Oprah, Clinton, the Dalai Lama. Their names alone are enough to inflict an internal response, so you can appreciate the intensity of sharing a room with them. Yup - a little like being caught in the gravitational force of a small planet! I can thank a career in journalism for these out-of-body experiences.
So what did I learn from the privilege of their presence? Through years of practice, these captivating communicators have all mastered the ‘communicating with confidence trifecta’ - voice, body language and use of language.
The best part? We can do the same. We can all ‘channel the trifecta’ to command a boardroom (or investor preso, pay-rise pitch or ad-hoc office kitchen gathering) by simply taking control of the signals we’re sending.
There are four ways to sound credible – by mastering our pitch, pace, tone and volume.
We often use inflection patterns that detract from our message and its authority. Inflection patterns that rise at the end of statements can make us appear less confident about what we’re saying – as if to seek validation or confirmation from the audience.
Never underestimate the power of pacing yourself – embracing a few seconds of silence means you’re comfortable and in control. Speaking softly, or letting the ends of your sentences trail off, will make you sound tentative and less engaging overall.
Have you ever caught yourself out using language that plays down your capacity in meetings?
‘This isn’t really my area of expertise, but maybe we should consider this option.‘
‘It’s just a random idea, but I was thinking …’Sound familiar?
This is precisely the kind of language we unconsciously use, which undermines our true ability. Don’t disqualify yourself from an opportunity by using self-diminishing qualifiers. Try to avoid saying ‘sorry’ for no reason, or delivering statements as questions. When it’s part of your role, there’s no need to sound tentative about having an opinion.
Does your body language reflect confidence, or are you erring closer to, well, a timid cat?
Do you tilt your head slightly to the side when speaking to your boss? Do you struggle to make eye contact, or twine one leg around the other when facing the CEO?
Are you aware of your somewhat distracting habits that surface when you’re facing pressure (playing with hair ties, clicking your pen, hiding behind your papers)? Body language is a language in itself, which is why we need to be acutely aware of the subtle signals we are sending.
Andrea Clarke is a former Washington D.C News Correspondent, Expert Media Trainer to Top ASX leaders and the Founding Director of CareerCEO, an online program that helps us master eight fundamental ‘soft skills’ in the workplace.