Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. How untrue! I get that this phrase is meant to instill a greater self-worth and confidence so that mean words roll off your back. In truth, however, words do hurt and they are powerful. They can help or harm your life. They can lead to a beautiful marriage, or a divorce. They can inspire someone to take on a monumental challenge, or walk away from it. Ultimately words can nurture progress or regression.
Lately I’ve represented my needs and opinions inadequately. After speaking in meetings, I sense that rather than supporting my cause, I’ve done it a disservice. I care about my work and how I’m perceived so I decided to research speaking with confidence and stumbled across a YouTube video that helped me. As the speaker enumerated each point, I felt like a culprit. Now being aware of what to do differently, I amended the way I speak and I’m seeing quick improvements.
In the video, Nur, the speaker, calls out the following tips for speaking with confidence.
1. Don’t Disqualify Yourself – Stop using words like just, maybe, probably, I think, um, I don’t know, etc. These words weaken your position and leave the listener questioning your certainty and credibility. I knew about my tendency to overuse “just” last year and eradicated it from use at work. The others, however, I’ve caught myself frequently using. It is unnerving every time I noticed myself saying them now, so I’m sure I’ll remove them quickly as well – unless it’s meant literally, of course. If you genuinely don’t know or are speaking about an actual probability, then you’ve used the word correctly.
2. Don’t Trail Off – I seem to catch more women than men doing this, myself included. I do this when I’m talking about a subject I feel inadequate in. People who do this come across as poor contributors to the conversation. Speak with authority on a subject, and if you can’t, remain silent. Then you can focus on listening and learning.
3. Be Articulate – Grow your vocabulary. This is advice I give often and I love the suggestions given in this video. Read more books and read them aloud. Also seek out authors who speak or write in a way that attracts you. You can improve yourself by mimicking people you admire.
4. Be Concise – Yikes, this is one I definitely struggle with. When writing it’s easy to edit the excess away, but when I speak – especially on a subject I’m less familiar with – I get verbose. I wrongly think that if I talk long enough I’ll string something together that makes a strong point. I’m giving the opposite effect though. Speaking less, says more. It will certainly give more credence to the words you do speak.
5. Think Before you Speak – This is an age old adage. It goes hand in hand with Be Concise. When you think through your responses, you can better remove emotional and reactionary words. This shows you as being level headed. Furthermore you can use silence to gather attention for what you are about to say.
This quick summary, is just that, a quick summary. I hope you’ll take time to watch Nur’s video because she does a wonderful job demonstrating and explaining her tips. For those who enjoy this video, also watch this one on building confidence. One last point Nur makes is to develop a cadence and inflection for your voice. Those used with the tips above and occasional silence, indicate to her a mastery of the English language. I couldn’t agree more. She’s motivated me to more consciously apply these techniques, and I hope you will do the same.