As soon as you start talking, the people in the room with you are decoding not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. Nobody’s going to buy what you’re selling if you’re constantly touching your hair or nervously shifting from one foot to the other, likewise in a meeting or a presentation you need to know how to get people’s attention.
1. Work on your body language first
The most confident person in the room is usually sitting with their spine straight and their body language open. If you’re standing, do the same. Point your feet forward and keep your back as straight as possible. Slouching and bad posture are the first things people will notice, and it will change their reception of what you’re saying.
2. Think about what you’re saying
Most of the time it’s about cutting the crap and talking with confidence. People think to sound smarter they have to use clichés and large words. The problem comes when you and your audience aren’t too sure of their meaning.
Don’t rely on verbal fillers to keep the conversational floor either, using “umm” and “err” is a normal part of our speech but if you want to deliver a confident speech, sometimes it’s better to have a few seconds of silence to form your words.
3. Speak slowly and evenly
Project your voice but don’t shout or dominate. Speaking slowly (but not too slowly!) and evenly gives others the impression that you are not in a rush to get your point across and that you’re confident that they need to hear what you’re saying.
4. Avoid ‘uptalk’
We all do this. Uptalk is when the intonation in your voice rises at the end of a sentence, making it seem like a question. Only use this for actual questions, keeping a measured voice will keep your audience listening.
Remember you don’t want to dominate the floor unless you’re giving a presentation or a speech, asking others questions about themselves or their line of work and engaging them is a good way to make connections.
5. Welcome criticism and questions
A closed leader is one that thinks they are always right and is annoyed by feedback and criticism. There are appropriate times for feedback, and you should welcome it in order to grow. Ask people how you could improve and take it on board.
It’s all about holding yourself accountable!
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