Human dialogue, in my humble opinion, has taken a turn for the worse.
Your message is important, and how you deliver your message is equally important. If it’s not received, your message is lost. You don’t want that. We have to take responsibility for what we say…and how we say it.
For example, do you have any idea how you end your sentences? Do you end your sentences with a period—or a question mark? Do you speak in lists?
Speaking in question marks makes the words spoken less impactful, less effective. It’s as though you’re asking for your audience’s agreement, approval or encouragement! At the very least, you’re asking them to confirm they understand. While it’s tempting to use this technique to keep listeners engaged it only serves to demonstrate that you’re not fully confident in your message.
“So, I was working on this project?” (Posed as a question rather than a statement, you’re really fishing for feedback, for affirmation: “Yes? You understand?”)
“And I was hoping for more support from my team?” (“Right? Have you been there?”)
By seeking to keep listeners engaged in this way, you sacrifice your message and your power. It puts the burden on your audience to keep showing you they’re following you. Your message—and how you deliver it—should leave no doubt about your confidence in the message.
There are better techniques for keeping them riveted, on the edge of their seats.
Speaking with a period at the end of your sentences makes what you say a statement, not a question. Statements cause the listener to pay more attention to your words and perspective. It gives the speaker a sense of empowerment, while taking responsibility and ownership of the words they speak.
Start to listen to people speak: on television, in person (with a mask on), on the phone, wherever people are talking. Watch for when someone makes a statement but frames it as a question. The message is deflated and de-energized.
Here is another pervasive habit that people use that does not communicate confidence: SPEAKING IN LISTS. Think of this as speaking only with commas, no periods.
What would happen if I got up in front of a group of people who had come to hear about my business and said…“Hello, I’m Laurie Burton, and I’m so happy to be here with you today, My business, Communicate Confidence will offer you the opportunity to come face to face with who you are, and how you come across.”?
You’ve all heard this and we’ve all done it. Not quite speaking in questions, speaking in lists makes everything the same. It sounds like this, with a little up-speak (like a little question mark) after each piece. You can picture the speaker counting off on their fingers each of the points they’re trying to make:
(1) “Hello, I’m Laurie Burton, (2) I’m so happy to be with you today, (3) and I’m here to help you communicate confidence, (4) whether you’re making a speech or a presentation, (5) or trying to make a sale, (6) you can make a big difference in how people perceive you, (7) and how they get on board.
Finally, a period! The paragraph above is written as one sentence while it’s really several separate thoughts and ideas. “Listing” them only disempowers each item on the “list.”
You are already showing the audience that your words don’t matter, so why should they want to hear more?
It should be spoken as follows: “Hello! (period, short pause, good eye contact) I’m Laurie Burton. (period and short pause, good eye contact).
This is a very important moment. It says who you are and you must own that moment. You own it by letting people see you, by filling the room with your presence. Giving a warm smile you make eye contact with your audience and say “I am so happy to be with you today.” (period, pause.) Calling upon your passion for life you say energetically, “My company is Communicate Confidence!” (period) Now, with warmth and strength, and animation, you say, “Our programs offer you the opportunity to come face to face with who you are and how you come across.”
The problem often arises when you are not comfortable with being seen. They’re all looking at you, probably making judgments and decisions about you, and it’s uncomfortable. So, you tend to rush through your name and the rest of your intro and slide right into your content. When people are run by fear and uncertainty and have to speak, they do it as quickly as possible, first, to get it over with and, second, to fill any uncomfortable silence. Consequently, the audience is robbed of a real chance to get to know you and what you have to offer.
And, guess what? It all circles back to how reluctant people are to face their fears. I’m asking you to come to terms with the value of your message and, when you deliver it, to communicate confidence.