How To Speak Confidently in 6 Steps (Plus Tips and Importance)

Updated December 5, 2022

Regardless of your profession and job duties, it's important to understand how to speak in a confident and effective manner. Your ability to be confident when speaking can help you excel in your job role and future career.

By taking the time to research tips that help you speak with confidence, you can start practicing and improving your speaking skills at work. In this article, we define speaking skills, review why they're important, provide tips for improving your speaking skills and discuss how to become more confident when speaking.

What are speaking skills?

Speaking skills are those that help people interact with one another and convey messages. In a professional setting, individuals use speaking skills when giving presentations, meeting with clients, collaborating with coworkers or when asking questions to superiors. Here are some examples of speaking skills:

  • Interpersonal communication: Interpersonal communication is the ability for someone to adjust the language they use, depending on who they speak with. For example, you speak with your direct superior differently than you would with a client or coworker.

  • Active listening: Active listening is the process by which individuals use nonverbal signals like eye contact, head nodding, body positioning, note taking and smiling to convey their interest in the speaker. Small verbal gestures also contribute to good active listening. Active listening is important, as you may need to answer questions after giving presentations. It also keeps the other person engaged in the conversation when you convey your attention.

  • Persuasiveness: Persuasiveness is a skill where individuals motivate other people to partake in an idea or project through the use of language.

  • Vocabulary proficiency: Vocabulary proficiency is an important speaking skill as the words you use affect your audience's understanding, and your professional credibility.

Related: Effective Language Skills in the Workplace

Why are speaking skills important?

Having excellent speaking skills is important for several reasons. Here are some examples of how you you can benefit from being able to speak effectively in a professional environment:

  • Enhances your employability during job interviews: When applying for jobs, having excellent speaking skills can help you portray yourself as a qualified and well-spoken candidate. Your ability to articulate your ideas and discuss your employable qualities helps employers visualize you at their company. It also helps them determine whether you could lead presentations or engage with customers.

  • Increases your chances of obtaining internal promotions: By demonstrating good speaking skills at your current workplace, you show your employer that you have the ability to communicate ideas and lead presentations. This could help you when applying for more leadership roles, or it could help you obtain more senior responsibilities in your current role.

  • Inspires change and influences business decisions: As a professional, your ability to speak effectively through clear communication and persuasive language can influence your success at work. This is because you know how to use speech to convey ideas to others and encourage them to see the potential benefits of your ideas.

  • Helps you foster positive workplace relationships: Speaking skills are also important as they help you carry conversations with your coworker. By doing this, you can establish meaningful connections with them that enhance teamwork activities and workplace culture.

  • Prevents miscommunication through clarity and language: Understanding how to speak effectively helps you phrase questions and answers in a way that's easy to comprehend. This further ensures that you and your coworkers maintain a productive workflow.

Related: How to Overcome a Fear of Public Speaking

How to speak with confidence

You need to be able to speak confidently whether you're trying to convince a client to renew their contract, persuading a superior to support your idea or giving a work presentation. Review these steps to determine how to become more confident when speaking:

1. Embrace your weaknesses

If you want to become more confident speaking in front of groups or voicing your ideas, you first need to embrace your weaknesses. This means being okay with making mistakes and learning from them. By doing this, you can ease your concerns and slowly improve your confidence when speaking in the workplace.

2. Give yourself time to prepare what to say

Whether you have to give a presentation, or you want to present an idea to a superior, giving yourself adequate time to practice and think about your message can help you gain more confidence. To do this, write your ideas, create an outline and rehearse your presentation a few different times.

Related: How to Prepare for Public Speaking and Different Types of Events

3. Maintain eye contact

Maintaining eye contact with your audience can help convey your confidence, even if you're nervous. When speaking in front of large groups at meetings or events, make eye contact with a few different people to show your focus on the entire audience. You can also focus on the wall directly behind your audience to help you concentrate. When speaking with one person, balance eye contact with short breaks.

4. Limit the amount of questions you ask

When presenting an idea or delivering a presentation, you can convey confidence by refraining from turning definitive statements into questions. For example, saying, “We could switch up distribution channels, maybe?” comes across as indecisive. Instead say, “We should switch up our distribution channels to lower wholesale related expenses."

5. Allow the other person to initiate the conversation in silent moments

During conversations, you may feel the need to speak during silent moments. However, this can cause you to say something unrelated to your original message or idea. Therefore, you need to practice being okay with silent moments after you speak. This also causes your audience to contribute to the conversation.

6. Be yourself

Allowing your personality to show is an important part of being confident when you speak. It also helps conversations flow naturally, and it can help your audience connect with you as you give presentations.

Related: 7 Tips for Public Speaking That Can Expand Your Skill Set

Tips for improving speaking skills

There are a variety of ways you can improve your speaking skills in the workplace. Review these tips to help improve your speaking skills:

Set small goals in the beginning

Developing excellent speaking skills requires time, just like good habits. Starting by setting tangible goals helps you stay motivated and allows you to create a strong foundation for your skill development. Examples of small goals include maintaining eye contact during one conversation each day or asking a coworker if they need further clarification about something you said.

Expand your vocabulary

Using the right vocabulary words affects the way an audience interprets the meaning of your message and whether they agree with it. Therefore, it's important that you think about the words you use when giving presentations, speaking with clients or offering business ideas. Research effective business vocabulary words and try to incorporate them into your speech to see how your audience reacts to them. Some examples of business vocabulary words include prioritize, streamline, profit, distribute or implement.

Read more: 7 Steps To Expand Your English Vocabulary (With Tips)

Ask for feedback

Feedback is an effective way to identify what areas you need to improve in, with your speaking skills. For example, after you give a presentation during a meeting, email your direct superior and ask if they have any constructive feedback to offer. You can also ask your coworkers. This helps you determine one or more ways to improve your speaking for the next presentation.

Volunteer to lead presentations at meetings

The best way to improve your speaking skills is through practice. Therefore, take advantage of public speaking opportunities to gain more confidence and speaking strategies. You can do this by speaking directly with your supervisor or manager so they understand your goals.

Take pauses if you aren't sure what to say

Whether you're giving a presentation or having a one-on-one conversation, you need to make sure that you gather your thoughts so you can deliver a clear message. If you forget what you want to say, be honest with your audience and use a phrase like, "Let me think about how to phrase this better," or "Let me think of an example." This gives you time to think and shows your desire to deliver a clear and concise message.

Enroll in a communication course online

There are a variety of online courses that help professionals develop public speaking skills and learn how to communicate effectively in a business setting. You can complete these courses at your own pace and earn communication certification to enhance your resume.

Practice holding conversations with people throughout the day

Practice is a key part of developing excellent speaking skills. By initiating conversations, you can gain confidence and develop better methods for speaking with others. This could include practicing your active listening skills, or use of vocabulary words.

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