How to look and sound more confident
Virtually every coaching session I do, whether it is with a group or 1 to 1, whether experienced speakers or novice – the question of confidence almost always arises. People say they want to look and sound confident.
So how do you do this?
Apart from being well-prepared, which in itself is probably the best way to help with confidence – the key to looking and sounding more confident is to address your stance and your voice.
I often ask those I work with to stand like a CEO – it’s amazing to watch how people suddenly become up to half an inch taller! So, the quick way to look and feel confident is to just stand like a CEO. For those of you who prefer the step by step approach:
1. Begin by standing with your feet hip width apart.
2. Keep the weight evenly on the left and right leg.
3. Put a little more weight on the heels than on the rest of the foot, about 55%. Why? Well, your body joins to your feet at the back of the heels so it works best dynamically to put a little more weight here.
4. Put your shoulders back so that they line up your with waist, hips and ankles.
5. If your chin is hanging forward pull it back so that the back of your neck is nicely aligned with your back.
6. Lastly, make sure that your chin is parallel to the ground, not pointing down to the ground or up to the ceiling.
The above will probably feel a bit odd so to feel more natural, once you have assumed the position above, come out of it, give yourself a shake and go back into it. This should make you feel “looser” in it.
You don’t have to stand like this the whole time but certainly when you start and when you finish and if you feel your confidence dipping in the middle.
If you want to sound more confident, there is just one word – project. Did you ever notice that when people are arguing they tend to raise their voices? Something about speaking louder makes us feel that what we are saying is more correct – even if it is not! Try it; say a sentence in a very quiet voice, next say it much louder … do you notice how you sound more credible with a bit more projection?
In order to project it is key that you breathe from the diaphragm, in other words from deep down below your rib cage. For women, in particular, if we try to project from our throats we can end up speaking in a very high pitch which can be a little irritating. The key to keeping a lower register in the voice is to project from the diaphragm.
Projection is not shouting – it is taking sufficient breath from your diaphragm to send lots of air through your vocal chords so the sound is louder. You can project while whispering, ask any parent, children can be the loudest whisperers at the most inopportune times!
So the next time you want to look and sound more confident try standing like a CEO and project like a whispering child!