Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today we are going to talk about how to come across as more confident when speaking English.
As a speaker of English as a second language, you may feel that the confidence that you have in English is not like the confidence that you have in your native language.
Now, this is not a video about how to boost your confidence from the inside. I have a bunch of videos about that. Actually, in this video, I’m going to share with you 6 external things that you can do in order for you to come across and sound more confident when speaking in English.
But here’s the thing. When you fake it, you become it. So, if you walk into the shoes of a more confident speaker, it will ultimately help you become more confident, and feel more confident when communicating. Because at the end of the day, that’s what we want. And we want to bridge that gap between how we feel in our native language and how we express ourselves, and how we express ourselves in English.
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The six things that will make you come across as more confident in English are vocabulary used, attitude, voice, intonation, pace, and preparation.
Let’s start with the first – voice. Your voice is the first thing that people hear. It’s your true expression. And sometimes our voices are a little softer, weaker, broken, lower, higher than our voice in our native language. There are many reasons for that. If you want to learn more, go watch my video about the voice.
But for now, I just want to tell you that the thing about the voice is that when you don’t have vocal presence, and when people simply can’t hear you because you’re too soft or your volume is too low, then it may make you come across as insecure.
So, you want to understand that when your voice is deeper and fuller, people will understand you and hear you better, and you will seem more confident. So for example, if I were to speak like this right now, would it give you the same experience and feeling and emotion? Would it generate the same feeling and emotion?
Then when I would be speaking like this to you, right, when I lower my voice, when my voice is a little deeper and fuller, then it seems like I know what I’m talking about. Well, it’s not just that. But I want you to know that this is a part of it. So, bringing the voice into a place that is fuller, so it’s not too low that people can’t hear you, and it’s not too soft that people still can’t hear you and it sounds just a little weak.
You want to find that nice balance between your lower notes and your higher notes. And again, if you want to learn more about that and find powerful exercises to help you boost your vocal power, go watch the video about how to improve your speaking voice in English. So, focusing on bringing the voice to a place that is stronger and deeper is a great way for you to come across as more confident.
One more thing that may affect how confident you seem is your attitude. How many times has that happened to you – you walked into a conversation, or a meeting, or a talk, and the first thing you said is, “I’m sorry for my English”, “I’m sorry for my mistakes”, “My English is terrible. Sorry about that”?
The first thing before you even started talking, you apologize. Do you have already positioned yourself below the person in front of you? You’ve said, “I’m a little inferior to you because I don’t know how to speak the language that well. I make mistakes”.
Now, first of all, newsflash, English is your second language, which means that you will be making mistakes in English. If you speak in a language that is not your native language, you are very likely to make mistakes. That’s just circumstances. That’s facts of life. That’s the way the brain works.
And that is okay. You do not need to apologize for it. I don’t apologize for the fact that I’m short. I was born that way. I wouldn’t, you know, think about saying something like, “Oh, I’m really sorry for the fact that I’m so short, and you have to look down when speaking to me”. Right? Same idea. So that’s the first reason. So you already positioned yourself and you put yourself in an inferior position before you even started, and that does not seem confident, my friend.
Another reason is that the moment you point out something, people will start paying attention to it. For example, I want you to not think about the purple elephant in this room. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about the purple elephant. So when I said that, what’s the first thing that came to your head? A purple elephant, right?
When someone is telling you not to think about something, you want to think about it all the time. So when you point out that you will be making mistakes, guess what? People will start noticing every single mistake that you make, whereas usually people don’t even pay attention to it. They’re just speaking, they communicate with you.
So you don’t want to put yourself in a position where people constantly look at you, observe you, and you don’t want to feel that yourself. So, do not apologize for your English. You have the permission to make mistakes, to get stuck and to not use the perfect words. It’s okay. Keep on working on it, but you deserve to speak despite that. And that attitude will affect how confident you seem when speaking.
The next thing is intonation. I have a lot of things to say about intonation, but in this case, I’m going to talk about a particular pattern that may make you sound more confident or less confident, depending on how you use it. And that is the way you end your sentences.
At the end of sentences there are two very common patterns. One, when you go up in pitch – it’s called a rising-rising intonation. And it feels then that there is something else coming up, especially when you ask questions, like yes-no questions. Are you hungry? Did you eat? Do you want to go? Is it late? Did you like it? Right?
So when I use this intonation, it indicates that I’m waiting for a response. Usually, yes or no. Now, for statements, we usually want to end with a rising-falling intonation. “I had a really lovely time tonight”. “Nice meeting you”. “Great job”. “My name is Hadar”.
So, I bring my voice up at the end, but then I drop it down. So it’s called a rising-falling intonation. Now, the way it is perceived is that rising-falling intonation, or dropping your pitch down at the end, creates more of this sense of certainty, especially when it comes to statement.
Whereas this rising-rising intonation creates a sense of uncertainty. And then if you use this rising-rising intonation because it feels like you’re waiting for an answer or for a response, when you use it in statements, it may make you seem less confident and less certain in what you’re saying.
Let me give you an example. I’m going to say something and I’m going to do it in two different ways. The first I’m going to use the up-speak, rising intonation at the end of sentences. And then the second one, I’m going to use rising-falling intonation, at the end. Okay? And let’s see what emotions it generates and how you see me in each of those ways.
“Hi, my name is Hadar . I’m an accent and fluency coach. I have an online school, and I have a membership program for teachers who are learning how to build their online business and teach pronunciation”.
In comparison to, “Hi, my name is Hadar, and I’m an accent and fluency coach. I have an online school, and I also have a membership program for English teachers looking to build and grow their online business”.
Now, what seemed more confident to you? The first option or the second option? When I go up, it feels like I’m asking for your permission. And when I go down, it’s like I know what I’m talking about. Now, it’s okay to use this rising-rising intonation, like I did here. “I have an online school”, right? I went up, but it was not the end of the sentence.
“And I have a membership program for English teachers looking to grow and build their online business”. And then I dropped down. That sounded more confident.
“I love what I do. I’m very thankful”. “I love what I do? I’m happy?” “Are you?” Right? So when I say something with that rising-rising intonation, it feels like, are you asking, or are you telling me?
Now, sometimes you want to use this up-speak if you don’t want to sound too intimidating or strict because again, it is a tool, and we need to understand that. But if it happens to you subconsciously, then you need to become aware of it cause you need to know that it does make you seem a little less certain and a little less confident. And if you don’t want that, then this is something you should work on.
The next thing is pace. Here’s the thing. A lot of non-native speakers tend to speak a little too fast in English. The reason for that could be because maybe they’re just carrying the rhythm of their native language over to English. Because in their native language, everything is really, really fast, and the vowels are short.
Maybe, if you do that, you are afraid that you’re going to forget what you want to say, and you’re trying to catch up with your thoughts that are way, way faster than your mouth. Maybe it’s just because you don’t want people to notice that you’re making any mistakes, so you just speak really fast.
Whatever it is, when you speak fast, it does not make you sound or seem more confident – on the contrary. So slow down. And I’m not talking about ‘now you need to speak like this’. No. But you want to take breaks, you want to take pauses, you want to stretch the words that are stressed, and you want to get comfortable.
Because when you start speaking fast, then you start losing your breath, you start hyperventilating, and that creates more tension, leads to more insecurity, and you come across as less confident.
One more thing that may help you come across as more confident is your choice of words. Well, either your choice of words to use or choice of words not to use. There are a lot of words in English that we often use that diminish what you’re trying to say.
‘Just’. “I just thought that you might be interested in this project”. Instead of, “I thought you might be interested in this project”. Or, “You might be interested in this project”. Right? So, adding things like “I thought”, or “just”, or “maybe” reduce what you’re trying to say, and it does sound a little less confident
Now, yeah, sometimes you’re trying to be polite and not too pushy, especially when there is this cultural differences where maybe your culture tends to be a bit more direct than American culture, in particular, that tends to be more polite.
But you want to know that the words that you use, especially in certain situations, may reduce your message. And when it reduces your message, you will come across as less confident. So, saying something like, “Oh, absolutely”, “definitely”, “true”, “one hundred percent” is better than “I think so”, “I guess so”, “If you think”.
If you use words that take away the power of decision from you – “Okay, I’m just saying ‘yes’ because you suggested it” – then it may make you seem a little less confident. So pay attention to the words that you use. Sometimes, especially as non-native speakers, we just use words that we hear or that are available to us. But words have power and have meaning. So you want to use those words carefully, and to be aware of the connotations that they bring as you use them.
Also, you don’t have to constantly check if the other person understands you. “Do you know what I mean?” “Does that make sense?” “Did you understand what I’m trying to say?” Especially if you are not sure if the other person understood you because of your English, because you couldn’t communicate yourself fully.
There are other ways to see if the other person is on board with you. For example, “Do you have any questions for me?” Right? You open it for a discussion. If they don’t understand, they’ll find a way to ask a question that will help them understand what you’re trying to say better. That’s a lot stronger and more powerful than “Did you understand what I was trying to say?”
The last thing is preparation. My friend, if you want to come across as more confident, you have got to prepare. You cannot just wing it, especially if English is not your first language and you present or talk in English. You got to prepare, you’re going to be clear about what you’re trying to say. You got to know what words you might be using.
You want to say it out loud a few times. Because when you say it out loud, it actually starts making sense, or it starts not making sense. And then you can try and work on it before you are sitting in front of people.
Because that feeling when you start talking and then you hear yourself and you’re like, “What am I even trying to say?” Well, that drops your confidence right to the ground, and then that affects your English, your voice, your pace, and of course, the energy that you are presenting and conveying.
So, you want to come prepared, both in English and in your native language. Really, I think that this is probably the most important thing that I can share with you. Because you can also prepare using all these elements that we talked about: paying attention to that your intonation goes down at the end of sentences; your voice, your pace, the words that you use.
When you prepare, you can take all of that good stuff that we discussed today and actually rehearse it before doing it in front of people. Listen, I know for making a ton of videos that for me to come across as more confident and more clear and concise, I have to do it quite a few times.
Even right now, what I’m telling you now, do you think that I’m just winging it in front of the camera? No. I had to say it to myself two or three times before as I was walking and preparing and getting all the set ready. I said it out loud just to see how it sounds to see how it comes across. And of course, I changed a lot of things until I decided to stand here in front of the camera and to record it.
So, prepare and you will see the immediate impact it has on your confidence. And it’s not just going to make you seem more confident, it’s going to make you feel more confident. So don’t underestimate the power of preparation.
Okay, that’s it. Now I want you to let me know in the comments below, what is your one takeaway from this video? What are you going to start doing differently? Is it going to be paying attention to your voice, the intonation of the end of sentences?
Is that the words that you choose to use? Your attitude? Stop apologizing for your English? Your pace, maybe, to slow down a bit more. Or is it that you’re going to try and prepare better for your speaking engagements, and for your videos, and zoom calls?
Let me know in the comments below. And if you liked it, then click Like and share it with your friends. And if you want more stuff from me and if you want to take it one step further, come on over to my website. There’s a lot of good stuff for free waiting for you on my website. And you can subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly lesson into your inbox every single week.
Have a beautiful week and I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.