Confident communicators are not afraid to take up their space at the table and let their voices be heard. They know their subject well and project a strong belief in what they're saying without being conceited or arrogant. And as a result, the audience is more likely to listen to them and trust what they're saying.
Here are 9 tips for communicating with confidence:
1. Know your subject. Although this seems obvious, it's important to restate it. Before you communicate anything, make sure you do your homework and are prepared so you have something valuable to share with the audience.
2. Speak clearly. Be careful not to mumble. It's important to enunciate your words so people can understand what you're saying. This is especially important if you're presenting to non-native speakers of English.
3. Speak loudly. How loudly? Loudly enough to be heard, which depends on the room size, number of people, ambient noise, etc. Project your voice or use a microphone to make it easier for the audience to hear you and to demonstrate that you want your voice to be heard (literally and figuratively).
5. Cut out the weak words. Words like "sorta," "just," or "kinda" minimize the impact of your stated opinion or message. I've even heard people use these weak, minimizing words when introducing themselves: "my project is just about work orders and I'm just responsible for kinda getting the production techs to provide status on the open work orders." Catch yourself saying these weak words and eliminate them.
6. Stand confidently. Confident posture means you stand up straight, shoulders back, with weight evenly distributed on both feet, knees relaxed and no slouching.
7. Move with purpose. Avoid nervous pacing or rocking back and forth on your heels. If you walk into the audience or towards the flipchart, make it deliberate.
8. Make eye contact. Confident people (in Western culture) communicate while looking people in the eyes. So be sure to make eye contact with people in the audience rather than looking nervously at the floor, the ceiling or the big screen where your slides are projected.
9. Be aware of your hands. Use your hands for gestures that visually illustrate your message. Avoid nervous movements like clutching your notes tightly or putting your hands in your pockets and playing with your spare change.
The next time you have to communicate with an audience of one or one hundred, become aware of what message you're sending about your confidence or lack thereof. If you project confidence, the audience is more likely to listen to you and believe your message. And as you feel more confident, you will be better able to access your experience and your knowledge of the subject.