If you want to be an influential speaker, you’ve got to earn your audience’s respect. Fortunately, if you present yourself as an authority in your field, that respect will quickly follow. Follow these tips to deliver your message with authority:
- Know your material. While it’s not necessary to memorize your speech, it’s imperative that you understand your subject matter inside and out. Spend time thoroughly researching your topic; discuss it with other experts; read relevant articles and blogs. If you only know your subject on the surface level, you’ll be unable to respond intelligently to questions. Furthermore, if you feel insecure in your understanding, that lack of confidence will be apparent to your audience.
- Adopt a strong posture. Stand tall with your shoulders back. Put one foot in front of the other, and rest your weight on your back foot. Lean your torso forward just slightly. Don’t lean on the lectern, cross your feet at your ankles or stand with your hip jutted out to the side. Those stances all undercut your authority. Crossing your arms in front of you can also make you seem less secure.
- Control your voice. Avoid speaking quickly. Doing so makes it hard for your listeners to understand you, and it can raise the pitch of your voice, making you sound younger and less authoritative. Pause and breathe naturally. Also avoid inflections that could undermine your message, such as raising your intonation at the end of a statement, making it sound more like a question.
- Stick to the point. People in positions of authority don’t generally feel the need to over-explain. Follow their lead. Provide the information your audience needs, but don’t go on and on about every detail. It’s more powerful to get to the point quickly, without a lot of rambling.
- Use confident word choice. Steer clear of language that comes across as uncertain or self-doubting. Examples: “This might be obvious, but …,” “I think …,” “In my opinion …,” “I’m guessing that …,” “It seems to me that …,” “Perhaps,” or “Maybe.” Instead, speak with certainty. You know what you’re saying is correct.
How do you project confidence during a presentation?