Sound More Confident – Speaking Confidently – The Voice of Confidence!
Today I’ve been playing around on Twitter as I’ve only just discovered how the # works! (Embarrassing but true!) So I hunted for #confidence and #voice and although I didn’t search exhaustively I couldn’t see anything much about how to use your voice to sound more confident, if you want to.
There are many times when sounding confident could be useful!
If you have been to any of my talks you may remember a story I often repeat about when I was working with a CEO of a large PLC whose shares would go down each time he presented to the city. If you don’t already know – that isn’t the idea!
When you present to your shareholders and stakeholders you want the shares to grow because you have given everyone confidence in your organisation’s future performance.
In this particular case, the reason the CEO was sabotaging the confidence in his stakeholders was largely because he sounded as if he wasn’t confident. His voice was very quiet and he used quite a lot of rising inflections (when the voice pitch goes up at the end of a phrase or sentence). He barely paused and he kept saying er and um. He used minimal muscularity too so the quiet sound didn’t really travel out from him to his audience and the final contributory factor was that his attention wasn’t fully getting to the back of the room.
Because people judge you on the way you sound and look as well as through the content of what you are saying, like it or not, it can be really important to make sure you are conveying your message the way you want to. The truth is that people aren’t always right in their judgements! Someone who is confident of his company but doesn’t feel confident when public speaking could give the impression he isn’t confident of his company! Sad but true.
So what are the tricks to sounding confident?
What does a confident sounding voice involve?
1. You need to be loud enough.
Being quietly confident is definitely possible and can work in your favour in some instances. But if you want to sound quiet AND confident then it is even more essential to have the qualities below in bucket loads! Under normal circumstances, if your voice sounds too quiet to hear easily and makes the listener work to hear it, then you won’t sound instantly full of confidence. Confident sounding people are happy for you to hear what they have to say. Shy and retiring sounds quiet usually. It really is obvious and if you think of people you have heard who sound confident you will mostly be able to identify that their voice is definitely loud enough.
2. You have to use Muscularity and Energy.
A confident sounding voice is full of energy. A lack of movement in the lips and jaw and tongue looks and sounds like a lack of energy. As if you aren’t really invested in what you are saying. The sound of certainty is definitely energised. If you watch yourself talking in the mirror and you can see that you are not moving your lips, tongue and jaw much or opening your mouth to let the sound out well, you probably could do with some voice exercises to tone up the muscles. This doesn’t mean you have to go over the top! It is just tiring to spend time listening to someone who moves their mouths more than necessary! Especially if the other parts of this Confident Voice Cocktail are not evident! That cloying sound of too much movement without the falling inflections or with too much drama all the time is demanding and certainly makes me feel a bit irritated!!
3. Pitch – Use falling inflections.
This is a classic vocal trait which gives a voice a confident sound. When you drop the pitch at the end of a phrase it sounds like a statement or a command. It sounds like you are sure of what you are saying. Questions have a rise at the end of the phrase or tell you something more is coming and you haven’t finished. So you would use a rising inflection for lists as well as questions. But too many in inappropriate places is also demanding and needy sounding. Unfortunately you can hear this a lot these days – it is quite fashionable to use too many rising inflections. Too few and it sounds like you are not connecting with your listener. But too many and you lose all the impact and confident sound. So make sure that when it is a statement of fact you drop the pitch at the end of the phrase if you want to sound like you are confident of what you are saying!
4. Drop the ers and ums.
Do I really need to say this? Ers and Ums just make your listener feel you don’t know what to say next. A pause is powerful (see below) – don’t undermine your power and confident sound by filling up the pauses with fluff and ers and ums!
5. Place your Attention.
Some voice coaches would call this “placement”. Where your voice is “placed”. For some reason I don’t understand, where your attention is, your voice goes. There are exceptions to this in some cases where the person hasn’t calibrated their voices correctly and so may not get it exactly right and there are ways to put that right. But in the main, if your attention is on the person to whom you are talking – or the people to whom you are speaking – your voice will reach them.
6. Measured Pace and More Pauses.
This is absolutely key! When you are speaking really fast it can sound like you aren’t confident enough to let people have time to process what you are saying. Slower voices often sound more definite although too slow and you will lose the attention of your listeners. Most importantly PAUSE often and just wait while your listener takes in what you have just said. If there is one thing that you are going to do to sound more confident, practice getting your pauses right. One word of warning though – when you pause it is essential to keep your attention absolutely focused on your listener(s). If you pause and wander off with your attention you will just lose your listener. Pause and wait and watch. Internally hold your attention on the listener while you watch them process and only speak again once you see they have absorbed what you have just said!
I am happy to say that if you think you don’t sound confident and want to learn how to sound more confident it is easy and quick to learn the tricks! I am also happy to say that the CEO I mention at the top of this post spent a morning with me and the next time he presented his company’s results and forecasts to the City – the shares went up! Great for me! A measurable result of how useful it can be to pay attention to your voice 🙂
I hope you found this post useful and interesting.
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