SIX STEPS TO A POWERFUL FIRST IMPRESSION
1) Be Yourself
Imitation may be considered the greatest form of flattery, but it’s counterproductive for rapport-building. Be yourself, or you’ll likely feel, sound, and come across as false and insincere. If you’re a great storyteller, tell a story. If you like to make people laugh, use humor. Be your best self: confident, knowledgeable and accessible.
2) Dress Strategically
Dress to control the visual impact you have on your audience. Clothes should fit and flatter the body. Use accessories to direct the viewer’s eye up so you can maximize eye contact. For men, that means strong-colored ties (red, purple) and for women, necklaces and pins. Ask yourself, “Does my attire meet my audience’s expectations, and does it project confidence?”
3) Set the Tone
A positive attitude creates a positive environment. Give yourself 15–30 minutes before an event to shift gears and focus on what you want to accomplish. An upbeat attitude sends the message that you’re capable and a great person with whom to work. Use music, meditation or physical activity to get yourself in a positive state of mind.
4) Be Interested—Listen to Learn.
Ask open-ended questions to get people talking about themselves. Give them your undivided attention. Face them directly. Utilize eye contact. Above all, smile.
5) Be Interesting
Everyone should have a 30-second “verbal business card” that focuses on the benefits of what you can offer the other person, or his or her organization, rather than just stating your job title. Of course, we are more than our work. So look for ways to build rapport through shared interests and experiences. These are the things that develop connections and capture others’ “desire to know more.”
6) Voice Tracking
Use your voice and word choices to send the message you want to convey. Speak at a moderate pace. Use action-oriented language. (“I’m committed to…” is much stronger than “I’m trying to…”) Also, avoid the upward inflection at the end of a sentence—unless you’re asking a question.
Remember, every spoken syllable speaks volumes.
THE SIMPLE TRUTHS OF BRANDING
You have a brand whether you want one or not.
Everything you do either magnifies or nullifies your brand.
Your brand perception is controlled by your customers, prospects, partners, media, etc.
So, you better manage it for maximum impact.
You control what others hear and how they hear it, so ask yourself:
What’s the right message?
What’s the right way to reach them?
When’s the right time?
Who’s the right target?
No matter how specialized your service or products are, absolute uniqueness is rare. Therefore, differentiate yourself by being first, more creative and/or most intriguing.
You’ve got to have heart. Build your brand image (and karma) by making a commitment to causes, charities or the community. People respond to companies that do good.
Get off the couch. Doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. Make a speech. Send a release. Volunteer your services. Something. Anything. Just do it. (Just don’t steal someone else’s slogan.)
Are you trying to get business or build a business? The answer will ultimately shape how you brand your business. (Hint: the latter of the two is the best long-term strategy.)
COMMOM SENSE INTERVIEWING
With the slight, but noticeable, uptick in hiring, employers are now accepting record numbers of applications. After they review the inevitable flood of resumes, they will want to talk to the candidates behind the paper. While a solid interview can bring you closer to getting hired, a bad one will doom your chances. Here are some ways you can make sure you ace the interview.
Prepare for the Interview
Winging it during an interview may sound like fun, but it is a dangerous interview strategy. Review the job posting, including the desired qualifications and job responsibilities. Try to find additional information about the employer and, if possible, the interviewer. Look over your application and be prepared to talk about anything you mention in it. Develop three or four points you want to make sure the interviewer knows about you, as well as three or so questions that you can ask, demonstrating your interest and thoughtfulness. Also, if possible, try to do a mock interview with someone who can give you frank feedback.
During the Interview, Listen
Every question from interviewers is an important one. What do they want to know? What are they not asking you? Answer the questions you are asked, not the ones you wished you were asked. If you need time to respond, ask for a moment to compose your thoughts. Keep a mental checklist of things you want to make sure you mention. If there is time remaining, take a few moments to mention anything of importance that has not already been discussed.
Be Professional Throughout the Interview
Although you want to create a connection with the interviewer, when in doubt, err on the side of formality. Try not to use slang and keep tabs on crutch words, such as “like," that undermine your seriousness. Also, remember to dress appropriately. Generally, regular professional dress (business suit) is safest.
Take full advantage of the opportunity to make your case in person. Interviewing can be a fun and enlightening process if you approach it with a sense of possibility, as opposed to dread.
THREE STEPS TO CREATING POWERFUL POWERPOINT SLIDES
Step One—Don’t Use PowerPoint!
Creating your presentation within the program itself will limit your thoughts to your ability to use Microsoft Office PowerPoint—which to most people means slides and slides of bulleted text. Instead, write a script. You may want to capture your thoughts by hand; there’s something about touching pen to paper that stimulates creative thought. Of course, writing your script using a word-processing program is perfectly acceptable.
Step Two—Write Your Headlines
Now that you’ve drafted the details of your presentation on paper, you can write slide headlines that capture the flow of your script. Take a blank piece of paper and write a one-line headline across the top of it. Repeat for each headline. Once you’ve written all of your headlines, tape the pages to a wall. Your headlines should create a story that flows from one page to the next. Also, posting the pages on the wall allows for quick editing and easy moving of pages from one location to another.
Step Three—Draw Your Slide Images
The sky’s the limit and no stick man is too ugly. The point is—get something, anything on paper. Drawing your slides lets you break out of the confines of PowerPoint. This is a good time to pull someone else in the room to help you brainstorm image ideas.
Now you’re ready to bring your presentation to life with PowerPoint. The headlines will be easy to type. The graphics might be more challenging—depending on what you brainstormed in Step Three. You may need to reach out to a PowerPoint designer. The bottom line—you’ve done most of the work, and you’ve just created a presentation that you can be confident will connect with and compel your audience.
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