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10 Words People Who Are Not Confident Always Use

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10 Words People Who Are Not Confident Always Use

A famous comedian relates this anecdote about his start in show business. He had a minor role in a biblical stage play with a short speaking part to be delivered as he assisted a high-ranking Roman soldier.

The dialogue was pretty straightforward. The Roman soldier was to ask him, “Is my sword ready?” and he was to answer, “It is.” He rehearsed his two-worded line endlessly. The theater was full on opening night, which made him quite nervous.

Finally, his one shining moment came.

Roman soldier: “Is my sword ready?”

His loud, excited reply: “Is it?”

And that was the end of his stage career.

Words, even when monosyllabic, carry meaning, and the subtlest of adjustments can totally flip the table (or the script). More importantly, words have manifesting power. If you find yourself short on confidence, check to see if these words form part of your regular dialogue.

1. Might

“I might take the college entrance test.”
“I might fail.”
“I might just forget about college.”

Might is an ambivalent word that shows a lack of intention and direction. Using might on your weekly planning, daily to-do lists, or in response to others’ requests could result in tasks left undone. That’s precisely because in your thoughts and speech, you don’t appear to care either way. Eliminate this word from your vocabulary. Go for a YES or NO. If you are not sure about whether or not to do a task, think “maybe” but give it a deadline and convert soon to a YES or NO. It’s not about saying yes all the time; it’s about making a decision either way. You move from not confident to decisive.

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2. Won’t

“It won’t work.”

“I won’t be able to do that.”

Won’t is a defeatist word that assumes failure in a race even before the first step is taken. People who think and say this word often base their negative thinking on a couple of past experiences. When you conclude in your mind that a process, a project, or you will fail, that is exactly what will happen. Open your belief to the real probability of success with, “That could work” or, “Yes, I think I can do that.” As you become more optimistic, good results will start happening to move you from not confident to positive thinker.

3. Usually

“This is usually the way we do it.”

“I usually work better solo.”

Usually is a status quo-type of word that accepts things as they are. Things are just that way, end of story. It’s a word that closes the door to finding newer, better ways of doing things. It’s sometimes used to justify laziness. Instead, think of alternatives, options, and new things. Be willing to think and say “We can try another way” or “I will take a chance working with this team,” and get ready to be surprised by your adaptability and other new discoveries. As new things become usual to you, your experience and expertise grows. And so does your confidence.

4. Suspect

“I suspect there will be a company takeover.”

“I suspect there is a catch to their proposal offer.”

Unlike the previous words, which mostly affects the speaker, suspect brings a shadow of suspicion on another person’s motive and sows intrigue and fear in others. Verbalizing your negative thinking contaminates those around you. It causes low morale and an air of distrust that affects relationships and productivity. Drop suspect altogether from your thoughts and speech. Stop judging, accept news and gestures at face value, and improve your interpersonal skills.

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5. Impossible

“That’s impossible; it has never been done.”

“It’s impossible for me to work with [fill in person, task, or department].”

Impossible combines the defeatism of won’t and the status quo of usually to firmly lock the door to new successes. The danger of impossible is in the passion you use when you say the word, often with a raised voice and a strong hand gesture. The stronger the feeling that is attached to a word, the surer and sooner it will manifest. As you continue to use impossible in your thoughts and words, you will notice less positive things happening in your life. From not confident, you could drop to outright fearful. Throw out impossible from your vocabulary. Shift to “not possible” and then to “could be possible” and finally to “Yes, it can be done!”

6. Worried

“I’m worried about my presentation.”

“I’m worried the client will not be satisfied.”

Worried is the reason people are not confident. Being worried comes from imagining a bad or worst case scenario. Its two components are (1) thinking ahead and (2) fearing a negative outcome. When you find yourself thinking ahead to the day of your presentation or project submission, summon a positive image of a supportive audience and an impressed client. Smile, hear the audience applauding, and feel the firm handshake of your happy client. If you are unable to imagine a positive image, then focus only on the present moment as you complete the project and prepare for the presentation. Pediatricians chat up children to talk about something interesting and then swiftly deliver the shot. They know it’s the fear of the needle—not the actual shot—that makes the process worrisome.

7. Confused

“I’m confused about my team leader’s work expectations.”

“I’m confused if he wants to seriously continue this relationship.”

Sometimes, a confusing situation is to be blamed for the ambivalence of might and the defeatist attitude of won’t. If you don’t know what your work objective is, you won’t be able to take steps to get there. If you don’t know how you stand in a relationship, you won’t know how committed you can be. Among the words people who are not confident use, confused is the simplest to get rid of. Get yourself out of the confusion to a place of clear understanding by speaking to your team leader or your significant other. Ask clear, direct questions. Explain you want to understand their expectations so you can act accordingly, from not confident to sure of yourself.

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8. Need

“I need to buy expensive suits before I go to any job interview.”

“I need to be sure there is no risk of getting turned down before I ask her out.”

Need acts like a stalling tactic and a justification for failing. It’s also a dream stopper. It’s you setting up conditions—which are often unnecessary—for you to succeed. Many people say this common dialogue that applies to any dream.

“I want to write a book but …”

“I need to finish sending all my children to college first.”

“I need to keep working to save up.”

“I need to find time to focus.”

“I need to take some writing courses.”

“I need to gather more writing experience.”

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If they end up not living the dream, they give the above reasons for their so-called failure, which is actually a non-start. It’s better to try and fail, than to fail to try. The experience of engaging in an action or a relationship is far more important than the result. When you are not too attached to the results, you actually don’t need much to start.

9. Quandary

“I’m in quandary about staying with the company or going freelance.”

“It’s a big quandary for me—take the overseas job offer or stay and nurture this promising relationship.”

Being in a quandary, unlike being confused, means you know the consequences of each choice, but you are uncertain of how much impact it will have down the road. You’re unsure if you’re ready to give up one thing for something else. It takes time, research, and lots of contemplation to get out of a quandary. Give yourself time to weigh things, but do not stay in quandary for longer than necessary, so you don’t get stuck. Don’t rush your decision either. When you do arrive at a decision, move forward and don’t look back.

10. Likely

“I will likely meet the deadline.”

“The client will likely disagree with our proposal.”

Likely is very similar to the ambivalent might but has a higher probability of happening, positively or negatively. It still is not certain. Likely comes across as uncommitted and shows a lack of effort or motivation to make it a sure thing. To change likely to a definite YES, find out what it is about the project or the proposal that is giving you doubts and address them one by one. Like might, this is about removing those doubts and making a definite decision, either way. Go from almost confident to assuredly so.

All these words have an air of uncertainty and negativity that feeds on such feelings and creates a cycle of negative beliefs and negative outcomes. End the cycle with naturally gained self confidence. Be clear about what YOU want. You don’t want anything bad happening, so that’s where you start. Visualize a positive experience and outcome and then take steps to produce that. In such a scenario, not-confident will have absolutely NO part.

Featured photo credit: Peter via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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