Passion and Immediacy: The Key Ingredients for Confident Speaking
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    Passion and Immediacy: The Key Ingredients for Confident Speaking

    Confidence is more than just managed anxiety. A confident speaker is passionate and immediate with his or her audience. Your audience feels your confidence, rather than sees it. They respond to it and respect it. Ultimately, it is your confidence that garners you credibility.

    Put passion into action
    Passion comes from the energy and enthusiasm that a speaker exudes as well as from the words used. When preparing and practicing your talk, be sure to reflect back on what excites you about your topic and how your audience will benefit. Reminding yourself of your motivation can help energize you (or reenergize you if you give your presentation over and over again). Additionally, seeing yourself as being in service of your audience – helping them to learn, grow, achieve – should also ignite your spirits. This energy should manifest itself in how you relay your information. By no means am I implying you have to be a cheerleader for your message, you need to find a method for relaying your conviction that is authentic and meaningful for you. But, your audience wants and needs to feel the “fire in your belly.”

    Tactically, choose wording that is emotive and audience directed. This will help you reveal your passion. Words such as “benefits”, “outcomes,” and “change” move audiences. Include adjectives to further excite and motivate. Most importantly speak these words in an emotive way that reflects your inner feelings and remains true to both your way of being in the world and the tone of your presentation.

    Be warmly immediately
    Immediacy is a term coined in the late 1960’s by psychology professor Albert Meharabian to represent the many verbal and nonverbal behaviors people express to build emotional connection. Nervous and novice speakers tend to retreat physically and emotionally when presenting: They step back away from the audience while drawing their arms across their chests and hunching over. They hide behind a lectern. Their language is more formal, such as “one must consider.” Contrast this to speakers who communicate in an immediate fashion by holding an open, balanced posture and using language that is conversational and inclusive, such as “you should know or we all need to…” Research has shown that leaders and presenters who communicate in an immediate way are more effective and better liked.

    Building on the immediacy work started decades ago, current researchers, such as popular TED presenter and Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy, have shown that warmth is also a key trait of successful presenters. Warmth can be thought of as operationalized empathy. It is a combination of understanding your audience’s needs and displaying that understanding through your actions. Warm presenters acknowledge their audience’s needs by verbally echoing them (e.g., “Like you, I once…”). Further, they maintain an engaged posture, leaning forward and moving towards people who asked questions.

    By conveying your passion in an immediate way, you demonstrate your confidence. You show your audience that you are authentic in your intent and committed to your message.