Over the last few weeks you have probably become tired of watching politicians stumping for a job. Well, it’s over now and we’ll have a short, merciful reprieve before it all starts again. Even though the incessant political posturing wears us out, there is something to learn from it. Whether you agreed with any of the candidates or you didn’t, note that they all speak with an air of confidence. That same air of confidence is important for leaders.
I’m not suggesting you should become a politician, but presenting an air of confidence will make you a more successful leader. Even if you are uncomfortable speaking in a group there are several steps you can take to quickly develop that air of confidence.
- Don’t mumble. Speak clearly and at the appropriate volume. Speaking softly or timidly will make you seem unsure of yourself. That doesn’t mean you should be loud; that’s obnoxious and irritating. Instead, modulate your volume so all intended listeners can hear you clearly.
- Work out. Are you happy with your voice? Probably not. Most people aren’t. What your team hears when you speak is the vibration of air caused by small muscles in your throat: your vocal chords. They are actually the weakest muscles in your body. But they are muscles, so exercise them. Search for vocal exercises to find many exercises to make you vocal chords stronger and increase your vocal ability.
- Determine eye color. Look at the person or people to whom you are speaking and make eye contact. You should not constantly stare in the person’s eyes; that’s creepy, but you should be able to determine the color of their eyes. If you are speaking to a group, scan the room to include everyone, but also stop and make eye contact with individuals.
- Let your body speak. Your mother was right; sit or stand up straight. You don’t look confident if you’re slumped over. If you have notes or are referring to papers or a computer in front of you, don’t just stare at the page or screen and don’t nervously shuffle the papers. Look down when you have to, but only briefly, then look up and reestablish eye contact.
- Admit ignorance, avoid stupidity. Remember that ignorance is simply not knowing. Stupidity is acting on ignorance. It’s okay to admit to not knowing something. If you don’t have the answer, or need more information, say so. Nobody knows everything about everything and your team will appreciate your honesty. This is not the time to get timid though. Speak clearly and ask for the additional information you need. Remember that it’s better to confidently ask for more information than be confidently, and utterly wrong.
Of course it helps if you really are confident. Politicians project confidence because they believe in themselves. You should too.