How to SPEAK UP with Confidence 7 TIPS

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We’re going to look at seven tips that will teach you how to speak up with confidence. And we’ll not be using one of these things. We’re going to teach you how to do it in a group setting because that’s usually where people struggle.

So let’s get into it. (upbeat music) Before we get into these tips, be sure to look at some of the free resources in the description below the video, including a PDF download about the five essential communication skills that all professionals should have.

As we look at these tips, you’ll probably notice that these are the exact behaviors that people who already speak up confidently do. In other words, this is what confident people sound like and look like when they speak up.

So let’s learn from them and develop our own skills. Here are seven do’s and don’ts. Don’t sit back in your chair or lean away from the table. You want to literally lean in. When you are pushed back or leaned back in your chair, it’s more difficult for others to see you and make eye contact with you.

Now, I will admit that this sometimes feels more relaxing and makes it seem like the world is at my command but it doesn’t come across that way to others. When you are sat back from the table, you’ll look like you are voluntarily casting yourself in a minor role.

You might be taking up more space but you’re taking up space away from the action. Instead, you want to push in your chair so your body is up against the edge of the table and even lean forward a little bit.

This puts you non-verbally in the mix. This sends the signal to yourself and to others that you are in the game as an active participant. It puts you in a great nonverbal position and posture to speak up even if you haven’t said anything yet.

Number two, don’t ask for permission to speak. Assume they expect you to speak. I’ve heard many people over the years say things like, “Can I say something?” Or, “Is it okay if I ask a question?” So asking for permission like this implies that you are a lower status person compared to the others.

And that’s a question that brand new employees sometimes ask. You don’t wanna sound brand new. Also asking for permission is another way of communicating that you don’t think you have the right to speak.

And that can undermine what you say and can hurt your credibility. If you are attending a meeting, assume you already have permission to speak and that everybody wants and even expects you to speak. The truth is if you’re not speaking up, at every meeting people will begin to wonder what kind of value you are adding.

So don’t ask for permission, it sends the wrong message. Number three, in the same way, don’t wait for an invitation. Just wait for a short pause. So don’t wait for someone to say, “Sarah, what do you think?” So I’ve been in hundreds, maybe thousands of meetings and I can count the number of times I was directly asked for my specific opinion on one hand.

Now, if somebody looks in your direction in the discussion, that’s about as close as you’ll get an invitation most of the time but don’t wait for that. The expectation in almost all professional settings is that if you have something to say, you will say it.

But if you’re not waiting for an invitation, then when should you jump in? Well, the way confident people speak up is on the pause. As you’re getting ready to speak, you can usually hear that a pause is coming.

That somebody is winding down what they’re saying. And what confident people do is when they hear that somebody’s talking turn is winding down, they ramp up and begin to speak in that micro-moment, just as the first person is finishing.

So a big part of this is timing. Anticipate somebody is about ready to finish, get ready and start talking as soon as they pause. And number four, don’t assume that other people know you wanna speak. Clearly signal that you’re about to talk.

So people don’t typically look around the room and see if anyone else wants to talk before they jump in. You have to send the right signals. So here’s how to do it. As the person before you is finishing their talking turn, send these three clear nonverbal signals.

First lean forward, second, inhale audibly through your mouth, and third, lift your finger. And I mean this finger, not the one next to it. So if you have done these three non-verbal behaviors at the same time, most people will recognize that you are about to speak and they will look at you and they’ll wait.

I’ve done this many times just as an experiment and you can practice it with me right now. (deep breathing) And almost every time, people around you will stop and they’ll look at you. And sometimes somebody will speak before I do in a situation like that.

What I’ll do in that situation is I’ll remain leaned in and make eye contact, maybe even keep my finger up subtly until they acknowledge me. And then I’ll get to speak next. So usually what they’ll say is one of two things.

Sometimes they’ll say, “Oh, sorry Alex, go ahead.” Or they’ll say, “Sorry Alex, just let me finish this point.” And as long as I remain leaned in and I’m making eye contact with the person speaking, I don’t think I’ve ever been denied the opportunity to speak next.

Number five, when you speak, don’t get long-winded or cluttered. Make your point clearly and concisely. Boil down your statement to its essence and just say that. So you get in, you get out, don’t use fillers or qualifiers.

Don’t apologize. Just say what you have to say. Clear and concise sounds confident. If you boil it down to just a couple of sentences, you are more likely to hit your target. So if you tend to ramble, you may want to jot down some keywords right before you speak or practice it once or twice in your head.

Number six, when you speak, don’t be dramatic. Stay composed. Don’t burst in other words. Sometimes we finally speak up, it can feel like a big deal because we’ve been bottling something up for a while.

But stay cool, don’t explode. If you are the type of person who tends to bottle it up and then burst, that means you waited too long to speak. So speak up earlier in the meeting before you feel your emotions getting pressurized.

Number seven, don’t send weak nonverbal cues. Show confidence. So here’s the way confident communicators look. I was recently looking at some research that showed that high-status people tend to make direct eye contact with everybody at a meeting, especially eye contact with other high-status individuals.

Low-status individuals tend to avoid eye contact, especially with high-status people. So if you want to signal that you have high status, look directly at the leaders in the room when you speak. Next, after you speak, keep your eyes up and listen attentively to whoever speaks next.

One common mistake that people make is to say something and then look immediately down at their notes or at a computer. But this can make you look defeated, not confident. Confident people look up when they talk, and they continue to look up and make eye contact when the next person starts talking.

So keep your eyes open and go 100% back to active listening mode. So this moment right after you speak is critical, because this is what we’ll leave that last impression. So let’s step back and talk about the big picture.

If you follow these seven tips, you’ll look and sound more confident when you speak up. However, a little note here. It may not immediately feel confident on the inside. People frequently look and sound more confident to others long before they feel that self-assurance inside.

Question of the Day: Which of these tips do you find most helpful? And feel free to add your own tips and comments in that section below the video. I look forward to reading them. As mentioned, I have some free resources like a PDF download on the five essential communication skills that all professionals should have, as well as some other resources.

I will put links to all of that in the description below this video. Until next time, thanks, God bless and I will see you soon.

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