How to speak with confidence: 5 best ways to get your message across

How to speak with confidence
Source: AFP

Figuring out how to speak with confidence can be tricky, especially in front of people you don’t know very well.

While you can let your inner self come out in front of close family and friends, it is hard to mimic that same confidence in front of strangers. 

But perhaps that’s because many of us don’t truly know what confidence is in the first place.

People often perceive it as something people have naturally, but that is not always the case. 

We often look to public figures when looking at how to speak with confidence, as they seem to do it effortlessly.

Yet, they could’ve just been faking it.

Ever heard the phrase “fake it till you make it”? For some, imitating confidence can help build actual competency. Still, there is a fine line between boosting your self-confidence and fraud. 

Take Anna Delvey, the woman who posed as a German heiress and defrauded countless victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars (There’s even a Netflix special about her crimes). 

how to speak with confidence

How to speak with confidence? Look at how Malala Yousafzai expresses herself with confidence and conviction. Source: AFP

Don’t worry, there are other less infamous public figures you can look up to mimic their confidence. 

People like Jane Goodall and Malala Yousafzai have used their voices to advocate for what they believe in. 

For instance, Yousafzai famously said, “So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”

Even at 16, she was able to express herself confidently. The key takeaway here is having conviction in what you want to say. 

However, if you are more concerned  about speaking confidently in everyday settings, consider comedians and how they can command a room. 

Check out comedian Trevor Noah, who was recently awarded the 2023 Erasmus Prize

In his acceptance speech, he says, “Whether you’re from Amsterdam or Johannesburg, we all journey through life’s complexities together.”

He adds that laughter breaks barriers and serves as a reminder that light exists even in the darkest moments.

This is a good reminder that speaking is just one of the ways we connect with other human beings and how we make real bonds of friendship and camaraderie.

So to speak confidently, be yourself. You are presenting the essence of who you are with each communication, which is wonderful. 

Each generation does this differently. Boomers speak with pride of yesteryear, generation X is more reserved, and millennials use comedy to mask insecurities. 

The generation with the most confidence is the current budding adults: generation Z. 


@argenby Rizz😎 @ayazkyz ♬ оригинальный звук – argenby

Have you got the rizz?

Oxford University Press, the world’s second-oldest academic press and the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, has announced its word of the year

Rizz, a Gen-Z shorthand for charisma, refers to a person’s style, charm and attractiveness. 

Often used as a verb, this term was chosen over popular terms such as situationship, de-influencing and Swiftie.

While on social media, the word is used in a joking and jovial way, there is an assumption of confidence in someone who has got rizz, especially when they communicate. 

Gen Z (and Generation Alpha) place importance on having rizz, emphasising how they value the ability to express themselves well. 

They are leaders when figuring out how to speak with confidence, and that is something everyone can learn from. 

How to speak with confidence? Take a page from the Gen-Z playbook. If that doesn’t help, we have a few more useful tips.

How to speak in confidence: 5 best ways to get your message across

1. Take your time to articulate

We get it: speaking in front of an audience can be daunting, terrifying, and nerve-racking — especially if it’s your first time.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and slow down — it’s the first step to learn how to speak with confidence.

Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like TED, claims 190 words per minute is the ideal rate of speech for public speaking. 

At this speed, your audience will feel less like you’re talking to them and more like you’re having a conversation over lunch — speak too slowly and you run the risk of putting your audience to sleep; speak too fast and it sounds like you’re nervous.

That’s why 190 words per minute is the sweet spot you should aim for.

Beyond this, the body language that accompanies your message is just as important as the words coming out of your mouth. 

Audiences perceive speakers to have more positive traits, such as warmth and energy, when they use a variety of gestures.

While some physical gestures — like fiddling with your clothing or touching your hair — can distract or convey a lack of confidence, using your hands when you speak is not only a great way to communicate your excitement and knowledge about the topic, but also a good tool to control the pace of your speech. 

How to speak with confidence

JK Simmons played the role of Terence Fletcher in the movie “Whiplash.” Source: AFP

2. Practice

“Are you rushing or are you dragging?”

This quote is lifted from an extremely tense scene in the movie, “Whiplash.” The fanatical perfectionist teacher, Terence Fletcher, has the band play the jazz song “Whiplash” — giving new drummer Andrew Neiman a shot at showing his stuff.

Initially, Fletcher stops Neiman a few times — letting him know that he doesn’t quite have the right tempo. After a few times, he seemed satisfied and walked to the other side of the room without stopping the band.

But then, out of nowhere, Fletcher hurls a chair at Neiman — who ducks just in time.

When the fanatical perfectionist teacher approaches the new drummer with the same question, Neiman struggles to answer. 

Like Neiman, you may struggle to know the difference between rushing and dragging with your speech — and the neat trick about engaging in a difficult conversation, such as making the case to your boss for a raise or a scheduled talk in front of an audience, is to practise what you’ll say beforehand. 

Public-speaking expert Dale Carnegie recommends using a real or stand-in microphone if you’ll be using one during the actual event.

Recording yourself is also a good way to figure out if you’re using the best pacing and pauses. It also allows you to evaluate your voice for clarity and volume.

how to speak with confidence

Notice how standup comedians never flutter when they speak? That comes from years of practice which helps them learn how to speak with confidence. Source: AFP

3. Be confident when you speak

Be direct and confident when you speak.

For example, people ask questions when they’re missing information or want approval for an idea or decision. 

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with either of those situations, both can make you sound vulnerable. 

To project your ideas with confidence, don’t let your voice creep upward at the end of a sentence. 

Maintain an even tone of voice and finish your statements with periods, not question marks.

Likewise, do you ever begin your sentences with, “This is just my opinion,” “Sorry,” “I’m still working on this,” “Well,” “I mean,” or any number of other negative or useless prefaces? 

Most people do as a matter of habit or nervousness, but caveats and fillers can damage the confident tone you’re trying to strike. 

Instead, say what you mean and nothing else. For example, “We should take this pitch in a different direction,” is much more persuasive than, “Well, I think we should take this pitch in a different direction, but I’m still trying to find out the best route to take.”

How to speak with confidence

How to speak with confidence? Smile. Source: AFP

4. Insert smiles in your speech

Dr. Ramiro Zuniga explains the link between gratitude and confidence: “When a leader shows gratitude, it helps create a positive atmosphere. The display of gratitude conveys the message that all is well and moving in a forward direction.” 

Thus, thanking coworkers and direct reports for their contributions and achievements is another way to say the company is thriving and on track to do even better in the future. 

It’s the same with your audience. Start the conversation with a little gratitude, even a “Thanks for coming,” and you’ll convey confidence from the start.

That’s where the power of the smile comes in.

Christine Clapp, a public-speaking expert at George Washington University, explains the benefits of smiling for both the speaker and the audience: “Smiling not only makes your voice more pleasant to listen to, it also conveys confidence … You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.” 

It’s enough reason to grin the next time you give an important talk.

How to speak with confidence

Sometimes, less is more. Source: Shutterstock

5. Embrace the silence 

Many speakers are afraid of pausing. They see it as a moment of nothing, of emptiness. 

Yet, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Pausing helps to convey the message more effectively and is a key strategy in how you speak with confidence.

It’s why many speakers or comedians use well-timed cues to pause — that moment of silence allows them to collect their thoughts and your audience can follow what you’re saying.

What’s more, professional speech coach Gary Genard points out that audiences need strategic pauses in order to retain and understand important points. 

Plus, the moment of silence is also a good chance for you to be hydrated.

While you may not need to hit any octaves during your next conference call, studies show the positive effects of hydration on vocal cords — it keeps them moisturised and enhances the sound of your voice. 

The best way to stay hydrated is to stay ahead of the curve — by the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late. Drink water regularly throughout the day for the best results.