Speak Like a Confident Leader! Do These 3 Things!

Do you want to speak like a confident leader? Do you admire or maybe even envy other professionals who can speak in a confident way? Well, despite what you might think, they weren’t born like that. Their ability to communicate with confidence is something they’ve likely developed over time. The good news is, because it’s a skill they’ve developed, it’s a skill you can develop too. And in this blog post, I will teach you how. 

1. Use a firm, clear and confident voice to speak like a confident leader

The first step to speak like a confident leader is to use a firm, clear and confident voice. What I’m essentially talking about here is how your voice sounds. Not words you use, but how your voice sounds. And despite what you might think you actually have a lot of control over how your voice sounds.

You have control over things like your tone, speed, and intonation. All of these things – when used in the right way – can make your voice sound firm, clear and confident.

Before we get into “how” to achieve that, I want to talk about “why” having a voice that is firm, clear and confident is important.

Why is having a firm, clear and confident voice important?

As a leader, people look up to you. They look up to you for direction, guidance, and support. When people look up to you, they want to know that you’ve got it together. That you’re n control.

If you communicate in a way that says you’re hesitant, that you don’t know what you’re doing, people aren’t going to think you’re “in control”. They won’t look up to you. And they won’t follow you. If people don’t follow you, then you won’t have any impact as a leader.

That is why it’s important to have a firm, clear and confident voice – so you can have more impact.

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How can you achieve a firm, clear and confident voice?

There are three ways you can achieve a firm, clear and confident voice.

1. Slow down your speech.

When you speak at a slower pace, it immediately makes you sound “in-control”. You appear to know what you’re saying. You’re confident that you can hold people’s attention. Conversely, when you speak fast, you sound nervous and you also look like you’re worried about losing people’s attention.

Take notice the next time you’re in a conversation with somebody and they’re speaking fast. How does that make them sound? Confident? In control? Or not?

If you want to have more impact when you speak, I recommend you slow down your speech.

2. Lower your tone tiny bit.

When you speak in a high-pitch tone it makes you sound nervous, young, or insecure. When you speak in lower tone, it makes you sound certain, decisive, and confident.

Think back to somebody whom you thought sounded confident when they spoke. Was their tone high-pitched? Or was it lower?  

Changing your tone at first might feel awkward. You might be tempted to lower your voice too much. Be careful of this. You’re not aiming to become a baritone! You only want to shave off the high-pitch sound from your voice and add in a little more depth to it. 

Try it out when you’re with new people. See how it feels. See how they react. Do they treat you as somebody who is confident and like a leader? If it works, then start to incorporate it into your everyday communication.

3. Remove the upswing.

What is the upswing? The upswing is the rising intonation at end of statement. Not a question, but a statement. In this video at point, you will hear what the upswing is (at 6:31 minutes).

The example I share in this video is a bit exaggerated, but you get the picture.

You’ve probably seen it in films. And it’s surprising how often you can pick this up in interviews with prominent business people.

Why is the upswing so bad? The upswing makes you sound hesitant and unsure of yourself. It makes your statements sound like questions. You should be sure of your statements, therefore, you shouldn’t use the rising intonation as you would with a question.

Instead, use the downswing – push down your intonation at the end of your statements. Like this:

“I sent you that report last Friday. It was about how we should respond to that client’s request” [downward intonation].

Or, “I took the train into the city on the weekend. I had to go to the Apple Store and buy a new computer” [downward intonation].

Do you see how more confident and assertive this sounds?

2. Remove hesitancy from your verbal communication to speak like a confident leader

The second step to speak like a confident leader is to remove hesitancy from your verbal communication. Even if you have a confident sounding voice, sometimes hesitancy can creep through with the words you use.

If you use

  • um, ah, er,
  • basically,
  • literally,
  • just,
  • like, or
  • you know,

these are all filler words that, if overused, can detract from a clear message.

As a leader, when you communicate, clarity is everything so you need to make an effort to remove hesitancy to ensure your communication is clear.

Other phrases that make you sound hesitant are

  • “It’s kind of…”, and 
  • “It’s sort of…”.

For example, “You know that client report, well, it’s kind of your responsibility”. Or, “I think Tuesday is sort of the best option for the meeting”.

Using filler words or hesitant, non-committal phrases don’t make you sound like a leader. What you want to aim for in your verbal communication is verbal commitment.

Verbal commitment will help you sound sure about what you’re saying. It will help you sound committed to what you’re saying.

This takes courage, especially when you’re not used to communicating like this. If you’re a passive communicator and you don’t know how to communicate assertively, then it’s going to take courage for you to change your style of communication. But I encourage you to try it. 

Try removing filler words and hesitant language. Don’t replace them with anything. Just remove them from your sentences.

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3. Use thought-provoking questions to begin a discussion to speak like a confident leader

The third step to speak like a confident leader is to use thought-provoking questions to begin a discussion. Using thought-provoking questions to begin a discussion is a great way to look like a leader. It’s a great way to look certain and confident in the conversation.

How? By asking questions, you put yourself in position of conversation leader. And as conversation leader, you have control over the conversation. You can facilitate it and steer it in direction you want it to go.

And the benefit of this if you’re shy or introverted is you can play centre stage in the conversation  without doing all the talking. You simply ask questions to your conversation partner, and they do all the talking instead! 

As to what questions you can ask, I recommend that you ask open-ended questions that use

  • what,
  • why, or
  • how.

For example, “What lead you to that decision?”, “Why did you come to that conclusion?”, “How should we do this in the most efficient way?”.

All of these questions will get other person thinking. They will help you start a discussion. And they will help you position yourself as a confident leader. 

Watch this video below to hear more about how to speak like a confident leader!

About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox