How to Speak Confidently in Meetings

by Molly Thompson

Even public speaking is not your best attribute, you can still project a confident, professional image in meetings or public forums. You can improve your ability to speak confidently in meetings much as you would work to improve any other skill -- practice, become knowledgeable about the subject and watch and learn from others who have mastered the skill. Know your material, don't fidget and address your audience directly as you speak to enhance your image as a confident, knowledgeable speaker.

Practice Makes Perfect

You might feel strange at first, but practice public speaking when you're on your own at home. Stand in front of a large mirror and watch yourself as you speak. Watch for, and work to eliminate, nervous mannerisms or annoying habits. Making a video recording of yourself to play back and review is another effective way to practice and improve your speaking skills and confidence. If you're giving a set presentation or speech, practice it repeatedly until you can present it smoothly with limited glances at your notes.

Know Your Stuff

Remember how it felt when the professor called on you in college and you hadn't read the assigned material? Avoid that scenario in the workplace by studying your material ahead of time so you're prepared for presentations, meeting topics and any questions that might arise. You'll come across as far more confident when you're talking about material you know and understand. When you're doing your meeting preparation, try to anticipate questions and learn the information you need to answer them authoritatively.

Stay on Point

When speaking in a meeting, keep your presentation concise and to the point. Don't ramble on unnecessarily about irrelevant material. If you are asked a question, respond specifically to what is asked; don't throw in a bunch of peripheral information the questioner didn't ask for. If you feel you need to expand on an answer, offer to provide additional data after the meeting. This shows you are prepared but respectful of the time of others. It also shows you are confident enough in your knowledge of a subject to know what material is relevant to the entire group and what is better left for an offline meeting.

Project Confidence

Just as you "dress for success" for a job interview or that all-important first day on the job, you can improve your ability to speak confidently by acting and dressing that way. Look the part of the knowledgeable professional that you are to command more respect from your audience. Avoid nervous mannerisms, like playing with your pen, shuffling your note cards or hemming and hawing when you speak. Look directly at your audience, smile and nod occasionally in response to comments or questions and keep your hands and feet still while you're talking.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

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