If you really want to become a confident speaker, say goodbye to these 10 habits

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Want to be great at speaking in front of people?


But wait—before you jump in, let’s talk.

There are some bad habits that might be slowing you down. We all have them, and it’s time to kick ’em out.

In this article, we’ll list 8 habits you should drop if you want to speak confidently.

Ready to get better?

Let’s go. 

Habit #1: Saying “Um,” “Uh,” and “You Know” Way Too Much

Let’s start with something we all do: using filler words like “um,” “uh,” and “you know.”

We slip these words in when we’re thinking, nervous, or just trying to keep the conversation going.

Problem is, they can make us sound unsure and less confident.

Why This is a Problem:

Because every “um” takes away from the great stuff you’re actually trying to say. People want to hear your ideas, not your “ums.”

How to Break It:

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Record yourself speaking and play it back. Every time you hear an “um,” that’s a sign to tighten things up.
  • Pause: Instead of filling the silence with “um,” just pause. Take a breath. It gives you a moment to think and looks way more confident.

That’s habit number one out of the way. Trust me, cutting out the filler will make a big difference!

Habit #2: Avoiding Eye Contact

Oh boy, I’ve been there. You’re up in front of a room, and suddenly the floor seems way more interesting than the sea of eyes staring back at you.

Maybe you think avoiding eye contact makes things less intimidating, but guess what? It’s doing just the opposite.

It makes you seem less sure of yourself, and it also makes it hard for your audience to connect with you.

Why This is a Problem:

When you avoid eye contact, people might think you’re hiding something or that you’re not confident in what you’re saying.

Your words could be golden, but if you’re not making that eye-to-eye connection, you’re losing out.

How to Break It:

  • The 3-Second Rule: Make eye contact with someone for about 3 seconds before moving on to the next person. Long enough to connect, but not too long that it becomes awkward.
  • Practice with Friends: Before you hit the big stage, practice making eye contact when talking with friends and family. Ask them for feedback. Did it feel natural? Too intense? Adjust accordingly.

By making eye contact, you’re not just looking at people; you’re connecting with them. And that’s what confident speaking is all about!

Habit #3: Playing It Safe by Sticking to the Script

Look, I get it. Having a script or talking points can feel like a safety net.

You’ve got every word planned out, and there’s comfort in that.

But here’s the raw truth: Sticking too closely to a script can make you come off as robotic and unrelatable.

Life isn’t scripted, and your speech shouldn’t be, either.

Why This is a Problem:

When you focus too much on not missing a single word, you lose the real connection with your audience.

They came for a real person, not a rehearsed robot. Your speech loses its spark.

How to Break It:

  • Know Your Stuff, Don’t Memorize It: Understand your topic well enough so that you can speak naturally about it. Use bullet points instead of a word-for-word script.
  • Be in the Moment: Let your passion for the topic guide you. If you find yourself veering off script because you’re excited, that’s usually a good thing!

Ditching the script doesn’t mean you’re unprepared; it means you’re prepared enough to be yourself. And that’s where real confidence comes from.

Habit #4: Trying to Be Perfect

Wait, isn’t the goal to give the perfect speech, hit all the right points, and never make a mistake? Actually, no.

Striving for perfection is a trap. It’s stressful, and guess what? Audiences don’t want perfect. They want real, authentic you.

Why This is a Problem:

Aiming for perfection can make you super nervous because let’s be honest, perfection is impossible.

And when you’re nervous, it shows. Instead of listening to your message, people are picking up on your anxiety.

How to Break It:

  • Embrace Mistakes: If you stumble over a word or lose your place, own it. A small hiccup can actually make you more relatable.
  • Focus on Value, Not Flawlessness: Are you providing helpful or inspiring information? That’s what really matters, not whether you delivered it without a single “um” or pause.

Let go of the idea of a “perfect speech,” because perfection doesn’t equal connection. What people really resonate with is genuine emotion and authenticity.

Habit #5: Ignoring Your Body Language

You might think speaking is all about the words coming out of your mouth, but your body is talking, too.

If you’re slouched, fidgeting, or have your arms crossed, it sends a message—and it’s usually not a confident one.

Why This is a Problem:

Body language can shout louder than your words. You could be saying the most inspiring stuff, but if you’re hunched over or keep shifting your weight, people might not take you seriously.

How to Break It:

  • Stand Tall: Good posture isn’t just for looking good in photos; it also exudes confidence. Lift your chest, pull your shoulders back, and hold your head high.
  • Use Your Hands: But use them wisely. Gestures can emphasize your points, but too much can be distracting. Find a balance.

Remember, communication isn’t just verbal. Your body language is part of the conversation, so make sure it’s saying what you want it to say.

Habit #6: Speeding Through Your Speech

I can totally relate to this one. I used to think talking fast made me look smarter or more confident.

But you know what? It did just the opposite. People couldn’t keep up, and I lost them.

If you’re rushing through your words like you’ve got a plane to catch, it’s time to slow down.

Why This is a Problem:

Speed-talking can make you sound nervous or like you can’t wait to finish. It also makes it hard for your audience to digest what you’re saying.

Your message? Lost in the blur.

How to Break It:

  • Time Yourself: During practice, time your speech to make sure you’re not rushing. It can be eye-opening to see how fast you actually talk.
  • Breathe: It sounds simple, but taking deep breaths not only calms your nerves; it naturally slows down your speech.

Taking it slow isn’t a sign of insecurity; it shows that you value what you’re saying enough to let it sink in. And believe me, your audience will thank you for it.

Habit #7: Comparing Yourself to Others

It’s super easy to watch someone give an incredible speech and think, “I’ll never be that good.”

Been there, done that.

But here’s the thing: comparing yourself to others is like poisoning your confidence.

It’s not about them; it’s about you and your message.

Why This is a Problem:

When you’re stuck in the comparison trap, you’re not focusing on improving; you’re focusing on what you’re not. And that’s a confidence killer right there.

How to Break It:

  • Run Your Own Race: Remember, every speaker started somewhere. Instead of measuring yourself against others, track your own progress.
  • Celebrate Small Wins: Nailed that eye contact? Felt more at ease than last time? Those are victories. Celebrate them.

You’re not going to become a confident speaker overnight, but comparing yourself to others will make sure you never do. Focus on being the best version of you, and the confidence will follow.

Habit #8: Neglecting to Practice Out Loud

You might think you’re prepared because you’ve gone over your speech a hundred times—in your head.

Newsflash: Thinking it and saying it are two completely different ball games.

If you’re not practicing out loud, you’re setting yourself up for surprises that could shake your confidence.

Why This is a Problem:

When you only rehearse in your head, you miss out on important aspects like timing, tone, and those tricky tongue-twisters. Plus, you don’t get a feel for how your words actually sound in the air.

How to Break It:

  • Speak in Front of a Mirror: You’ll get used to seeing yourself talk, which helps with stage fright. Plus, you can keep an eye on that body language we talked about earlier.
  • Record and Playback: Use your phone to record your practice runs. Listening to the playback will highlight areas for improvement that you might not catch otherwise.

Being prepared is about more than just knowing your lines. It’s about knowing how to deliver them, and you only get that from practicing out loud.

Habit #9: Ignoring Your Audience

It might sound weird, but speaking isn’t just about you—it’s also about your audience.

Ever been stuck listening to a speech that felt like it was in a different language?

That’s what happens when a speaker doesn’t consider who they’re talking to.

Why This is a Problem:

If you’re not tuned into your audience, you’ll miss the mark. They’ll feel disconnected, and you’ll lose the impact you could have had.

How to Break It:

  • Know Your Crowd: Are you speaking to students, professionals, hobbyists? What they’re interested in should guide what you say and how you say it.
  • Read the Room: While you’re speaking, keep an eye on the audience. Are they engaged or dozing off?
  • Be prepared to adjust your style or even your content on the fly to keep them with you.

Taking a few moments to get to know your audience can turn a good speech into a great one. Trust me, they’ll notice, and so will your confidence level.

Habit #10: Failing to Use Stories and Examples

Let’s face it, data and facts are important, but they can also be boring or hard to grasp.

If you’re not peppering in some real-life stories or examples, you’re missing a chance to make your speech memorable and relatable.

Why This is a Problem:

Numbers and abstract concepts can fly over people’s heads or put them to sleep. Stories and examples, on the other hand, make your message come alive. They stick.

How to Break It:

  • Be Relatable: Use examples or anecdotes that your audience can relate to. Make it something that could happen to them or someone they know.
  • Keep It Simple: Your story doesn’t have to be complex or overly dramatic. Even a simple example can drive your point home effectively.

Stories aren’t just for bedtime; they’re a powerful tool in your speaking arsenal. When you make it relatable, you make it memorable. And a memorable speech is a confident one.

Conclusion: Own Your Voice, Own the Stage

Look, nobody becomes a confident speaker overnight. It’s a journey, and like any journey, you’ll have your ups and downs.

But guess what? That’s how you grow.

By saying goodbye to these 10 bad habits, you’re not just avoiding pitfalls; you’re building a stronger, more authentic speaking style that’s uniquely yours.

Don’t let these habits hold you back. Kick them to the curb and embrace the kind of speaker you’ve always wanted to be—confident, engaging, and, most importantly, real.

Take these practical tips, put in the work, and you’ll not only own your voice but you’ll own that stage, too.

Related articles:


Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

The art of a mindful apology: 10 times when saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough

If a woman displays these 12 behaviors, she’s deeply in love