking at your slides too often instead of the audience. Make an intentional effort to make eye contact with the audience and practise until you've mastered this.
3. Take slow, steady breaths
Breathing slowly and deeply helps you calm down and ensure that you have a steady voice. Remember to breathe deep into your belly, such that it rises and falls as you breathe in and out. It also gives you time to think before you speak and helps you feel more confident.
4. Use pauses
Strategic pauses are necessary for the audience to remember and understand important points. It gives them time to process what you said before you move on to your next point. Silent pauses also build tension and draw the members of the audience to listen more closely to your presentation. Pausing and showing that you're comfortable with the silences can demonstrate confidence as well. It can also give you a bit of time to think about what to say next. In your next presentation, try pausing for two beats right before you share important points or key messages.
5. Lower your pitch
When individuals are not sure of what they're speaking about, the pitch of their voice usually increases at the end of a sentence. To sound more authoritative and confident in your speech, lower your pitch at the end of your sentences. You can do this when asking questions as well.
6. Vary your pace
It's common for confident speakers to vary the pace of their speech. You can slow down and speed up to emphasise your most important points. Make sure that your pace is slow enough to be understood, yet not too fast that listeners find it difficult to keep up. Look through your speech and identify parts where you can speed up, such as where there are many details. Then, slow down as you get to your important points.
7. Remember to smile
Smiling makes your voice more pleasant to listen to and portrays confidence. It also makes you appear friendly and composed. You can include written reminders in your speech to smile.
8. Be yourself
Allowing your personality to show is an essential part of being confident when you speak. When you demonstrate that you're comfortable with who you are, it may be easier to build trust with the audience. It also improves the flow of conversations and can help your audience connect with you as you give presentations.
Importance of speaking skills
Here are some reasons detailing the benefits of being able to speak effectively in a professional environment:
Improves employability during job interviews
Having strong speaking skills can help you demonstrate that you're a confident, qualified and eloquent candidate. It helps you to articulate your ideas and establish a connection with the interviewer. The employer may seek candidates with excellent speaking skills, especially if the role requires working on team projects, meeting customers or clients regularly and leading presentations.
Increases your chances of getting promoted
With good speaking skills, you can communicate your ideas better, lead presentations and meetings more effectively and assert a greater level of influence at work. The employer may perceive you as a strong leader and consider promoting you to more senior positions. You may also get more opportunities to work closely with key stakeholders.
Influences business decisions
Your persuasion skills and ability to speak clearly can inspire change in the workplace. You can use your speech to communicate your ideas effectively and help them to visualise the benefits of your ideas. This can influence the business decisions the company makes, such as making their products more eco-friendly or introducing software to increase productivity. This can lead to positive change in the company and community.
Strengthens workplace relationships
You can build stronger relationships with your colleagues with this skill set. By establishing meaningful connections with them, you can enjoy better teamwork when collaborating on projects and benefit from a positive workplace culture. This can increase your job satisfaction and motivation to come to work.
Part of speaking well is knowing how to phrase questions and answers in a way that others can understand easily. This can help you give instructions and communicate your ideas to your colleagues more effectively. As a result, there may be increased productivity in your team or department.
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