Do you look and sound like someone who's a success? Here are 10 easy ways to make people have more confidence in you.
When it comes to professional success, it's not all about public speaking. So this week, let's not discuss speeches, presentations, pitches, and the rest.
Let's talk about interpersonal skills. Your intelligence, empathy, concern for people, and the sheer amount of attention you give those you talk to are all factors in communicating successfully. These may be "soft" skills, but they pack a lot of punch in terms of influencing and persuading others. Use that knowledge as positive self-talk and positive thinking on your part.
One skill you need to succeed is focus. It's a must for people to have confidence in what you say. Get my free cheat sheet, "10 Ways to Stay Fully Focused when Speaking."
Here are 10 communication skills that will help people have confidence in who and what you are. Make each of them a habit, because they are as important as they are subtle (at times).
10 Must-Have Communication Skills
#1 Make Strong Eye Contact. Did you know that in a conversation, you look away more when you're speaking than when you're listening? But think about that. Shouldn't it be the other way around? If you're trying to persuade someone to buy into your ideas, you really need to establish trust through eye contact. If this is hard for you, practice it diligently. After all, do you believe someone who won't look you in the eye?
#2 Listen. If you're a really good listener, you're showing those you talk to two things: (1) You care about what they're saying, and (2) You're confident enough in who you are not to try to impress them. And just as in acting, it's a key skill for responding, because you'll hear nuances, intentions, and emotions that often lie beneath what someone is saying. In the theater, we call that subtext, and it always matters.
#3 Take Your Time. One of the things that gives us confidence in people is when they assume control of their speech and actions. And one of the ways we see that, is that they take things at exactly the pace they want to. People who are nervous or uncertain show it, partly by rushing because they're not secure in the situation. Taking control of your own expression is one way to know how to demonstrate leadership as a speaker.
#4 Establish Your Rhythm. To display that kind of self-control, you have establish your own rhythm. Think about someone you have confidence in concerning their professional role. Don't they move, react, and speak in their own rhythm in almost all circumstances? When people show us they have command over their personal brand, we have confidence that they're strong enough not to be swayed by others.
#5 Consider Your Posture. Is this too mundane an item to worry about? Uh-uh. Good posture shows that a person takes herself or himself seriously. The moment you walk into a room people are making judgments about you, and part of it has to do with how you hold yourself and move. As I say: "How you stand affects your standing with others." Sitting, too. When I conduct simulated media interviews with a client then play the videos back, it's amazing how strongly poor posture announces itself on screen.
#6 Stay Loose Physically. Speaking of nonverbal communication and what it says about you, what are you showing in terms of relaxation or tension? The next time you watch someone gesture, pay attention to whether their arms, hands, and fingers are loose or tightened up. The latter can be an indication of discomfort or anxiety when expressing oneself in front of others. Stay loose, and people will be more comfortable around you, and confident they can stay so.
#7 Move with Purpose. Body language again. Since the body is a prime communication tool, movement and gestures matter. What you do with your hands can either dismiss what you're saying as unimportant, or emphasize it strongly. There's no need to plan your gestures beforehand. But don't leave it all to chance either. Here's a code to live by for purposeful body language: create the conditions for the gesture by investing strongly in what you're feeling, and the results will be authentic.
#8 Be Clear and Concise. Do you know any brilliant people who can't get their points across concisely and clearly? I'll bet you do. Polonius in Hamlet says, "brevity is the soul of wit." The fact that he's a windbag makes his remark all the funnier. And it's because we know that the sentiment is true that it's especially funny coming from this character. Be clear and concise and you'll gain the reputation of being a person anyone can have confidence in.
#9 Pay Attention to What You're Seeing. Sure, you want to do well and be thought of positively when you talk to others. And you know that you must focus on the things you say. But that's only half the reality. You really need to pay attention to how what you're saying is coming across. So watch and listen (#2 above). What are others' body language, facial expressions, and rhythms of how they respond to you telling you?
#10 Ask Questions. Here's a great item to end this list with. It's easy to tell people things we know, especially if we believe they need to know those things. But it can all get tiresome after a while. If you remind yourself to stop now and then to ask something that indicates whether your listener(s) are still with you, pretty soon you won't have to remind yourself. Every time you do this, it tells the person or group that you're really interested in their receiving this information, and not in hearing yourself speak. You can understand how this can be helpful . . . can't you?
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