Saying it with confidence

Speaking Confidently

How can you speak confidently?

Speaking confidently can be achieved by using techniques which create a dynamic message. However, the most important thing to remember is to fully know and understand what you are saying, and why you are saying it.
A monotone delivery, low energy, speaking softly and mumbling are not enjoyed by anyone. Your voice has the power to completely change what others think of you. You can choose to be the authentic you.
In 2009 when Susan Boyle performed on Britain’s Got Talent, she surpassed preconceived notions of what a good singer is supposed to look like. Her voice created a personal brand that has become well-known.
This is the fourth in a series of 2020 blogs on confidence.
The main techniques when using your voice are speech clarity, creating word pictures, voice projection, pace, pitch, pausing and inflection.
When public speaking, to one or two people, or to a larger audience, the same techniques can be used.

Key ways to speak confidently

1. Speech clarity
Speech clarity means what you are saying is clear in quality and pronounced correctly. It means you can easily be understood by others.
To improve your clarity, practise saying tongue twisters, as mastering them will allow you to learn to keep your voice clear and speak with confidence. Reading aloud will also develop your clarity of speech.
Make sure you pronounce small words like ‘the’ and ‘a’. Avoid running words together and avoid skipping words. A slower delivery pace may allow for greater clarity.
Choose words and phrases which are easy to pronounce and are known by your audience.
Speaking confidently means you can be understood

2. Word pictures
You can share images with your listener or audience.
Consider the words ‘wedding dress’. Each listener receives an image of a wedding dress in their own mind. It may be a full white laced dress with a pink bow, or an ivory satin pencil dress, or some other dress. The speaker’s role is to provide the audience with the same picture in each person’s mind. In the case of the wedding dress, one could say it had ‘a delicate rose bud lace over a white princess-line dress’.
For every thought, feeling or situation, paint word pictures in your conversations and presentations. In order to do this, you need to carefully select the correct words to create the picture you want to express to everyone.
Speaking confidently means providing specific details to paint word pictures

3. Voice projection
Voice projection is the strength of speaking whereby the voice is clearly heard by your listeners.
Speaking very quietly gives the impression that you are hesitant, nervous and not confident. People will have to strain to hear and some with hearing loss may not hear you at all.
Practise projecting your voice by delivering your words from the diaphragm. Increasing the volume by yelling is not projecting your voice. Projection has depth, giving a deeper more rounded sound. Yelling sounds flat with a higher pitch. By correctly projecting your voice it will save you from straining your vocal cords.

Three best practices are to:

  • Breathe properly – fill your lungs rather than breathing shallow, as this will prevent you running out of air.
  • Speak with energy – insert energy as you articulate your words because this impacts on how far your voice carries.
  • Back of the wall technique – pick a spot on the back wall and speak to that spot as this is a guide to where to project your voice.
  • Speaking confidently means you are able to be heard

4. Pace
Pace is the speed at which you speak. The majority of people speak too quickly. Pacing is critical to adding depth and dimension to your voice. Long, complex sentences tend to make you cram them into one breath. Speak in short sentences supported by small breaths.

Practise your speeches aloud and time yourself. Allow time for the audience to absorb and understand your content. Allow time for your audience to have progressive thoughts. This means speaking slower than your normal conversational rate. Allow time for laughter, squirming, sadness and other emotions to be expressed.
Speaking confidently means slowing your delivery
to allow listeners to process what is being said

5. Pitch
The pitch is the variation in the frequency of your voice, the rate of vibrations; highness and lowness of sound. This allows the sound to be interesting, ‘alive’ and appropriate to the purpose of what you are saying.

Select the words in the following sentence which you feel are important.
The trouble with your serve is that you let your racquet drop too low and you don’t stretch up to hit the ball.
You may choose:
The trouble with your serve is that you let your racquet drop too low and you don’t stretch up to hit the ball.
You may consider other words:
The trouble with your serve is that you let your racquet drop too low and you don’t stretch up to hit the ball.
The pitch will vary with the emphasis on the words selected.

Pitch also concerns the modulation of your voice during the whole speech or conversation. If you wish to sound serious, try not to speak with a high pitched voice that is associated with children, excitement and anger. Think about how you want to sound. If you say, “I caught a fish this big”, you can vary the pitch and especially on the word ‘this’ as you gesture the size of the fish.

Speaking confidently means you make the important words stand out

6. Pausing
Silence, when used correctly, can be much more effective than actually speaking. Speaking confidently means not being afraid of silence.
To be an effective speaker you need to pause before an important word or phrase. This gives the audience a chance to anticipate what you are about to say, which can create excitement, mystery or emotions. The pause creates a dramatic effect.
It is also equally effective to pause after the important word or phrase as this provides time to reflect on what you have just said.
To be really dramatic and highlight the word or phrase, pause before and after. The length of pauses can vary to meet your presentation needs.
Pause after each thought or point, as this allows the audience to process what has been said before being thrown the next passage of information.
There is an added benefit for you the speaker. During pauses you can take a breath and plan what you are going to say next.
Speaking confidently means the use of pauses to create effect

7. Inflection
Inflection is the change in the form of a word, typically the ending, to express a tense, mood, gender, person, case, number, et cetera. It is the modulation of intonation (rise and fall of the voice) and/or pitch (degree of the rise or fall) in the voice. It is the grammatical term often used for nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Examples:
Change in the form of a word: flower to flowers (number)
Pam to Pam’s (case)
him to himself (person)
open to opened (past tense)
Note the change in the voice when the extra letters are added to a word.
Speaking confidently means using inflection to enhance your content

How can you speak confidently?
Learn and practise these techniques at Speaking Made Easy

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