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Conversational Confidence

The Blarney Stone is a historical stone, or actually part of the Blarney Castle in Ireland where it was believed that kissing the stone can grant you the gift of gab. Right now, everyone who knows me is suddenly thinking this all makes perfect sense.

There is so much more involved in conversation that anyone, even I, could ever condense into one little blog post.  I’ll give you my top 10 here, but if you want to truly master the art of conversation, start watching talk shows; radio programs; clubs dedicated to public speaking; ordinary conversations; you’ll see certain rules still apply when it comes to interaction through words. It may sound tedious, I know, but even though it’s your mouth that’s doing the work, your brain works twice as hard to churn out a lot of things you know. So to start learning to be an effective communicator you need to get to know the very person closest to you: yourself.

1. What you know.
Education is all about learning the basics, but to be an effective speaker is to practice what you’ve learned. My stint as guest speaker at networking meetings taught me that we all have our limitations, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to keep up and share what we know.

2. Listening.
It’s just as important as asking questions. Sometimes listening to the sound of our own voice can teach us to be a little bit confident with ourselves and to say the things we believe in with conviction.

3. Humility
We all make mistakes, and sometimes we tend to slur our words, stutter, and probably mispronounce certain words even though we know what it means, but rarely use it only to impress listeners. I’ve been teaching my 5 year old 4 sylabal words since he could talk. So in a group, don’t be afraid to ask if you’re saying the right word properly and if they’re unsure about it then make a joke out of it. I promise you it’ll make everyone laugh and you can get away with it as well.

4. Eye Contact
There’s a lot to say when it comes to directing your attention to your audience with an eye-catching gaze. It’s important that you keep your focus when talking to a large group in a meeting or a gathering, even though he or she may be gorgeous.

5. Kidding around
A little bit of humor can do wonders to lift the tension, or worse boredom when making your speech. That way, you’ll get the attention of the majority of the crowd and they’ll feel that you’re just as approachable, and as human to those who listen.  Approachability directly translates into sales, so no matter how bad you think you tell a joke, work on making others comfortable.

6. Standing out from the crowd
Interaction is all about mingling with other people. But you need to be memorable. I find the easiest way for me to be memorable is to give them something, a compliment, an idea, a genuine conversation.  When I make them feel good, they remember me.

7. Me, Myself, and I
Admit it, there are times you sing to yourself in the shower. I know I do! Listening to the sound of your own voice while you practice your speech in front of a mirror can help correct the stress areas of your pitch. And you can improve the timing of any untidy sentences that tend to trip up your tounge. Thankfully rubber ducky won’t hold it against you.

8. With a smile
A smile says it all much like eye contact. There’s no point on grimacing or frowning in a meeting or a gathering, unless it’s a wake. You can better express what you’re saying when you smile. Think of it as an open invitation to talk to you.

9. A Role Model
Think of a speaker that you admire. How do they deliver their lines? What kinds of stories to they tell? How do they move across the stage or work the room? Making a mental note of how they emphasize what they say can help you once you take center stage.

10. Preparation
Make the best out of preparation rather than just scribbling notes in a hurried panic. Some people like to write things down on index cards, while other resort to being a little more silly as they look at their notes written on the palm of their hand (not for clammy hands, please). Just be comfortable with what you know and enjoy your work.

These are simple tips.  For more powerful speaker training, I highly recommend Patricia Fripp’s Speaking Workshop.

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Adryenn Ashley

Mediagenic producer transforming the way you watch #SocialTV into a fully interactive immersive experience.

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19 Comments

  1. Profile photo of jackiewbu
    April 8, 2016

    Many people believe that you need years of therapy or medicine to overcome anxiety. This is true for many with social anxiety. Although for me, many of these tips are very helpful! I’ve seen an improvement in my socializing already. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Profile photo of Wameyo
    November 23, 2014

    …even though he or she may be gorgeous. Nice one. I liked the whole article thanks to the little bits of humor thrown in here and there. I guess humor works everywhere;both in writing and speaking. It helps break the tension and makes the whole conversation/article interesting.

    Reply
  3. Profile photo of diane
    November 2, 2014

    i have used many of your tips and they have never let me down in the past, thank you for the post!

    Reply
  4. Profile photo of Mara
    November 1, 2014

    This is really helpful. I mean, I have terrible social anxiety, and I can never make eye contact with anyone. It’s really hard for me and I struggle a whole lot with this. I can never get a job because of how timid i’am, so I make my living on the Internet. It’s really bad. The only time that I was able to get up and do public speaking was back in high school in speech class. It was a requirement so I had to do it or I wouldn’t have graduated.

    I remember giving 5 speeches the whole symester. I remember giving one specific speech that made me break down and cried in front of the whole class. It was embarrassing, but I felt a whole lot better afterwards. I couldn’t take another class. It was necessary. So I did it, and i did great each time, but it’s not something that I would volunteer to so. Even though i have stage fright, speech class taught me that fear is only in your head. It’s not real. Before you go up on stage, you can be thinking about all the different ways that you will fail at what you are going to do, but at the end of the day, you realize that…it wasn’t so bad. You realize that it didnt turn out as bad as you thought it would. That fear was all an illusion. When I really have to do something, no matter how scared or nervous i’am, I just do it. I have tried this at job interviews, but no luck yet.

    Reply
  5. Profile photo of Rhoda D'Ettore
    October 31, 2014

    I do agree with Ariana about some not taking the smiling seriously. Also, there is a difference between constant smiling, and smiling to convey likability.

    From my own experience, I do try to interject humor as that is something that will grab people’s attention. I think doing a lot of research to feel confident about the subject is a huge factor. When I know that I am the most knowledgeable person in the room, I feel much better.

    One thing as a listener that I have noticed with bad speakers is that they do not exude a passion for the subject. If the speaker does not care about the subject, there is no way to get the listeners to care either.

    Reply
  6. Profile photo of latoya
    October 29, 2014

    I must say I agree with the majority of this article, Especially if you are a woman in the workforce. You have to present yourself in certain for people to take you seriously.

    Reply
  7. Profile photo of McKenzie
    October 28, 2014

    These are some pretty good tips but I always feel like you should add a couple things out of the ordinary – most of these are common sense, but maybe this article isn’t meant for me.

    Reply
  8. Profile photo of Xandra Breban
    October 27, 2014

    I say just be you, talk about what you love, when one talks about what they love there is no need to worry about your speech. I talk only when I have something meaningful to say, I cannot just babble. Words are very important and we should be more aware of what we say. I do not worry if people think I am slow, I am just thinking of the right words to say that is why there may be a delay in my speech, otherwise everything is peachy. Like the song says, “Don’t Worry Be Happy”.

    Reply
  9. Profile photo of Pamela
    October 27, 2014

    With me, it all started in high school. I took an etiquette class and that’s when I learned the best methods of speaking and acting professional. We took what we learned and applied it to multiple internships. I now apply everything I learned to job interviews, public speaking, class speeches, etc. As far as talk shows go, I always find it to be so awkward no matter how comfortable they try to seem. They have a limit set time to answer questions before commercials, sometimes the questions are awkward and they always do the fake awkward laughs. Even with my confidence I would still blush on national television! lol

    Reply
  10. Profile photo of Kim
    October 25, 2014

    Public speaking classes have always been the worst experiences of my education. My first time one really damaged my self esteem quite a bit and my second did the same. One of my teachers video recorded out speeches and made us watch the video at home and write an evaluation. I almost self harmed for the first time after watching the video because I suddenly felt like the ugliest person on the planet and like my voice was as gross as nails on a chalk board.

    I really wish this whole subject was handled much differently in the school system. If they would get the focus of you, and more on the information you are sharing, I think people would be able to relax more and actually do better and never, ever make someone watch themselves on a video. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

    Reply
  11. Profile photo of Vet
    October 25, 2014

    Great tips! Among the tips, I highly subscribe to item 2: Listening. While listening to your own voice helps build confidence, listening to your audience is equally important to build conversational confidence. Back when I was still attending school, I often keep to myself saying that I’m too scared to contribute to group discussions or any activity requiring me to speak. A good tip that helped me was to LISTEN WELL. It’s when you listen well to what another person has to say, you are able to follow the train of conversation, and with that you are able to put in your own inputs. It’s when you lose the train of conversation, that you are unable to speak confidently because by then you will be second-guessing if you are saying the right thing, especially that you didn’t catch what the others were saying (with your poor listening!)

    Reply
  12. Profile photo of Deja
    October 23, 2014

    I think that I have most of this down, but my conversational skills can always use a little work. The two biggest problems I have that are on the list above would probably be eye contact and maybe a role model. For some reason, it’s hard for me to look into the eyes of some people and talk to them, so I tend to look everywhere on a person but in their eyes. And I don’t have a role model, not really. There isn’t really anyone that I look up to (well maybe one of my friends, but I see her as more of an example of how responsible and capable I want to be).

    Reply
  13. Profile photo of Cristian
    October 23, 2014

    As Ariana said, it is important to not something about the “smiling” point. Sometimes, if you are too kind with people they shall take you as a fool and try to “steal” you if they have the opportunity. You should always maintain a good balance between being a nice person and a severe one.

    Reply
  14. Profile photo of Amy
    October 23, 2014

    I agree. “Just smiling” isn’t really effective. You have to FEEL the smile I think..like it has to be genuine. That way you aren’t just another creepy speaker with the perma-fake smile glued to their face. It makes you a lot more approachable when your smile is warm and real.

    Reply
  15. Profile photo of Lisa
    October 22, 2014

    I try the “kidding around” aspect quite often. I feel that sometimes everyone can become too focused and it can make for an awkward environment. I try to lighten everyones moods whenever I can. It makes the conversation flow much easier.

    I’ve worked on eye contact in the past, and I am still working on it at this point in time. I sometimes feel too self-aware when I force myself to make eye contact with those I am speaking with. I’ll have to try and see if I can work these other tips into how I communicate.

    Reply
  16. Profile photo of Ruby
    October 21, 2014

    I would say a smile should be given before speaking, and again afterwards, but smiling and speaking at the same time is not such a good idea..

    I’m not afraid of speaking in public when I have something prepared and rehearsed, but I can’t just stand up and speak without knowing what I’m going to say. It’s only partially to do with confidence, because when I know what to say I can speak with confidence, but I’m just not a natural speaker.

    Reply
  17. Profile photo of Genevia Cameron
    October 21, 2014

    I absolutely agree with everything this article says. You have to approach each conversation with the sense of confidence to project what you truly want as the end result. I’m the type of person who approaches life with a sense of ease and patience because I feel that there can always be that one person who simply seeks that ” aura” of comfort from you to truly open up and be themselves. I feel that if I set the standard, set the tone that I would be able to project that confidence without truly over powering the conversation to the standard at which the other party would feel belittled in any way.

    Reply
  18. Profile photo of Scott
    October 19, 2014

    The me, myself, and I point gave me something to work with! I have a thick southern accent, and while people understand me easy enough, I do often wonder why I sound different in person than I do inside my mind. I have no mental accent.. but my words are full of ya’lls and yonders, and slightly slurred speech.

    Reply
  19. Profile photo of Ariana
    October 19, 2014

    While I agree with most of the article, I think it is important to note one thing about the ‘smiling’ point. Sometimes, people (especially bosses) who are always smiling and bubbly aren’t taken as seriously. People sometimes think because you are a nice and approachable person, they can get away with more, such as slacking on the job. So, I think it is important to balance a professional, serious demeanor with a friendly, inviting one.

    Reply

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