Three Fundamentals of Confident Communication
The art of public speaking draws on dozens of different skills, methods and teachings.
From rhetoric to storytelling and improv – there’s so many facets to public speaking that entire books have been written on the subject.
But where should you begin?
If you want to quickly gain confidence and credibility as a speaker, there are some key areas you need to be focused on.
After coaching hundreds of people to overcome anxiety and develop outstanding communication skills, I’ve narrowed it down to three fundamentals: the body, the voice and the mind.
It’s these three areas that we begin with in our courses and coaching; and by focusing on these first, you can quickly take your communication skills from zero-to-hero.
Before people hear your voice, they see your body.
It takes only 7 seconds for people to make a first impression of you. So when speaking in public, it’s crucial we get those first 7 seconds right.
That means being able to consciously display what I call “winners’ body-language”.
Winners’ body-language is the combination of warmth, openness and excitement that humans instinctively show when we’re feeling our best.
Watch an athlete win a race, or a celebrity accept an award, and you’ll see winners’ body-language happening in real time: head up high, arms outstretched, smiling with excitement.
We’ve all experienced feeling these things, and we’re all physically able to display this positive body-language.
The problem is that when we’re faced with a stressful situation like public speaking – we subconsciously start exhibiting the opposite: head down, arms closed, a look of nervous worry.
The trick here is to break this habitual stress response. So that when we’re standing on stage and the nerves kick in, rather than automatically closing in, we instead open up.
This pattern-change takes some training to instil, but can be a real game-changer in allowing people to control their nerves and speak with confidence.
Try to become more aware of your body-language by noticing how a stressful situations make you react. Do you start fidgeting? Looking downwards, or furrowing your brow?
It’s these responses you will need to change in order to look (and feel) more confident.
It takes over 100 muscles for humans to articulate the spoken word. But unlike singers, actors or performers – most people neglect to do ANY warm-ups before they deliver a presentation, or speak in public.
We struggle to breathe into the diaphragm and fail to project our voice – meaning people can’t properly hear us.
The tension in our chest, neck and face restricts our articulation – making us stumble over our words and mumble through sentences.
We become flustered, panicked, and start speaking too quickly – leading to more uhms, ahs, likes and filler-words.
Each of these is what we call a credibility killer.
They make us come across as unprepared, and unprofessional.
The solution is learning to properly warm up your vocal muscles before speaking. The more relaxed and tension-free your voice is before speaking, the more powerful and professional you will sound.
Develop your vocal technique by practicing breathing exercises, muscle warm-ups and tongue-twisters before any speech, pitch or presentation.
A destructive mindset will do more damage to your ability to communicate than anything else.
Yet how many people spend the days and weeks before a presentation ruminating on everything that could go wrong for them?
We waste energy worrying about how we’ll be judged by others:
Will I look confident?
Will I sound assertive?
Will people like me?
In other words… me, me, me!
The best approach overcoming this negative thinking is to completely flip the table. Instead of thinking about what you need from them (recognition, approval, applause), focus all of your attention on what you can give to them.
Understand that no matter what the occasion of your speech, it’s never really about you.
Whether you’re speaking to entertain, to inform, to educate or to influence – it’s ultimately about your audience, not you.
Shifting your mindset in this way allows you to take the pressure off yourself.
By exploring this with people and getting them to fundamentally reframe how they view public speaking, we’re able to dramatically reduce the amount of self-induced stress, worry and anxiety that people feel before a big speech.
Okay, I’m adding a last-minute addition to the three fundamental areas.
Ultimately all of the above only helps when it’s put into practice.
It’s not enough to read about body-language, learn about the voice, or mentally reframe things in your head.
These are tools that must be put to work – tested and trained.
The best piece of advice anyone can give you about improving your public speaking? Do more public speaking.
Or as Aristotle said, “for the things we must learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.
Now that you have a head-start by understanding the three fundamentals of confident communication – the body, the voice and the mind – it’s time to start using them in the field.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to do so, check out our upcoming public speaking courses and training here
Project Charisma deliver online coaching and in-person courses on
confident communication, public speaking & personal development.