2014 has come and gone… hasta la vista… arrivederci
So, you spent the year hiding in the back of the room, avoiding meetings, conference calls, and/or pretending to be fascinated by “uber important” text messages or emails during networking situations. Ultimately, you missed out on huge opportunities to advance your career or business.
I choose to see a new year as a new beginning and an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. Personally, I reflect and decide what parts of life I would like to reinvent. Then, I set my goals accordingly.
If your goal is to keep your cozy cube, keep being a good employee and playing it small in meetings. However, if you are ready to advance in corporate, blow your sales averages out of the water, be a superstar for your company, increase your earning potential by a minimum of $10k, deliver powerful presentations, you need a power strategy!!! Communication comes into play at this point! In order to advance, you may need to hide or lessen your accent or improve your communication skills so you can rock your 360- performance evaluation or network to make powerful corporate connections. Set a goal to make sure your verbals and nonverbals are instantly sending the message you want to portray. You might not get a chance for a do-over.
Don’t over estimate the power and importance of a first impression!
You never get a second chance to make a first impression…
The first impression is the lasting impression…
Perception is everything…
Perception is reality…
Within the first 30-seconds of meeting someone for the first time, an opinion is usually forming in their minds based on how you enter a room, the strength of your conversation, how you’re dressed, as well as what you say and how you say it. These perceptions are not always accurate, but once formed can be difficult to reverse. It is unfortunate at times, especially, when it doesn’t work to your advantage.
We live in a world of codes. A code gives you access to the next level or to a desired entry point. Believe it or not, there is a code to impressions and effective communication. In this case, we are referring to communication skills as a code to making connections and interacting with individuals from all over the world. Communication allows you to connect, develop a plane of understanding and commonality with almost anyone who is open and ready for the same thing. This is the foundation of code switching.
Code switching refers to the skill of learning to relate, interact and communicate with individuals effectively by understanding their customs, beliefs and language. Speakers we love have mastered certain verbal and nonverbal skills that have given them access and mass appeal. You can change your verbal and nonverbal communication now for powerful first impressions and more effective presentations. Master these top 10 speaking tips and bring in 2015 with a bang.
Confident speakers make and maintain eye contact during conversation.
Eye contact shows confidence, interest and trustworthiness. As a rule, if it doesn’t come naturally, try making contact for periods of 5-seconds before looking away to the side or upwards as if you are thinking. Try not to over do it! The flip side is if you look too long, your gaze could be perceived as staring, aggressive and offensive in some cultures. If you make and maintain appropriate eye contact during conversations, you set yourself up for a winning communication exchange.
A handshake is like a picture…worth a thousand words. Make your handshake firm and confident.
Keep that weak, limp noodle of a handshake to yourself. A weak or limp handshake gives the impression of weakness or timidity. Ask yourself… is your handshake giving your nervousness away? A little handshake etiquette 101 will help you to feel confident you are shaking hands like a CEO. If you have sweaty palms, use the old cold-water trick. Before the meeting or event, try washing your hands in cold water to keep sweat to a minimum. It is customary to use your right hand and make an up-and-down pumping motion. Make sure the motion is not too rough or too gentle…be firm. The rule of thumb is that a handshake lasts about 2 to 5 seconds.
Who shakes 1st? The etiquette is usually for the person in authority to initiate the handshake. When meeting a new person where that has not been established, look the person in the eye during the greeting and introduce yourself.
Express your thoughts by speaking in complete sentences.
It gives the impression of being unorganized when you do not complete your thoughts. If you don’t know what you’re saying, chances are the listener won’t either. You automatically come across as knowing what you’re talking about and easy to follow when using proper grammar and complete statements. Don’t cut off your words or sentences.
If your thoughts often get jumbled and confused in new situations, try writing out your main points and thoughts before a meeting or thinking in terms of bullet points. If you can keep it to a main thought and 3 strong supporting points you could be effective on the spot and sound like a pro!
Well-spoken people know it’s sexy to speak correctly… pronounce your words clearly
I love Garrard McClendon’s quote, “It is sexy to speak correctly.” Proper speech is linked to being perceived as attractive. Studies have shown that attractive people who also have the ability to speak well are in more top-rated and high earning positions. It may not seem fair, but this leads to a theory which suggests attractive people tend to get hired faster, promoted sooner and tend to earn more than their counterparts who have less attractive qualities. In short, attractive people are considered more marketable.
Use precise pronunciation of words to sound more clear and understood. Enunciating the endings of words can make you sound more polished if you have trouble with accented English whether you are from Massachusetts, Louisiana or China. Become a more effective and powerful speaker in one-on-one and public speaking situations by learning how to confidently enunciate and use your voice.
Communication is not a race… slow down
Often people speak more rapidly when nervous or conversing with someone who they feel is only giving them a small window in which to communicate. Then, there are those who by nature of culture or personality tend to be fast talkers. In any case, using a reduced rate of speech could help people better understand you.
A tip given to clients who stutter and stumble over their words is to discreetly pace yourself by using your fingers to set the tone and count your words. Tap one finger per word. The rule of thumb with this technique is to not speak faster than your fingers can move. If implemented properly, you could go unnoticed and avoid drawing attention to yourself. Be careful with this one if you have never tried it, you wouldn’t want to sound like a robot.
Make genuine connections by listening more than you speak.
Communication is a two-way street. It is equally as important to listen well as it is to speak well. Have you ever been speaking with someone and it became very obvious they were not listening at all? In a world of cellphones, tablets and social media, we have so much competition for our attention. It is smart and efficient to practice actually listening which is active, attentive and purposeful vs hearing. Hearing does not equal listening. You could passively hear someone speaking and never process or retain a word they say.
Listening and actually tuning in to someone gives them a feeling that their ideas are important, reduces the risk of information getting lost in translation, as well as increases opportunity for strong connections and accurate needs assessments. Think about it! Most conflict occurs because someone received or passed on the wrong information or message. Even in new situations, listening helps to make a genuine connection when you actually take the time to know a persons name and remember little details about them. When networking, don’t get carried away by giving your business card, elevator speech or “pitch” or opinion to as many people as possible. It looks insincere and one-sided to only talk about oneself.
Pause more. Actually listen to the questions and pause before you answer. More than that, you will learn more about the people you meet and know how to gauge your responses if you take time to listen.
Watch your language… No slang! No potty mouth!
I realize we live in a world where clichés, buzzwords, and expressions can be the norm. Some people even pride themselves in having their own lingo or fun-language, but standard English is still the norm in corporate America. It is best practice to avoid profanity all together. In general, make sure your language is appropriate for your audience. Be mindful of using slang or expressions. Everyone may not understand.
KISS…Keep it so simple. Avoid words you don’t know. No word remixing allowed!
In spite of what you may think, it doesn’t necessarily make you sound smart to use big words; especially, if they are pronounced incorrectly or used in the wrong context. Words used incorrectly can instantly steal your credibility. One word that could instantly rob you of your credibility is use of irregardless… Irregardless is not a word! At the top of my list of words to abolish because they make me clutch my pearls in shock when professionals misuse them, is conversate…Conversate is not a word!!! Let’s also be mindful when excessively using place holders and filler words such as, “um, like, uh, you know, etc…
Keep your language professional and easy to follow. If you want to sound more intelligent, show your skills and be more relatable, simply answer questions appropriately in an engaging and confident tone with relevant details and understandable vocabulary.
Charismatic speakers use natural gestures and nonverbal communication to enhance their message.
Keep in mind… you are always communicating. Whether it’s through your body language, tone and inflection of voice, gestures or facial expressions, you are sending a message. Your communication responsibility is to make sure it’s the message your P.R. person (namely yourself and internal compass) wants to put out to the world.
Appropriate gestures and facial expressions are important in adding character and passion to your speaking or communication style. Ever looked forward to conversing with a monotone, “stuffy” person with a flat or expressionless face? I didn’t think so. You are allowed to move your hands when your speaking but don’t over do it. Too many hand gestures can be a distraction. You don’t want to look like your playing charades, but you certainly would want to look like you are in the land of the living when communicating and dialoging with others. It’s okay to show emotions to match your tone of voice and gestures especially when speaking on stage and delivering a persuasive message.
If utilized properly, facial expressions and tone of voice will show your sincerity and passion.
Speak from the heart and be yourself! Passionate speakers learn to get out of their head and speak from a genuine place.
At the end of the day, it is suggested that people like to do business with those they know, like and trust. See your interactions as an opportunity to meet, learn about and converse with new people. Although important, if you put too much emphasis on the details, situations and words being “perfect,” you may sabotage yourself. If you are an expert or skilled in an area, let that passion shine through in your responses and explanations. Many make the mistake of rattling off facts, numbers and forget to interject their feelings, commitment or connection with a topic. When it’s all said and done, many are more moved by how the interaction or experience made them feel, think differently and the speaker’s ability to add a level of value to make their life better in some way.
As you prepare for an awesome 2015, you are now equipped with hot tips to help you start your year of power communication off right! Go forth and express yourself. Should you need more of a push, go to tips and guides for more information to help you achieve your communication goals. We realize that even people who are naturals understand the importance of perfecting a skill, so take advantage of individual or group training to enhance your speech & voice communication power strategy!
Happy New Year!!!