Top Tips for Communicating with Confidence

Yesterday evening I was delighted to be invited to speak at the 3Day Startup event held in The Gravity Centre in Dublin.  For more about Gravity click here.

3Day Startup is an Austin-based company whose mission is to kick-start new student-run companies and build entrepreneurial capabilities in third level students and their communities.  They have run more than 130 programs around the world and those have given rise to 79 companies. This is the first year this event has been held in Dublin.

Their schedule was action packed and my slot was short, so the topic I chose was “Tips for Communicating with Confidence”.  Over the 3 days they would be constantly communicating.  From sharing ideas with their team, right through to telephoning potential customers and delivering a pitch on day 3.

By the way, you might be wondering what the pug picture is doing in this post.  He was on one of my slides – you will find out below!

Here is a very brief summary of the tips:

Confident posture

If you want to feel confident, you need to stand in a confident posture.   Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist proved that standing in a confident stance increases testosterone and reduces cortisol.  Standing tall not only makes you look confident but makes you feel confident.

See her brilliant TED talk for the full story –  Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.

Speak Congruently

In short, make sure your 3 V’s are in synch.  Your Vocal, Visual and Verbal indicators need to be totally matching.  When they are out of synch it sounds like you are robotically delivering a bunch of words.  The opposite to being out of synch and robotic, is to be congruent, put another way, it means to say things like you really mean it.  When you do this your voice and gestures vary to match your message and you absolutely sound more confident and credible.

Eye Contact

You don’t see confident speakers looking at the ground, the ceiling or out into space.  They look at people as they talk to them. Apart from it looking terrible when you look up and look down, it can also make you appear less credible.  I am sure you have heard the expression “Look me in the eye and tell me…” – so look at them!

If you struggle to look people right in the eye, try looking at the bridge of the nose, the eyebrows or at the edge of the eye.  Incidentally, this was the slide where I had Bart, our cute pug as the visual.  Now there’s a guy who knows how to look you right in the eye!


Having made the point about eye contact above – sometimes there is a person or persons in the audience who look at us in a way that is a real confidence sucker.

So, just lollipop them.  You think of a person who always makes you feel good about yourself.  That person who actually stokes your confidence.  It could be a partner, a family member or maybe even a four-legged friend like Bart.  Place an imaginary lollipop with that person’s (or animal’s) face etched on it in front of the face of the confidence sucker.   Speak as if you are speaking to the confidence stoker and it really does re-boot your confidence.


A company called Science of Life did some research recently with 750 volunteers who looked at TED talks.  They found that the talks that had the most gestures correlated with the overall favourites.  Co-incidence?  I think not.

When you are gesturing, don’t forget your facial expressions.  We have 80 muscles in our faces capable of over 6,000 gestures – use them!

Speak with power

When you inject power into your voice it makes you sound more powerful.  The last thing you want is to speak so quietly that it sounds like you are not sure of what you are saying.

Be sure to project from your diaphragm and not your throat.  There are many reasons for this.  My top 2 are – firstly, it is safer for your vocal nodes and secondly, it sounds like projection rather than SHOUTING which is what happens when we project from our throat.  SHOUTING IS NOT GOOD!

STOP … and pause

Really confident speakers pause …. a lot.  They tend to speak in shorter sentences.  Therefore, having more impact.  Their silence speaks volumes.  Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” averages at just 106 words per minute.  You should aim to average no more than 120 words a minute, or 2 words a second, for real impact.  Remember, this is an average, so it allows plenty of time for pausing.


I know it sounds really trite but smiling really helps you to feel confident.  There are many reasons for this.  One of them is that it releases endorphins and these make us feel good.  They are also a perfect antidote to the nerves.

Word of caution, do not smile the whole time – it looks fake.  Second word of caution – back to our points above, don’t smile if what you are saying requires an alternative facial gesture.

If you liked this blog, you might also like 10 tips for effective presentations.

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