The way you speak matters.
If you don’t sound like you expect respect, you might not get it.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a natural leader to speak with authority, or the king of self-esteem to speak with confidence. With a little practice, anyone can begin to speak with authority and confidence.
Don’t believe me? Just keep reading
Authority and Confidence
Authority and confidence are the two tones that inspire respect. Although some people use them interchangeably, they are different.
Authority refers to the tone you use when you actually have authority over someone and you want to inspire obedience. Picture a general giving a command
Confidence refers to the tone you use when you don’t have authority over someone, but you still want to inspire respect. Picture someone explaining an idea they strongly believe in.
We’re going to start by learning how to speak with authority, because speaking with confidence is basically just speaking with authority but 50% less intense.
Got it? Awesome — let’s keep going.
The Power Of The Pause
To begin speaking with authority, add deliberate pauses to your sentences.
For short sentences, add one pause at the halfway point. For longer sentences, add two pauses at the 1/3 and 2/3 mark.
If you’re going to tell someone “Back off”, add a pause. Say “Back, off” (notice the comma).
If you’re going to say “Sit down right now”, say “Sit down, right now.”
If you’re going to say “You need to behave and apologize to your sister” you would say “You need to behave, and apologize, to your sister.
Here’s an example of what the pauses sound like. I’m not adding anything else yet, just pauses. So it won’t sound authoritative yet — but we’re getting there.
Try it now. Say those sentences out loud, with pauses and without. Get a feel for when the pauses should naturally appear.
We’re not done yet. Next, we need to add emphasis.
When you are speaking with authority, all of your words should be a little more emphasized. However (and this is key) the last word before a pause should be doubly emphasized. So instead of saying “You need, to sit down” you should say “You need, to sit down.”
Don’t confuse emphasis with anger. Stay calm, and don’t raise your voice. You want to add force to your words, not volume. If you don’t sound in control of yourself, people will not respect you.
Need an example? Here’s a recording of me speaking first without authority, then with authority (proper emphasis and pauses.) Notice how I don’t sound angry or loud — just firm. Also notice how the last word before each pause gets extra emphasis.
Make sure that you are also going down in pitch on this final word, rather than up in pitch. If you go up in pitch, it will sound like a question, and you don’t want that.
Here’s another example, first of me moving my pitch up at the end of the sentence, and a second with the pitch moved down. Notice how when the pitch moves up, it makes me sound more whiny and questioning.
Speaking With Confidence
Of course, you only want to speak with authority when you actually have authority. If you start ordering your friends around, you will soon find yourself without friends. (However, note that if anyone — even a friend — is not respecting your boundaries, you should use a tone of authority to tell them to back off.)
Fortunately, it’s easy to use this tone to signal confidence instead of authority. Just reduce the intensity about 50%. In other words, keep the pauses, but make your emphasis about 50% lighter.
You’ll want to practice this a little until it sounds natural. I recommend recording your voice and listening to yourself to see how you sound. With a bit of practice, you’ll find it easy to switch between a tone of authority and a tone of confidence.
Here’s an example of me speaking without confidence, and then with friendly confidence (but not authority). You should be able to hear slight emphasis, but not as much as when I was speaking with authority.
Confidence And Authority In Everyday Life
There you have it!
You now know how to speak with authority, and with confidence.
Practice makes perfect, of course, so spend some time in front of a recorder until you feel sure that you are able to create the correct pauses and emphasis. If you have a friend or family member that you trust, you might even want to practice with them.
But however you practice, over time you’ll become more and more able to speak with authority and confidence. Your tone will tell others that you expect respect — and you’ll receive more respect as a result.
It’s as simple as that.