Self-confidence is an essential quality for success. Whether we like it or not, people tend to judge us based on how confident we are in their eyes. A large body of research suggests those who are perceived as confident are more likely to attract attention, appear trustworthy, and get promotion.
Our confidence is reflected in how we interact with people. The way we talk can make a big difference in people’s perception of our self-confidence. Here are six ways to help us sound more confident.
1. Avoid using higher pitch at the end of sentences
Sometimes people raise their pitch at the end of declarative sentences, making it sound like a question. Those speakers sound unsure about what they are talking about. Such “up-speak” endings will lower the conviction in your voice and reduce your credibility.
2. Avoid asking for approvals at the end
Some people tend to add “OK?” “Right?” “Do you agree?” or “Am I being understandable?” after they finish a statement. Frequently asking questions for confirmation or approval indicates a lack of confidence.
3. Remove the “fillers” from sentences
Fillers such as “you know,” “well,” “like,” “so,” and “uh” are words slipped in as placeholders when we think between words and sentences. Most people add fillers in their talk as a matter of habit. Meaningless fillers can undermine your confident tone.
Compare the following two sentences:
- We should go over some details of this proposal.
- I mean, we should, you know, go over some details of this proposal.
In the second sentence, two filler phrases damage the fluency of the sentence and add uncertainty to the speaker’s voice. While it is not easy to totally remove fillers, but we should deliberately reduce the use of those words.
Other commonly used fillers are qualifiers such as “obviously,” “actually,” “basically,” and “kind of.” Most time, these words add no value to your sentence and should be removed. If you frequently use such qualifiers when you speak, you will sound wordy, boring, and confusing.
4. Do not often deprecate yourself at the beginning of your sentence
Some people often deprecate themselves before expressing their views, such as “This may be a stupid question, but …” “I might be wrong, but…” “I am not sure whether this is relevant, but…” If you doubt about the value of your own statement, why should others care about what you have to say?
5. Reduce the use of “I feel,” “I think,” “just”
Both “I feel” and “I think” weaken the tone of the speaker. An article in the Harvard Business Review points out that when you use “I think,” you pass a feeling of uncertainty to the audience.
Another word that can weaken the tone is “just.” It diminishes the importance of what you say. For example, “This is just the activity our group was engaged in.” vs. “This is the activity our group was engaged in.” Adding “just” in a sentence weakens importance of your engagement.
6. Do not speak too fast
When you speak too fast, people may perceive it as a sign of nervousness and lack of confidence. Talking fast may affect the clarity of your pronunciation, lead to confusion and misunderstanding.
Practice these tips to speak more confidently. You can record a conversation you have with a colleague or a group meeting you participate in and listen to what you sound like. It will help you catch the habits you may not be aware of and learn what you need to work on.