Get Your Message Across with 8 Confidence Builders

June 08, 2023 | 630 Views

Get Your Message Across with 8 Confidence Builders

Patrick Yearout, FMP, CHT

Director of Innovation, Recruiting, and Training | Ivar's & Kidd Valley Restaurants

If you would like to learn more on this topic and continue increasing your confidence when speaking, consider registering for the Orlando CHART Conference this summer and attending Erin King’s session on “Ignite Your Influence” or Ashley Helkenn’s breakout on “Bears and Body Language.” 

When in a training environment, either in front of a classroom or working one-on-one with new employees, hospitality trainers can seem like quite the confident bunch. We’ve usually taught the lessons and answered all the questions dozens (or maybe even hundreds) of times in the past, and the right words in the right tone easily flow out of our mouths.

But sometimes we find ourselves needing to communicate in situations that are not as comfortable for us, such as presenting the department budget for the next year to senior executives, convincing franchisees of the importance of a new training program at a company conference, or serving as an expert on a panel session at an industry event. In these settings, without the years of practice we get with our training routines, our normal amounts of conviction may wane and be replaced with nervousness or fear of judgment (and more perspiration than we would ever really want). Even worse, our voices might get drowned out by louder individuals with contrary opinions, and we leave without accomplishing the goals we set out to achieve.

How can we approach unfamiliar circumstances but still project a level of confidence that will allow us to capture the attention of those listening, convey our authority, and earn their trust? It takes a bit of effort to grow this skill, but below are 8 suggestions you can implement to enhance your speaking abilities and project an assured presence.

  1. Get prepared – One of the key foundations of speaking with confidence is thorough preparation. Whether it's teaching a class, presenting at a meeting, or facilitating a discussion, investing time in research (making sure you are using reputable and confirmed sources), organizing your thoughts, and anticipating potential questions or objections will give you a solid foundation to build upon. The more knowledgeable you are about your subject matter, the more confident you'll feel discussing it. And if you’re not sure where to start your preparation on a particular topic, reach out to your CHART colleagues or post a question on Ask My Peers to find out where others working in the industry have found the right answers.
  1. Slow down – Your voice can be a powerful tool for conveying confidence, but often when we get nervous, the rate at which we speak speeds up and listeners can’t always understand what we are trying to say. To overcome this problem, you should practice speaking slowly, enunciating your words, and varying your pitch and volume to avoid a monotone delivery. If you struggle in this area, there are some great tutorials on YouTube (this video is one of my favorites).
  1. Embrace the pause – Remove unnecessary filler words, such as "um" and "uh," from your speech as they make you seem unsure about what you are saying. When you feel one forming on your lips, just pause instead and allow your audience to absorb the words you want to say. “This project, um, is really going to, uh, make a difference” is a much less convincing sentence than, “This project…is really going to…make a difference.” Try saying the second example out loud, and play around with which words you emphasize, and you’ll hear how much stronger the pauses can make it. 
  1. Be concise – Avoid rambling or going off on tangents; the more you talk, the more opportunities you have to get sidetracked (and the more filler words you will begin to use). Instead, make your key points clearly and concisely and don’t trail off on your sentences. Good: “This training program will increase guest counts by 25%.” Bad: “This training program will increase guest counts by 25%, and that’s something we all want, so there you go….doesn’t that, um, sound great?”
  1. Use positive and assertive language – The words you choose have a significant impact on how others perceive you, so work to eliminate phrases that weaken your message. For example, use "will" instead of "might" and "can" instead of "could," and avoid "maybe," "perhaps," and “possibly.” Oh, and if you are asked your professional opinion on an outcome in a business case scenario, starting your response with “I predict” or “I envision” are much stronger choices than starting with “I think” or “I feel.” Remember, you were placed in this situation because others understood you have the intellect to weigh in, so stop waffling and sounding insecure about what you bring to the table. Adopting an authoritative tone will let them know they made the right decision to include you.
  1. Speak up early – If you wait too long to chime in, you may find that others have made a contrary point to the one you want to make and have led the group so far down the path that your points will not be considered. Don’t let that happen! Speaking up at the start of the conversation will give you the opportunity to get your ideas out there and convince others that your answer is the best option before the conversation has moved on.
  1. Cultivate positive body language – To project confidence with your nonverbal cues and build rapport with your audience, maintain an open and upright posture, avoid fidgeting, and nod while others are speaking. Use hand gestures purposefully to emphasize key points but be mindful of excessive movements that may distract from your message (if this is a challenge for you, consider clasping your hands together).
  1. Practice, practice, practice – The more you practice the items listed above, the more confident you are going to sound when your big moment arises. One of the best methods for doing so is to set up your phone and record yourself delivering your words, and then watch the playback to see how well with do with bullet points #2-#7. You could also volunteer to speak at an upcoming CHART Conference or Regional Training Forum and ask attendees for feedback on your performance, and then use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and gradually build your comfort level. As you accumulate speaking experience, your confidence will naturally grow.

You may read through this list and think I’m telling you to be something that you’re not, but that is honestly not the case. Authenticity is essential to projecting confidence, so I definitely want you to be true to yourself and let your personality shine through. These suggestions are simply to help you avoid distractions that might cause your audience to lose focus and keep your message from being heard.

Building up these skills will take time, so be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress along the way (just like you would with the hotel and restaurant employees you train every day). With persistence and dedication, your valuable ideas and contributions can be shared with the world and open doors to new opportunities and meaningful connections.

If you would like to learn more on this topic and continue increasing your confidence when speaking, consider registering for the Orlando CHART Conference this summer and attending Erin King’s session on “Ignite Your Influence” or Ashley Helkenn’s breakout on “Bears and Body Language.” I predict (see what I did there) that you’ll not only learn valuable lessons from these speakers, but also be afforded the opportunity to connect with other trainers and discuss methods they have used to improve in this area.

Finally, a huge thank you to Donna Herbel and Jason Lyon, who facilitated the Communication & Influence competency session at the Seattle CHART Conference back in March and inspired me to write this blog post. Donna and Jason, I learned so much from you both about speaking confidently during that workshop, especially the section on negotiation skills, and I’m so appreciative of the wisdom you shared!

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