Do you want to be an intimidating speaker?
Some of you might say, “Yes”! You believe intimidation communicates power.
Most of you, however, likely want to avoid being seen as too aggressive when you speak.
But intimidation in speaking isn’t just about being bellicose. Intimidation can also come from subtle habits you may not even realize you have.
Here are three signs you might be an intimidating speaker:
1. You pause frequently – One of the signs you might be intimidating your audience when you speak is if you have frequent pauses. If you’re the type of person who wants to find the perfect word for what you’re trying to describe, you’re pausing because you’re meticulous, not because you’re trying to intimidate. But unfortunately, that’s likely not how your audience sees it.
While you’re thinking about word choice, your audience might be asking all sorts of questions you don’t want them to ask. Why are you being so cautions? What’s wrong? Do you have some other agenda?
The solution is to stop worrying so much about finding the perfect word. Focusing on your ideas rather than your words will allow you to have more rhythm and less potentially intimidating pauses.
2. Your facial expressions are blank – Another one of the signs you might be an intimidating speaker is if you have blank facial expressions. This is a problem you may not even know you have, so make sure to watch a video of yourself speaking.
What’s the problem with blank facial expressions? You come across as cold, aloof — robotic. You might be an extremely warm and caring person, but if your facial expressions are blank, your audience won’t believe it.
If you are too hidden with your expressions, you may want to exercise your face just to get your muscles moving. Try squeezing your face together. Now, release. Once you get the muscles stimulated and you practice making faces, you’ll discover over time that when you concentrate on what you’re saying, your face will naturally respond
3. You “drill down” with your questions – Finally, you may come across as intimidating if you get into a habit of “drill downs.” Drill-downs are when you ask several questions in a row with machine-gun intensity.
You may resort to this when you’re stressed or frustrated with a lack of progress on a certain issue.
Of course, maybe you want to come across as intimidating by doing this. But if not, recognize that less is more — one precise question is better than an array of whatever questions come to mind.
If you have any of these habits, you may be sending a message you never intended to send. The solution is to become more self-aware, so that you can make the choices that reflect your intentions.
By understanding these behaviors, you will be able to come across as a more warm and approachable leader.