8 things confident speakers always do (but never talk about)

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Are you confident speaking in front of groups?

If you answered no, you’re not alone. Did you know that a fear of public speaking is the no.1 phobia in society? Believe it or not, people fear it more than dying.

Research suggests that 75% of people have some fear and anxiety about making a speech. Chances are, although you may not like it, you’ll probably have to do some public speaking in your life whether it’s a speech for a wedding, a presentation at work, or a community event. 

So how can you build confidence as a speaker?  

Here’s the thing: it might be easier than you think. I’ve been working on my public speaking skills in the last few years and I’ve noticed that most confident speakers use a few key techniques to be brilliant and confident speakers, but they never talk about them. 

I think it’s time we talk about them. 

Today, I’m sharing 8 things that confident speakers always do but never talk about to help you reduce those fears a little and become a more confident speaker. Let’s get started. 

1) They pause often 

Pausing is one of the most powerful things you can learn to do as a speaker. It may sound easy but it’s not. Most people feel nervous speaking in front of groups which usually means they forget to just pause and take a breath. 

The truth is: talking non-stop without pausing is bad for your speech for two reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t allow the audience time to absorb and digest what you’re saying. And secondly, it makes you sound unsure of yourself.

Pausing, on the other hand, gives the audience time to take in what you’re saying and gives off the impression that you’re confident and in control. You’ll notice great speakers like Barack Obama, pausing a lot. 

Practice pausing more and you’ll soon feel a surge in confidence as a speaker.

2) They cut out filler words 

Are you plagued by filler words whenever you try to speak in public? 

You hear yourself saying them but you still can’t stop using unnecessary filler words like “um,” “ah,” or “you know.” I struggle with this. My favorites are “like” and “you know”.

Do you ever hear powerful and confident speakers using filler words? No, because they make a speech sound messy, disjointed, and lacking in authority. 

If you want to sound and feel more confident when you speak, you need to eliminate filler words. It’s a bad habit that’s incredibly hard to break but guess what? There’s a little trick. 

Pausing more intentionally helps you to cut out filler words. Just another reason to embrace the power of pausing.

3) They practice out-loud

‘Practice makes perfect’, right? Do you rehearse presentations or speeches out loud? 

So many people don’t. But wait, that means that the first time you hear your speech is when you say it in front of an audience. That’s crazy. 

Think about it: a football team wouldn’t show up to a game without practicing together first or a chef wouldn’t put a new dish on the menu without making it first. Why would you deliver a speech without practicing it out loud?

Confident speakers might not tell you this but they practice that speech out loud over and over so that they don’t just know the words but also the pauses, the pitch, the tone, and the speed. It’s one of the things that make them so confident as speakers. 

And research backs it up. In one study, those who practiced out loud delivered better speeches than those who didn’t. If you want to be a more confident speaker, start rehearsing aloud. 

4) They make eye contact

A few years back, I worked for a large global company and our CEO was in town. He delivered a speech to 200 employees. The speech was powerful, engaging, and personal. I couldn’t help but notice, he continuously made eye contact with the audience throughout. 

Confident speakers don’t talk about it a lot but eye contact is everything in public speaking. Not only does it make you look, sound, and feel more confident, but it also engages the audience, builds trust, and makes you seem more authoritative. 

Are you going to include eye contact in your next speech or presentation? 

Simply make eye contact with one person, hold for a few seconds, then break and repeat with multiple audience members. It might sound scary at first but it’ll be worth it.

5) They tell stories 

What do all great speakers have in common? 

They tell stories. Think about any speech you’ve ever witnessed, more than likely, it probably had a story in it. 

One speaker who leverages the power of storytelling is JK Rowling. In her Harvard speech, it’s easy to see how impactful it is. Stories are a speaker’s secret weapon. They use them to share information, evoke emotion, and make them more memorable. 

As outlined by Tony Robbins and team, “Stories emotionalize information. They give color and depth to otherwise bland material and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way.”

Confident speakers share stories because they know they create connections with their audience and engage them in a way that data and charts just can’t. If you want to feel more confident and stand out from the crowd as a speaker, tell stories. 

6) They vary their speed, tone & pitch

Do you talk faster when you’re nervous? 

Many people do. But not confident speakers. They vary their rate of speech throughout. 

Communication coach, Vinh Giang emphasizes the importance of rate of speech by showing how speeding up and increasing volume creates excitement. Slowing down and reducing the volume conveys sincerity. And it’s not just about speed; tone and pitch come into play as well. 

Ever notice that people usually end a question with a high pitch, “Would you like a cup of tea?” The voice tends to go upward on tea, right? But ending on an upward pitch when you’re not asking a question makes you sound like you lack confidence and authority. Watch out for this. 

Tone is all about the mood of your voice and confident speakers vary it to keep things interesting. We’ve all sat through a talk from someone with a monotone and struggled to pay attention, right?

Varying speed, tone, and pitch is another little-known trick that speakers use to convey confidence and hold the audience’s attention.

7) They use their hands for impact 

One of the hardest things about delivering a speech when you don’t feel confident is knowing what to do with your hands, right? 

You can’t stand there with your arms motionless by your side, but you also want to make sure you’re not fidgeting awkwardly. Sometimes you can hold something but it’s not always appropriate, so what’s the solution?

Confident speakers never talk about it but they use their body language to enhance their speeches. They use their hands in particular to show confidence, enthusiasm, and to emphasize their points. 

Most people forget to incorporate intentional body language into their speeches and presentations but it’s vitally important. Communication is:

  • 7% verbal
  • 38% tone of voice
  • 55% body language 

That means more than half of what you’re saying comes from your body language. As you work to improve your speaking and presenting skills, don’t forget to use your hands and body to deliver your message, it’ll make you look and feel more confident. 

8) They prepare until it looks effortless 

Behind every ‘effortless’ speech is a lot of preparation. Confident speakers prepare relentlessly so that every aspect of their speech is nailed before they step out in front of the audience.

It’s this extensive preparation that allows them to seem so relaxed and confident. They’ve practiced not only the speech but also the delivery and their body language. They know it all inside out and as a result, appear confident and comfortable

Although they may not say it often, all confident speakers know preparation is the secret to success, or as Benjamin Franklin put it: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Final thoughts

There you have it, 8 things that confident speakers always do but never talk about.

Which ones are you going to start working on first? 

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Cat Harper

Cat is an experienced Sales and Enablement professional turned writer whose passions span from psychology and relationships to continuous self-improvement, lifelong learning and pushing back on societal expectations to forge a life she loves. An avid traveler and adventure sports enthusiast, in her downtime you'll find Cat snowboarding, motorcycling or working on her latest self-development project.

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