But, what about those things that aren’t necessarily classified as body language?
There are plenty of other nonverbal cues that don’t relate to your posture and movements—such as your tone or even your speed of speech—that could be betraying that calm, cool, and collected facade you’re trying your best to maintain.
Whether it’s a big meeting, a presentation, or simply a conversation with someone we admire, we all want to appear polished and confident. But, sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Do your best to avoid these five nonverbal cues, and you’ll come across as self-assured—rather than scared and shaky.
1. Raising Your Pitch
Have you ever met those people who seem to present every single statement as a question? They raise their vocal pitch at the end of each sentence, making it sound as if they’re asking rather than telling.
Unfortunately, women fall into this trap far more often than men. But, that’s not to say it can’t happen to everyone.
In order to present yourself as confident, you want to sound like you have a certain level of authority and credibility. And, ending each of your sentences with that upward inflection definitely won’t help you sound sure of yourself.
Be conscious of your pitch—particularly at the ends of your phrases—and you’ll sound certain, rather than conjectural.
2. Using Filler Words
You knew those pesky filler words had to appear on the list somewhere, and here they are. Of course, these include those empty little words such as “like” and “umm” that you’re used to hearing littered throughout every sentence.
But, there are plenty of others that fit this category as well. Just the other day, I had a conversation with someone who seemed to end every single statement with, “You know.”
These filler words serve as a distraction, and also make it look as if you’re floundering in the conversation. You’re buying time in an effort to figure out exactly what you want to say.
So, know what your point is, and then try to cut out that clutter and use as few words as possible to get there. Pull that off, and you’ll sound completely poised—not to mention intelligent.
3. Forgetting to Breathe
I distinctly remember one presentation I sat through where the speaker appeared to keep forgetting how to breathe. He’d power through several sentences as fast as possible, and then pause for one huge, gasping breath.
It made the entire audience uneasy—and I even found myself feeling short of breath a few times while watching him.
Holding our breath is a seemingly subconscious and natural reaction when we’re feeling nervous or afraid. So, try to remind yourself to breathe when you need to.
After all, turning blue in the face during that big meeting won’t do you any favors.
4. Speaking Too Fast
One surefire way to give yourself some time to breathe? Making an effort to speak slower—much, much slower.
We all have the tendency to significantly speed up our speech when we feel apprehensive. This not only makes you difficult to understand, but it’s also going to make it tough to find the time to take those deep breaths we were just talking about.
Do your best to slow your speech way down. It might feel a little unnatural at first, but you’ll be surprised at how much it helps you.
I get it—some things are funny, and they undoubtedly warrant a hearty chuckle. But, if you’re one of those people who tends to giggle when you’re anxious, you’re going to need to keep this in check.
Nervous laughter is pretty common, and it’s really just your attempt to fill the silence that’s making you feel uneasy.
When you feel tempted to let out a little laugh, just take a brief pause instead. Silence isn’t always a bad thing. And, in most cases, it’s much better than constant, unnecessary laughter.
We all do our best to sound as confident as possible. But, sometimes our bodies betray us—our nonverbal cues swoop right in and undermine our self-assuredness.
Stay away from these five common communication habits that make you look nervous, and you’re sure to present yourself as calm, cool, and collected.
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