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7 Language Hacks for More Confidence

7 Language Hacks for More Confidence
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It’s no news that the language we use when we interact with ourselves and others has a massive impact on our confidence. Interaction is so much more than words. It’s the exchanging of emotion, feeling, and thought. It’s the much needed connecting with another human in some shape or form.

Even though you try to avoid those awkward silences, go great lengths to avoid hurting someone, and try not to send a different message than what you intended. The language that you use could end up affecting your confidence.

I’m talking about the I-screwed-up confession with the significant other, that stressful business meeting, the sales conversation with the client you so desperately need, and that stressful talk you have with your boss when you put in your two weeks notice. It’s also about all of the things you say to yourself leading up to, during, and after those interactions.

It’s all more than words.

The thing though? Those interactions don’t have to overwhelm you. You don’t have to spend your time playing conversations out in your head before and after you have them. Because there are 7 ways that you can hack your language, own your interactions, and build real, lasting confidence.

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Say what you mean

We’re all human. But when we have difficult conversations or interactions with others where the stakes are high, it’s easy to forget that. So sometimes we start posturing and putting on a facade. We say things that we think we are ‘supposed to’ or ‘should’ say. The interactions that we replay and worry about mainly revolve around the language that we use. What’s the first thing you should say? What if you say [this] and they do [this]? What if they say [this]? How will they react?

When you’re aware of and honest about what you actually want to say, you won’t have to replay or worry about your language. Because everything that you say will be right. That doesn’t mean your messages will always be received the way that you want, but you won’t regret what you said. I’m not saying be rude and inconsiderate. I’m saying that being authentic and owning your words is respectful to you and the receiver.

Use “I”

Everything you say comes from you. You compose the language. And the message is always coming from somewhere deeper than your mouth. Using “I” shows ownership and responsibility of what you’re saying.

“I love you” vs. “Love you”/<3

Love is powerful, as is the proclamation itself. But as the digital age has grown, we’ve thrown “love” around more without true meaning. It’s grown to be, in many cases, meaningless. Omitting the I separates that feeling from you. It’s almost in-human.

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“I feel [this] about [them]” vs. “[They] are making me feel [this].”

No one can make you feel anything. You cultivate your feelings. Blaming others for what you feel puts yourself in a very helpless, victim-like position. A position that can often be difficult to get out of.

Recognize that you are feeling [whatever] about [that person/thing]. There’s no external controller that’s selecting your response to something.

“I” vs. “you/us/we”

I have used we, us, and you so far in this article. Some things are more personal, some things are more generalized. But in conversation, generalizing incorrectly can take away some of the power of what you’re saying.

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Distinguish between feelings and thoughts

“I feel like” vs. “I think”

These are two different things. Sure, our thoughts can conjure emotions and vice versa. But there is a clear distinction between the two. Make sure you’re using them appropriately.

Feel Thank You + You’re Welcome

It’s common courtesy. Someone holds the door for you, and you exchange these two phrases. It’s nearly automatic. But are you really thankful for that person? Are you allowing yourself to express your genuine desire to do [that thing] for that person when you say, “you’re welcome”? Are you actually grateful?

Be aware of these interactions and allow yourself a moment to feel through your words. Along with saying “I”, this expresses ownership in your language.

Say No and Yes Honestly

Both of these words are without a doubt, two of the most powerful words we can use. And they are the most commonly used words that often stand in the way of saying what we mean. Say yes when you are genuinely accepting or agreeing. Say no when something isn’t what you want or can do. Period.

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Decipher between “can’t” and “don’t want to”

Can’t is very definitive, while want is often more progressive and accurate. “I can’t do it” holds so much more power than “I don’t want to do it.” Can you actually do [that thing] but you don’t want to? Figure it out.

Forget “I don’t know”

It’s the same as “I can’t”.

“I don’t know” is often a phrase we use to get out of digging deeper and explaining something. It can sometimes come out in desperation or when we aren’t willing to engage with something. It’s another phrase that comes along with a victim mentality. It sounds hopeless and lost. It’s an immediate shut down.

It’s what Danielle LaPorte calls the “I don’t know” conspiracy. Make the switch to “I will figure it out,” because you will if you actually try.

It’s not enough to just read and nod. You have to take action on what you’re reading.

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if you want to build more confidence. Do it now. Why wait?

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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