Ever wondered how some people seem to command attention, have ‘presence’ when they walk into a room, are well respected and are seen as the ‘go-to’ experts in their field?
Next time you see one of these people, I want you to observe how they speak. I’ll bet you my texting thumb that they speak with conviction. They project confidence. They stand tall. They fully believe in what they’re saying.
Put simply, they speak with authority.
Speaking with authority is an incredibly important skill to have if you want to accelerate your career.
Let’s say you’ve taken on a new position, or you’ve been promoted or put in charge of projects, and you’re now being asked to make big decisions.
If you sound like you lack confidence, or you’re unsure of yourself, or that you can’t do your job, it will be very difficult to gain the respect and trust of your colleagues and stakeholders, which will then hold you back from gaining traction in the workplace and excelling further in your career.
The good news is: this is a skill that can be learned. So in this podcast and article, I’m going to share 9 simple ways you can speak with more authority. You can use these techniques in any speaking context, whether you’re speaking to a group, one-on-one, or in a networking situation.
(By the way, if you’re serious about significantly increasing your confidence and effectiveness when having business conversations and networking, I strongly recommend you join my free Small Talk Made Simple email class.)
If you implement and practice these techniques, as a result you’ll:
- Get your colleagues, clients and higher level management to respect you, take you more seriously and listen to your ideas and input
- Come across as an expert and go-to person (even if you feel like you’re not)
- Be able to run meetings smoothly and stay in control
- Feel more confident talking to senior people and important stakeholders
- Be looked up to as a leader
- Build more confidence in yourself and your own abilities
Sound good? Let’s do it!
9 ways to speak with more authority
1. BELIEVE that you good enough to be there
Why are they looking to me for answers?! Who am I to tell them what to do?? I don’t know anything — what if they find out? They won’t like my ideas anyway…
If so, you’ve gotta shift those negative beliefs! When you second guess yourself and doubt your own abilities, it affects the way you speak. Let’s work on that. Do this:
1. Ask 3 trusted colleagues what you do well at work, and WHY it’s important to them. This will give you an indication of the VALUE you provide.For example: I sometimes ask my email subscribers these two questions.
I remember one woman wrote back: “I think you play the ukulele well. And this is important to me because you demonstrate that you can be silly and fun and still be successful as an entrepreneur.” WOW. I was just playing the ukulele for fun…but now I know it has a bigger impact then I initially thought. That’s powerful stuff.
2. Write down WHY you were selected that job/role/project in the first place. Clearly they think you’re good enough to do it, otherwise you wouldn’t be there, right?
2. Decide to CARE LESS about what others think of you
Yep, it’s a decision you can make. Go out there and think to yourself:
‘You know what? I DO have good ideas. I’m good – no – I’m AWESOME at my job. Why would I be in this position if I wasn’t? I get and accept that not everyone will resonate with me, which is fine, because it’s impossible to please everyone. I’m here to kick ass!’
You’ll be surprised at how it affects the way you speak. I believe caring less is the thing that has helped me THE MOST to reduce my nerves and speak confidently when I’m presenting to a group. I decided I didn’t want to waste my precious energy on worrying what people thought. I had to focus on giving a great presentation!
3. Speak from your diaphragm
Many people speak from their throat when they are nervous. This results in their voice sounding squeaky, soft and weak. There is no power behind their voice. They run out of breath, which results in their sentences fading off or sounding like a creaky door.
To speak with authority, it’s critical that everyone in the room can hear you, and that they can hear every single word you say. To do this, take a deep breath into your belly (not your chest), and as you speak and exhale, give the LAST word of your sentence the EXACT SAME amount of breath as your first word.
Try it right now!
4. Learn how to interject with confidence
Scenario: you’re running a meeting or facilitating a workshop or group discussion. There will always be that one person who loves the sound of their own voice, and will take any opportunity to speak. Or a heated debate might break out. The problem is that it takes up valuable time and takes the focus away from the original goal of the meeting.
It’s up to YOU to step in and keep the meeting moving. People WILL keep on talking if you let them. So practice interjecting — and do it like you mean it. You could say: “Hey everything, these are all valuable ideas, thank you so much, but we do need to move on. Ok, next item…”
Nathalie Brewer, who I interviewed in Episode 56, has a great technique for ‘gently’ interrupting. She says: “Can I pause you there?” This technique is fantastic, because you’re insinuating that they will get an opportunity to keep sharing. instead of telling them to “STOP TALKING!”
I understand that interrupting senior or outspoken people can often be nerve wracking. If you’re serious about building your communication skills so you can be confident and calm when speaking to people at work, join my free Small Talk Made Simple class. You’ll be rocking making waves in no times! Click here to join.
5. Eliminate filler words
These include words and phrases like: “I guess”, “I think”, “kind of”, “perhaps”, “umm”, “you know”, “maybe”, “we’re trying to…”, “pretty much” — this type of language makes you sound unsure of yourself.
If you’re not aware of the language you use, record yourself speaking, and listen back to it. Or, ask a trusted colleague to take note of your filler words. Before you can CHANGE, you MUST have awareness of what you currently do.
6. Watch your inflection
Upward inflections run rampant in Australians, which make us sound like we’re asking a question every time we speak: “Hi, my name is Christina? And thanks for coming along today? I’ve got important things to tell you??”
Do you think Martin Luther King Jr would have been as influential if he’d said: “I have a dream? That one day this nation will live up to the true meaning of it’s creed? That all men are created equal?”
Didn’t think so.
Again, the best way to fix your inflection problem is to record yourself and listen back. Once you’re aware, you can focus on ending your sentences with a level or downward inflection. This automatically will work to make you sound more confident, more certain, and more authoritative.
7. Body language tip #1 — stand like a leader
If you want to have presence and be looked up to as a leader, you need to look like one!
Make sure your feet have a solid connection with the ground. Place them shoulder width apart (yes, even the ladies should do this). Feel the weight of your body, through your legs, through to your feet. You may like to practice this at home. Close your eyes and really feel the connection. Pretend you’re a solid, unshakeable tree.
Next, imagine your body as the trunk of the tree. Imagine you’re growing up and up, trying to reach the sky. Feel your neck lengthening and your shoulders pulling back. You may find you grow an inch or two taller!
Take some deep breaths through your tummy and maintain this strength and tallness, while also relaxing. As you hold this position, you may find you begin to even feel more confident and strong.
Now, your challenge is to practice walking around in this position. Take steady, deliberate steps. Look to where you want to walk, and go there without hesitation. All of this takes practice, but the more you do it, the quicker it will become ‘natural’. This is how true leaders move, and there is no reason why you can’t also do the same.
8. Body language tip #2 — use your hands
Did you know that when we look at a person, the first place our eyes flick to is their hands? We don’t realise we’re doing it, but it’s actually an intuitive safety response — we look to people’s hands to see if they’re holding a weapon.
This means, our hands play a really important part in our non verbal communication. Body language expert Alan Pease explains in the video below about how we can command more authority, simply by turning our palms over.
I do this all the time. If I want to appear friendly and approachable, I’ll speak with my palms turned up. But when I need the audience to do something (ie: “I need you all to stand up and speak to the person next to you…”) I flip my palms over to show people that this is an instruction, not a question. And it’s not rude, it’s simply leading with authority.
9. Watch and observe other people
One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to watch and learn from others who do it well. You could watch TED talks or other speeches by great leaders whom you admire. Or maybe observe your boss or company CEO — watch how they talk, what language they use, how they stand, walk, shake people’s hands etc.
Then, start to implement one of these things. Practice it until it becomes second nature, then implement something else. They weren’t born with the skill of presence and authority — they learned it through their experience. And you can do the same!
So there you have it! 9 tips for speaking with more authority at work. Your next step is to now implement ONE thing, and see what impact it makes. Want more? I share more tips and practical exercises on how to be confident when having business conversations in my free Small Talk Made Simple email class. Click here to join!