Imagine this: an audience of employees and stockholders gathers to hear what inspiring words their esteemed CEO has for them. On cue, the CEO strides to the microphone, puts his hands on the lectern, squints into the teleprompter and launches into a monotone presentation:

“It’s pretty good to see you all here today. We’re hoping this might be a decent year for our company. We have a few new products that may do reasonably well in the marketplace. We have a group of fairly productive employees who should put in adequate effort to help us come close to the numbers we need to succeed. All in all, we’re trying to make this next year a successful one—if everything works out, we think we’ll do it. Will you please consider supporting us?”

How does that kind of approach sound? Do you feel inspired in any way, shape or form? Clearly, it’s the job of a CEO-or any speaker in this situation-to inspire confidence.

Speakers inspire others through their words and their actions. Confidence is a critical attribute in a successful speaker, and audiences recognize it by listening to the words you choose and the way you approach them. Let’s look at each of those characteristics:

Sounding Confident

Sounding confident requires both careful word choice and vocal quality. Confident speakers are the ones who inspire people to run through walls for them. They use strong language, not the weak QUALIFIERS that came through in our little exercise. Terms such as might, can, maybe, fairly, try, if, and think are all qualifiers, or words that substantially weaken your message.

Our fictitious CEO went a bit overboard, but you’d be surprised how often these message-weakening phrases or terms creep into presentations. To overcome the habit of using qualifiers, start by listening to other speakers-these days they are all over the place-and notice how they use or avoid them.

You can even play The Qualifiers Game. Invite your colleagues, friends, even your family to listen for qualifiers in your own daily conversation. When they hear one coming from your mouth, ask them to repeat it back to you as a question, such as: You Think? It Might? We Could? You’ll quickly realize how often you use those terms. Challenge yourself to insert more powerful terms like “you will…”, “I know…”, “we’re going to…” into your daily communications.

For you advanced players out there, combine The Qualifiers Game with The Snapping Game, and let the fun begin!

Looking Confident

Another way that a speaker demonstrates confidence is through energy. A presenter whose energy is high, whose posture is straight and whose approach is upbeat, positive, and expressive is going to be stronger than one who fastens his or her hands to notes and reads without expression.

Energy makes a huge difference. It gets people excited and holds their attention. In a time where concerns are focused on negatives, such as how a recession is affecting the business outlook, energy inspires more positive “R” words like rejuvenate, rebounding, and responsive.

Energy also gives you-as a speaker-the opportunity to focus on opportunities instead of challenges, to deliver a powerful message that motivates listeners. Whether it comes across as enthusiasm or conviction, you’ll LOOK confident, and your audience will take that confidence back to their offices with them.

Here’s a tip for injecting energy into all of your communications: add a note to the side of your computer monitor that says “SELL IT!,” write “BIG ENERGY!” on top of your notes for your next meeting, or stick a note with a big smiley-face on your laptop before your next presentation. This quick reminder to yourself will make a big difference.

By combining an upbeat message (without qualifiers) with an energetic approach to your audience, you’ll inspire anyone. Be sure to both walk-the-walk AND talk-the-talk.

Let’s take a different look at our imaginary CEO. Same speaker, same suit, same room. But this time he comes out wearing a microphone on his lapel, walks to center stage, smiles and says:

It’s great to see you all here today. We’re kicking off an outstanding year for our organization. We will launch four exciting new products that will blow the marketplace away. We have a great team made up of the best people in our industry. Join us as we work together to make this our most successful year ever.

Which version is more likely to inspire you?