A significant challenge facing young business professionals and people stepping into a new role is the ability to project confidence when speaking in front of clients, colleagues, and senior managers. Contrary to what you might assume, feeling confident doesn’t guarantee you’ll project confidence. Bad communication habits can sabotage your image. That could be frustrating for everyone involved, resulting in failure and missed opportunities.

You don’t project confidence if your voice is too small or quiet. There’s nothing wrong with quietness. There’s a time and place for that, but not when you have the floor. You have to learn to engage your voice fully, giving it the clarity and impact we associate with strength and confidence. You don’t have to be loud, but you do have to fill the room and inhabit the space with a sense of ease and generosity.

You don’t project confidence if your voice is flat and monotone. Performance pressure and nervousness tend to flatten your delivery. So trying to appear calm, cool, and relaxed can rob you of the energy needed for expressive and compelling delivery. A confident voice is animated and dynamic. Learn to speak in a way that has you firing on all cylinders right out of the gate.

You don’t project confidence if you mumble. Speaking too fast, not opening your mouth, and allowing phrases to trail off, distort your pronunciation and make you difficult to understand. So your listeners get the feeling you don’t really want them to hear what you’re saying or that you’re indifferent. Confident communicators aren’t afraid to commit. Delivering their message in a way that guarantees clarity. Learn to slow down, speak distinctly and make every word count.

You don’t project confidence with up-speak. Ending statements in a way that drifts upward and sounds like a question. It makes you seem uncertain. Also, up-speak is typical of many adolescents and teenagers, so it suggests youthfulness. Youthful uncertainty does nothing to reinforce your credibility. A confident speaker sounds definite. Their statements are inflected downward in a way that anchors the message. If you’ve been using up-speak, it might seem overly strong at first, but that’s probably just because you’re not used to it.

Everyone deserves a chance—hopefully more than one—to show what she or he can do. So when it’s your turn to step into the spotlight, you want to make the most of that opportunity. You want to project confidence. While you don’t control how your audience responds, you do control what you put out there. So make sure your listeners see the real you, not some version of you that’s distorted by bad habits undermining your professional image.

Learn how it feels to speak with your whole voice. Give yourself permission to be fully engaged in the performance. Deliver your message with clarity and commitment. If you don’t know how to do that, get some help. Your ability to project confidence will pay off in every area of your professional life, and it will become increasingly important as you progress in your career. Learn to project confidence. It’s worth your attention.

For more information and exercises to help you project confidence, click the link below and download the free booklet and video series The Sound of Success.

Project Confidence: Making Your Voice Sound Confident

Your ability to project confidence is critical to your personal and professional life. Just because you feel confident doesn’t mean you sound confident. Here are some common obstacles, with pointers to help you project confidence as a speaker.