How to use confident language

‘We like to think that we are very good at what we do.’

A fairly reasonable statement for most people and not much wrong with it.  But, ask yourself this – do you want to be remembered for being fairly reasonable or do you seek higher recognition for being, quite frankly, top of your game?

I ‘like to think’ a lot of things but that doesn’t necessarily make them true or, indeed, say much.  You either are something or you aren’t.  If you aren’t, then don’t pretend you are but if you are then say it and say it with confidence.

This is about demonstrating confidence and not undermining yourself.  Potential clients will respond well to a healthy level of self-belief and generally want it in their advisers.  If you have a trumpet, blow it; if you have a light, don’t hide it away under a bushel and remember that no one else is going to say it for you.  This is not arrogance – this is conviction.

If you’ve been invited in to pitch to a panel, then they want to know why you are the best for the job and you will not inspire that kind of certainty with apologetic language that implies you are not wholly sure of your capability.  If they ask you the question straight out, ‘why you?’ then you must come straight back to them with a confident response and it is time well spent thinking about what such a response would look like (without it becoming too overly rehearsed of course).

Which sounds better: ‘If we were we lucky enough to be appointed as your advisers, we would want to offer you…’ or ‘As your advisers we will provide…’?  We can be too self-deprecating and undermine ourselves with words that do nothing to instil confidence.

Assertively stating, ‘as your advisers’ doesn’t imply any assumption on your part, but rather suggests a belief and level of confidence that the client is looking for. Equally, it also puts that thought into their head – you are aligning your name with being their adviser. Saying you ‘will’ do something is action-based positive language whereas saying you ‘would want’ to do something is at best aspirational. Again, there are lots of things I would want to do, but whether I will or not is another matter. By saying we will do something we are far more likely to actually do it.

Here are some more:

  • ‘I feel that we would add real value,’
  • ‘I’d just like to…’
  • ‘I believe that by working with us you will really notice a difference.’

‘Feel, just and believe’ introduce an element of doubt (the last thing you want in a pitch or promotion).  So, what can you say instead?  ‘Confident, convinced, know’ can easily replace ‘feel, think and believe.’  If you’d like to do something, do it rather than saying you’d like to do it and ‘just’ should just go!  Switch from the emotional to the declarative to provide as much certainty as you can.

Finally, don’t fall into President Nixon’s trap of telling people what you are not (‘I am not a crook’).  Negative statements provide no information and sound defensive.  Make positive statements instead especially when discussing your fee structure – be proud and confident and say it as it is.  You’re in the room for a reason.

Luan de Burgh is a professional public speaker and presentation coach. More of his articles can be read here.