That begins with self-examination.
“The first step is to learn what confidence looks like and then take a courageous look at how you speak,” Alter said. “A video camera is your best tool for recording your normal speech patterns.”
The good news is that you can recognize and fix blind spots that impede job effectiveness. Some common derailers include:
Not keeping a level head. Hold your chin too high and you look aggressive or condescending.
Holding your chin too low and looking submissive or deflated. “Lengthen your spine, stand up straight and keep your head level. You project confidence when you take up more space,” she said.
Using empty words. “Speech fillers like, ‘um’ and ‘you know’ are ubiquitous in our culture, but they distract from your message and extinguish your passion,” Alter said.
Misplaced upward inflection. “Traditionally, sentences that start high and cascade downward in tone sound like statements. You mean what you say,” Alter said. “If you start low and end high, it sounds like a question.”
Excessive movement. “Jiggling your knee, bobbing your head or shifting your weight can weaken your personal power,” she said. “Stillness sends a message that you’re calm and confident.”
Losing eye contact. “When you drop eye contact, you drop out of the game [conversation]. Give your listeners the same respect you want from them — your full attention,” Alter said.
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