Unconscious Confidence Killer

I’m going to give the presentation? I’ll go get a coffee? Are you noticing what I’m doing? Christopher Peterson (founding father of positive psychology) calls it UpSpeak. It’s also known 
as high-rise terminals (HRT), and Uptalk. I’m referring to when people (women more than men and I’m not making this up) make
 a statement and allow their voice to rise at the end. It ends up turning the statement into a question.

And it creates a psychological safety net!

Instead of confidently making a statement and moving forward, many ladies are hedging their statements by turning them into questions.
Two things happen as a result:

1. They get the reassurance they are looking for. 
Likely an unconscious request on the speakers part but obvious to those who are listening, AND

2. Other people cannot disagree with the speaker. 
Because they’ve turned their statement into a question. How can you disagree with a question?? Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s brilliant!” Are you kidding me?

It’s an unconscious confidence killer!

I say “unconscious” because I don’t know of anyone who would do that on purpose.
I’ve heard people who UpSpeak, vehemently deny they lack confidence, but here’s the thing . . . maybe they don’t feel a lack of confidence, but when they UpSpeak they don’t sound confident. In their book, “The Confidence Code,” Kay and Shipman report, “We unconsciously make our comment sound like a question in order to deflect criticism.”

That’s not being a good leader!

So what do you do? If you want to increase your confidence, the obvious answer is to . . . Stop doing it!

Easier written than done!

Here’s how you can break the bad habit (because that’s all it is):

1. Flick to Attention

Since it can be difficult to pay attention to your own speech, ask a friend, colleague, or peer to pay attention to your speaking. Each time you convert a phrase into a question, ask them to point it out to you (a little flick on the tip of your nose will make you pay attention – guaranteed).

2. Star in Your Own Movie

If you’re giving a talk or presentation, you can record yourself. (I can see you rolling your eyes at that suggestion, quietly thinking “yeah right, Barb!” Ok, it’s not the easiest suggestion but it is the one that will give you the quickest results).

3. Descend the Stairs

Patrick Munoz (voice and speaking coach) suggests practicing walking down stairs with your phrases. Start out on
the top step with your voice high and as you descend, drop your voice with each step. It’s fun to do! If you want to increase your confidence, have people take you serious, and make a bigger impact, do your homework and lose your UpSpeak!

To Your Success



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  • Our workshop participants found Barb’s approach to teaching at the Centre for Professional Development to be dynamic and engaging.  Barb not only taught effective communication and presentation skills, but also role modelled techniques throughout the day. Participants were excited to be able to apply learning’s directly into their day to day roles

    Leasa Knechtel

    Associate Director at the Centre for Professional Development, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto.

  • Your plenary session was a real asset and a great contribution to the success of our National IPAC Conference. From beginning to end participants were energized and actively engaged.


    Gwyneth Meyers BSc, MSc, PhD

    Scientific Committee Chair

  • “The workshop was wonderful!! Barb walked the talk by continuously demonstrating the tips and skills she was teaching! It was amazing to see it all come together. I would recommend the workshop to anyone who has to present.”

    Bev Waite, Education Lead-Nursing,

    Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

  • I told one of the nurse educators that it was the best 3 hours I have spent in a training session as the content was clear, relevant, exactly enough to be able to incorporate into presentations, and you demonstrated each point which was great. It was watching an expert at work.

    Aideen Carroll, Advanced Practice Nurse Educator

    Toronto General Hospital

  • Your workshop was also a big hit. It was interesting to hear people talk about it as not good, but great.

    Debbie Ross

    CMP Manager of Governance and Events CNA

  • After working with Barb, our team returned to work energized, enthused and inspired to utilize tools that increase our communication, clarity and relationship with not only each other, but also with the residents and families that we serve. I would highly recommend Barb if you want to bring out the best in your team.

    Dale Clements, Administrator

    Columbus Residence

  • Barb Langlois led a wonderful one day workshop for 45 Clinical Nurse Educators in Saskatoon Health Region. She worked with us in advance to really understand our learning needs, Six months later, I see CNEs using Barb’s techniques to engage learners and I use them myself in my own presentations. I strongly recommend Barb – she is a very skilled facilitator who connects with learners in a very meaningful and effective way.

    Margot Hawke RN, BSN, MCEd, Nursing Professional Practice Lead

    Saskatoon Health Region


Seriously? Me, too! covers 10 Power Strategies that seriously work. It takes everyday situations that you can relate to, sprinkles in a bit of humour (you can’t be serious all the time) and demonstrates how you can achieve personal success — one simple step at a time. Learn More »


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