Understand the specific physical cues that project intelligence—to project comfortable confidence without seeming arrogant. Learn to avoid fancy words, speak at a good pace, and more.
- To project confidence, your words matter a lot. Just remember to speak simply and plainly. Most of the time, fancy words and excessively long words usually don't help, and sometimes they can make you look arrogant, as if you're trying too hard to look smart. Keep it simple. Next, remember not to speak too fast. You need to speak clearly and with good grammar, which means using a reasonable, medium pace. To speak too quickly, can make what you're saying hard to follow, and it can also be interpreted as overconfidence or insecurity.
Now, beyond using the right words the right way, we also know that you can amplify the power of your words by using the correct supportive, nonverbal behaviors. Let's briefly think about a few of the best ones. First, definitely look at the person speaking, but don't stare the entire time. About 75-80% of the time, look directly at the person. The rest of the time is used in a manner that supports the interaction. Maybe you're finding a certain number on a report that relates to the conversation, or you're quickly jotting down a note about something they said.
Next, is posture. Standing or sitting, always err on completely upright posture. It signals attention and interest, and it shows that you're engaged with what's going on. In contrast, poor posture often directly suggests a lack of engagement, or poor confidence, or at a minimum, a lack of interest. It's also very useful to intentionally use types of body movements, just like the pace of your words we mentioned a moment ago, the pace of your movements should generally be calm and measured.
Believe it or not, consistently moving too fast often suggests nerves and insecurity. Along with that, let me also suggest appropriate use of nodding to indicate general comprehension. In small doses, this is particularly useful right after someone has made a key point while talking. Don't nod the whole time, that will seem odd, but a little of this behavior over the course of a conversation is quite useful. Next, think about your face. Too often, people think they're supposed to show interest by using a serious face.
Notice my furrowed brow, and how I'm holding my mouth. (laughs) Sometimes people will make themselves look even more serious by touching their face. You can only do this a little, especially if you feel intrigued or confused. But done a lot or the whole time, it looks odd, too stern, and often insincere. Instead, your goal is to relax your face, show a little positivity, and only use a few larger expressions. Okay, last tip.
It's important you identify your most common unproductive nonverbal behavior when you're speaking to someone, or maybe sitting in a meeting. Who knows what it might be? For some people, strumming their fingers on the table. For others, it's constantly twirling a pen, and yet for others, it might be pulling on a strand of hair. Empower a friend to tell you if you have one. Then do your best to stay conscious of it so the behavior becomes extinct. Let me summarize all of this by telling you you can't really fake being smart, and these tips are not intended to help you fake anything.
They're just simple tools you can learn to casually adopt to increase the chance that you correctly convey your intelligence.