Communicate with CONFIDENCE – in the moment:  Learn the 5 step formula to communicate with confidence in the moment when you feel that nervous energy. The 5 steps include asking a question, breathing, acting confident, focusing with no distractions, and listening, using your ears.  You got this!

Printable shownotes:

CONTENTS – Confidence in the moment

  • SUMMARY – 5 Steps to Communicate with Confidence In the Moment




5 Steps to Communicate with Confidence In the Moment

Ais for ASK a Question



Dis for No DISTRACTIONS, Focus

Eis for Use Your EARS, Listen

“A” is for ASK a Question

  • First – ask WHOM?  If you’re at an event and you don’t know anyone, executive recruiter Sharon Mah-Gin suggests approaching an ODD number of people (like 1 or 3 or 5).  Someone will be happy to talk. (Brilliant, Sharon!)
Sharon Mah-Gin
Sharon Mah-Gin
  • Look the person in the eye, smile, and ask a question. Shift the spotlight. 
  • Ask smart, strategic questions:
    • ask open ended questions
    • ask questions that might inspire a story
    • ask about one of their possessions

“B” is for BREATHE

  • Slow deep breathing optimizes your physical state, oxygenates your blood, clarifies your thinking, reduces anxiety and stress, improves your mood, and optimizes the sound of your voice.  Just ask baritone opera singer, Bradley Christensen!
bradley christensen
Baritone opera singer Bradley Christenson
Dr. Nadine Kelly Yogi MD
Dr. Nadine Kelly Yogi MD

“C” is for Act CONFIDENT

Andrew Musselman
Andrew Musselman
  1. Posture –  Andrew Musselman encourages us to be expansive. Be open. Uncross your legs and unfold your arms. 
  2. Hands – Keep your hands in plain view (on the table, outside your pockets).  If you’re on a zoom call, use slow deliberate arm movements.
  3. Eyes – Face the person (or the audience!). Look at them directly and smile with your eyes. Nod in agreement and mirror the person with whom you are conversing.


“D” is for No DISTRACTIONS – Focus

  1. Practice: as in rehearse
  2. Proverb: as in adopt a mantra
  3. Pep Talk: as in talking it through with a trusted colleague
  4. Pirate: as in copying that confident feeling

“E” is for Use Your EARS – Listen

  • Norman Bacal reminds us that listening is more than waiting your turn to talk. Active listeners ask questions.
Norman Bacal
Norman Bacal
Heather Stark
Heather Stark
  • People will like you more when you listen! And if you’re listening, you’re focusing on the other person, which means you’re not focused on yourself and your nervous energy.

REFERENCES – Confidence in the moment

Talk About Talk Episodes Referenced

*** COMMUNICATE WITH CONFIDENCE Part 1: Mental Preparation ***

BODY LANGUAGE with Cynthia Barlow

BREATHING & POSTURE with Dr. Nadine Kelly


LISTENING with Norman Bacal

NETWORKING with Sharon Mah-Gin

POSSESSIONS with Russell Belk


STORYTELLING with Jerry Zaltman

USING YOUR VOICE with Bradley Christensen




Articles & Videos



Hey there – I’m your communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!) Welcome to Talk About Talk.


If you’re a life-long learner, or if you’re trying to get noticed and advance your career, or perhaps both, then you’re in the right place.

Talk About Talk is a learning platform – an online resource where you’ll learn how to boost your communication skills. If you to check out the Talk About website you’ll see a variety of resources, including academic and white papers, one-on-one coaching, online courses, and the email newsletter, which you can think of as your source for FREE weekly communication coaching. There’s also an archive of well over 50 podcasts. And I update the website with new resources every single week.

We talk about things like Networking, Storytelling, Body language and – how to communicate with confidence!


In the last episode, #58, we focused on MENTAL PREPARATION to help us communicate with confidence.  In other words, what we need to do in advance of a big event so that we can communicate with confidence. 


In this episode we focus on how to communicate with confidence IN THE MOMENT.  As in anytime you feel a little self-conscious or that little shot of adrenaline. You’re going to learn an easy to remember 5-step formula to help you in that moment.


So there are a few things I want you to know about this episode.  First, with very little effort, you will memorize the 5 steps of how to communicate with confidence by the end of the episode. You might memorize them in real time as I take you through them, especially if you’re an auditory learner.  But regardless, at the very end, I’m going to share a simple way – a trick – to help you memorize the 5 steps to boost your confidence in the moment.


The second thing I want you to know is that there are MANY tips and  tactics associated with teach of the 5 steps, like I said.  And these are the tips and tactics that will help you REALLY ROCK IT in terms of your communication and your confidence. So here’s what I recommend: Whether you’re in the car or going for a walk, whatever you’re doing while you’re listening, don’t worry about taking notes.  Just focus on the 5 steps.  Then, later, when you’re in front of your computer, go to and print the shownotes. I created a lovely, printable summary with the 5 steps with all the tips and tactics listed for you.  You’re welcome.


Let’s take a step back.  What is confidence?  Well, confidence is the feeling or belief that you can rely on something.  The word Confidence comes from the Latin fidere, meaning “to trust,” as in trusting oneself. 


So when we communicate with confidence, others will be more likely to rely on or trust us. But here’s the Q: do you trust yourself?


Listening to these two episodes will help you have confidence in yourself, I promise! Starting with the most recent episode, where we focused on Mental preparation.  If you haven’t listened to that episode yet, I encourage you to do so.  Regardless, let me share with you the 4P’s of preparing for a big event:

  1. Practice: rehearse

  2. Proverb: adopt a mantra

  3. Pep Talk: talk it through 1-on-1 with a trusted colleague

  4. Pirate: copy that confident feeling


So that was Part 1 of Communicating with Confidence.  This is Part 2: The 5 steps to communicate with confidence in the moment.


So for this episode, we’re not just talking when you’re preparing for a big presentation. We’re talking about all those times when you suddenly feel self-aware. It could I a professional context like a job interview or it could be a personal context – your first bookclub meeting or maybe when you’re going on a date. It could be when you’re at a conference or maybe when you’re in a meeting (IRL or online, maybe a Zoom meeting).  A situation when you start to question yourself about what to say or what to do.  When you might feel imposter syndrome taking over. You might  feel that little shot of adrenaline pumping through your chest. Unanticipated butterflies. You know that feeling?


Like a few months ago when I was at a conference in downtown Toronto. I was excited to learn new things and meet new people. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about my confidence. When I arrived and walked into the big, half-lit room for the “pre-event networking session,” I looked around at a sea of complete strangers.  YIKES. That’s when I felt that shot of adrenaline. Those unanticipated butterflies.  So do you know what I did?  I quietly recited the 5-step formula that you’re going to learn now, and I walked over to introduce myself. I definitely felt like I had a secret weapon.  It was like a script that helped me focus – instead of dwelling on those butterflies.  And it worked.


OK – let’s get into this. Let’s get into that intense moment.   You’ could be in an important meeting and you KNOW people will be scrutinizing your input. Or maybe you log into a Zoom meeting and the only one there is the CEO.  YIKES!  Or, like me, you walk into a big conference room and recognize absolutely NO ONE. You feel that shot of adrenaline.  What do you do?


The first step is ask a Q.



I love that this one is first, because it’s so simple. Asking a Q also shifts the spotlight off you.  Just look the person in the eye, put a big genuine smile on your face, and ask a question.


This is an aside, but I have a new hack for ensuring your smile is genuine. Recently we’ve all been wearing facemasks.  This makes it tough to communicate, doesn’t it? Have you ever smile at someone when you’re wearing a facemask?  You smile with your eyes, right? So let’s think about that when we’re greeting and smiling at someone. Of course when you greet someone you turn up the corners of your lips to grin,  But then you should also smile with your eyes.


Ok. So you make eye contact, you smile, and you ask a Q.  With a little practice, you can ask smart, strategic Qs that do more than just deflect the attention away from you.

  • For starters, ask open ended Qs. If you’re waiting for a big meeting to start, you could ask someone how they spent the weekend, or perhaps what other projects they’ve been working on.
  • If you’re at a networking event and meeting people, you could try “So – what brings you to this conference?” or “What’s your connection with the host?”
  • That reminds me, I heard this great pointer from executive recruiter Sharon Mah-Gin, whom you may have heard in episode #XXX on where we talked about networking
  • Sharon suggests that when we walk into a room full of strangers and we’re not sure whom to approach? Try walking up to an ODD NUMBER of people. No – not ODD people (haha), but an odd NUMBER of people.  Like 1 person or 3 or 5. Brilliant, right? This ODD NUMBER advice makes sense.  Chances are there’s an odd man out in the conversation who’s happy to chat with you.

If you aren’t sure what Q to ask, I have two suggestions: ask someone to tell you a quick story, or ask them about one of their possessions.    


In episode #11 with Harvard professor Jerry Zaltman, we learned about the power of storytelling.  People love hearing and telling stories! So we can look and listen for cues that could spark a story-telling opportunity. Like maybe someone told you about their crazy commute to work today, you could ask them, “Really?  What happened?” Or if you’re waiting for a Zoom meeting to start, you could ask them about something in their room. Like a lovely painting hanging on the wall behind them or a book that you recognize on their bookshelf. That relates to asking people about their possessions. Nothing too personal! I wouldn’t ask people about their framed photographs, but it could be their art, a book on their bookshelf, or if you’re meeting in real life, the possessions could be a unique bag or the colour of their clothing


One last thing before we move on. Dealing with your nerves in the moment could be totally spontaneous, like I said.  But it could also be planned. Like say when you get onstage or on the Zoom camera for a big presentation.  Here’s a trick: Start your presentation with a clever rhetorical question that will get your audience nodding. Get them engaged and thinking positive and you’ll have a great head start.


So that’s the first step of how to communicate with confidence in the moment: ASK A Q.




The second step?  BREATHE.  As in take a deep breathe.  As the other person is answering your Q, take a moment to optimize your physical state.


We all know that slow, deep breathing oxygenates our blood and helps us think more clearly.  This is important for communication, yes?  Research shows that slow, deep breathing helps reduce anxiety, reduces stress, and improves your mood, amongst other things.


So taking that deep breathe will help relax and prepare you for the conversation.  As Bradley Christensen (the baritone opera singer I interviewed in episode #2) says, deep breathing will also make your voice sound better. 


Bradley encourages deep, mouth breathing, right into the belly.  And he explicitly says, “It’s ok to be a mouth breather – when you are speaking or singing”.


Breathing is an interesting one, since it is something we do non-consciously every minute or every day.  But then we can become conscious of it and we can control it.  My friend Dr. Nadine Kelly (host of the Yogi MD podcast) has a few suggestions:


  • She encourages proper, Diaphragmatic That means fully inflating and fully deflating our lungs. She encourages us to consider a baby’s belly rising and falling.
  • And if we want to strengthen your core (who doesn’t right?), Dr. Kelly encourages us to use our core on your exhale.
  • And speaking of exhale, we can speak as we’re exhaling, in other words project our voice on the exhale.


Dr. Kelly also reminds us that our body systems are all integrated. Everything is connected. Every muscle is connected, and all of our internal systems are inter-connected. That means proper posture is critical.  Yes, mom, you were right! Proper posture, standing up tall reduces fatigue, reduces muscular pain and arthritis, reduces anxiety, it facilitates alertness and awareness, and YES, it emits confidence!


One last thing on breathing – don’t hold your breath!  When I was doing some research about breathing, I read that sometimes when we consciously take slow deep breathes, we hold our breathe.  I can imagine this, right?  It’s like a slow inhale for a count of 3.  Then hold it hold it – wait – NO!  Don’t hold it!  Just breathe….


So that’s the 2nd step of how to communicate with confidence in the moment: BREATHE. Now you’ve asked a Q and optimized your breathing. Now it’s time for step three.  ACTING confident!




Confident people are open and positive, with both their words and their body language. We can act confident, with our words and our physical body language, even if we don’t feel confident.


Research shows that when we ACT confident, we BECOME confident.


This notion was introduced by Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy,  

who has a popular Ted Talk where she says “Don’t fake it till you make it.  Fake it till you become it!”


In other words, it’s not just other people who are listening to you and internalizing the messages that you convey.  But your own brain is also listening to your body.


I’m not advocating being inauthentic here.  I am advocating using your physical body to act confident.  Research shows that when you ACT confident, you will BECOME confident.


My suggestion is to Focus on three elements of your body language:


  • Your posture – Start by taking up lots of space. Be open. Sit or stand up straight. Confident people are expansive. Uncross your legs and unfold your arms. Inhale and exhale fully.
  • Your hands – Don’t hide your hands. Keep them in plain view on the table, or if you’re standing, outside of your pockets. Don’t fidget. And if you’re on a zoom call, use slow deliberate arm movements to express yourself.
  • Your eyes – Face the person who’s talking. Look them directly in the eye. Nod in agreement and mirror the person with whom you are conversing. Smile – not just with your lips. Make direct eye contact and smile with your eyes. 


So that’s the 3rd step of how to communicate with confidence in the moment: ACTING confident. Think POSTURE, HANDS & EYES.


Back to the 5 steps.  You feel that shot of adrenaline.  You need to boost your confidence in the moment. What’s the first step? Ask a Q. Then step 2, optimize your breathing. And now step 3, you’re ACTING confident.


Take up lots of space.  Keep your hands visible. Face the other person, and smile.


Did you get all that? It may seem like a lot, but practice makes perfect.


What’s step 4? FOCUS!



Focus as in being mindful.  Being purposeful.  Not letting yourself get distracted with how you feel.


I have two concrete suggestions for focusing your mind.


Th first is to remind yourself of the 4Ps of Preparation that we talked about in the last episode.

  1. Practice: rehearse
  2. Proverb: adopt a mantra
  3. Pep Talk: talk it through 1-on-1 with a trusted colleague
  4. Pirate: copy that confident feeling


How you choose to focus your thoughts here might depend on the context.

If you’re in an important meeting you might recite your mantra in your head

If you’re in a job interview, you might recall some of the advice you received in a pep talk.

If you’re onstage you might copy or emulate someone else’s confidence.


The other suggestion to focus your mind is to ask yourself a very simple Q: The Q is: WHAT’s MY PURPOSE?  In other words, “why am I here?  What do I want?”


So, for example, if you’re giving a speech, think about the main objective of your speech.  Just focus on your 1 main point.

If you’re at a networking event, focus on your personal brand.

If you’re at an important meeting, ask yourself, what can I get out of this experience? 

  • Maybe there’s a particular person with whom you need to reconnect?
  • Maybe there’s an accomplishment you should to highlight to your boss?


This relates to not just these professional scenarios, but also personal contexts.

For starters, we all need to put our phones away and be present.  Focus.


So ask yourself, what is my PURPOSE here? It’s about being mindful.

And here’s the thing – If you’re thinking about what you’re doing and why, you’re NOT thinking about your nerves!

So that’s the 4th step of how to communicate with confidence in the moment: FOCUS.


Let me remind you of the first 4 steps: Step 1, You’ve asked a Q, step 2, you’ve optimized your breathing, step 3, you’re acting confident. And step 4, you’re focused. 

Don’t worry.  As I promised, I will share with you an easy way to remember these. But first, what’s the 5th step? LISTEN.




This is something that’s certainly been reinforced for me from doing podcast interviews: Listening is tough, but there‘s certainly a big payoff for listening.


And listening means a lot more than just waiting for your turn to say something, as Norm Bacal reminds us in the listening episode. Norm is known as a master communicator, When I asked him what he thinks the most important skill is – for effective communication. You can probably guess what he said.  LISTENING.


Executive leadership coach Heather Stark said the same thing. Listening is the most important skill for leaders.  Heather suggests that we consider a hierarchy for listening. The first level is simple downloading, or passive listening, where we listen for what we already know. The next level is listening with focused intent and empathy. The ultimate stage of listening is generative listening, listening with focused intent, empathy, and then collaborating. That is the ultimate goal – generative listening.


A couple of quick things about listening:


The first is that People will like you more when you listen. 

I’ve shared this story before.  Years ago when I was interviewing for a job after my undergraduate degree, one of the career counsellors told us that “recruiters prefer candidates who ask good Qs and who spend less time talking and more time listening.” I found that fascinating, and I kind of created a game in my mind during my job interviews – where I’d try to minimize the ratio of me talking.  In other words, I’d ask lots of Qs and get the interviewer talking.


Research shows that interviewers prefer candidates when the ratio of the candidate talking is lower.


Another thing to consider: If you’re listening, you’re focusing on the other person, which means you’re not focused on yourself and you’re certainly not thinking about your nervous energy!


And one last thing about listening.  listening links back to the first stage that we talked about here – asking Qs. Active listeners ask questions.


So that’s the last step. Step 5.  Listen.




Now, it’s time to pull this altogether.  I encourage you to take a moment to memorize these 5 steps.  Do you have them memorized?  I have a great trick to help you – to help US – memorize them.  Are you ready?  It’s A.B.C.D.E.:

A – ASK Qs




E – use your EARS.  Listen. 


If you go to the shownotes on the website, I created a printable one page summary for you with these ABCDEs of how to communicate with confidence IN THE MOMENT.  You’ll also find a summary of all the tips and tactics that we went through.


Here’s my challenge for you.  When you feel that shot of adrenaline and you need a confidence boost IN THE MOMENT– whether its professional personal- at an important meeting, or at the dinner table, remind yourself of the ABCDEs. But memorizing the 5 steps isn’t the hard part.  The hard part is reminding yourself to use them. 


Yes, it definitely takes practice. But it gets easier and it definitely works. I’ve received emails from people who have successfully navigated intense situations using these 5 steps.


The first time I used these 5 steps of how to communicate with confidence in the moment was just over a year ago.  Since then, it has become second nature.  But let me tell you about that first time.


I remember it was a hot day last summer – way pre-COVID-19.  I took the subway to a conference that I was really excited to attend.  I wasn’t nervous at all – just happy to have the opportunity to learn new things and reconnect with some people I hadn’t seen for a long time.  I registered at the door, then walked in and got myself a glass of water. Then I turned around – to a sea of strangers. I instantly felt that shot of adrenaline. Not one familiar face.


Ugh. My first thought was GET ME OUTTA HERE.  Then I said to myself: NO – ABCDE! A is ASK A Q!


I spotted some space at a cocktail table with a few people chatting. I slowly walked over – rehearsing the ABCDE’s in my mind! Guess what? It worked!!!


I looked one of the friendly faces in the eye and (A) Asked “so, what brings you here? Have you ever been to this conference before?”  Then I (B) took a deep breathe.  I smiled and remembered to (C) act Confident.  I stood up tall and made sure my hands weren’t hidden.  Honestly, I started to feel confident at that point.  It really was so easy!!!  Then I moved on to (D).  No Distractions.  I reminded myself of why I was there.  My objective was to network on behalf of Talk About Talk. This came easy, since I had just asked people what their connection was to the conference.  They then asked me the same.  This was a great opportunity for me to tell people about Talk About Talk.

(Yes, I handed out business cards and connected with conference speakers and attendees on social media – right there and then!)


I also tried to focus on (E) – using my ears and listening.  I met some fantastic folks, and ended up booking a Talk About Talk podcast interview with one person and collaborating with another as a result of this interaction.  AMAZING, right?


Honestly, I mean this, I don’t think this would’ve just fallen on my lap if I hadn’t been focused on the 5 steps of how to communicate with confidence in the moment.


In retrospect, I’m thinking these 5 steps, the ABCDEs provided me with confidence, like a secret tool that I had in my mind, to keep me from feeling nervous or awkward. 


Alright – that’s it.  I sincerely hope these 5 steps help you improve your confidence and your communication effectiveness.  I’d love to hear how it goes!  Please email me and let me know.  Or, better yet, if you’re feeling CONFIDENT, take a deep breath and record your comments and feedback! 


It’s super easy – Here’s what to do: go to the talk about website and go to the ABOUT tab.  Scroll down to the CONTACT section.  There’s an icon there that says, “SEND A VOICE MESSAGE TO ANDREA.”  Just click it and talk!  It’s super easy.  I’d love to hear how the 5 steps of how to communicate with confidence have worked for you.  Or you can share other things like questions you have about communication skills or topics you’d like me to cover.  And you might even hear your voice on a talk about talk podcast episode!


Again – I’d LOVE to hear how it goes.


One last thing – if you’re not signed up for the Talk About Talk communication skills newsletter, please do!  This is your chance to get free communication skills coaching from me every week in a simple to digest email.  I promise  no spam and no more than one per week.  Just go to talk to sign up or email me directly  and I’ll add you to the list. You can email me anytime at


THANKS for listening – and READING!








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