In the first few seconds of meeting you, people are visually assessing you by your body language, your dress, your composure and your approachability. They are verbally assessing you by your tone of voice, vocabulary choices and whether or not you convey tact and diplomacy in your exchanges with others. Behaviorally they’re assessing whether you’re a good listener as well as speaker. They’re asking themselves if you seem reliable, trustworthy. They’re sizing up your assertiveness or lack thereof. And they’re assessing how relevant you are. Their assessment in all these areas helps to define your brand in their eyes.
You need to be paying attention to every little nuance from your body language to your attire, to what you post on social media, to your handshake, eye contact, posture, facial expressions etc. The list goes on and on. In fact it can be quite daunting.
It’s no longer just important to be a great presenter in a formal presentation setting. You must now be a great presenter all the time. You must be comfortable in your own skin and comfortable talking with others whether you have an audience of one or five hundred. You must be dressed professionally at all times. No matter how much you may want your nose or tongue pierced or have a tattoo on your neck, you need to first and foremost ask yourself if it enhances your professional image, your brand or diminishes it.
Your tone of voice needs to resonate with others, you need to enunciate your words and make sure your pace is understandable at all times. You need to avoid the use of slang, jargon, clichés and lazy language when you speak and make sure you have an effective vocabulary at your disposal. There are over 14,000 words in the English language and yet the average American only uses about 500 of them. Just holding yourself accountable to learning a new word each day would sky rocket you to way above average in just a year’s time.
Are you sending out the right non-verbal messages? There are over 700,000+ ways of communicating with our bodies and faces. What are your facial expressions saying? Are you fidgeting, making you look as though you are not as confident? Do your gestures work to illustrate what you are saying or are they just flailing in the breeze and detracting from your verbal communication? What does your posture say about you? Does it say you are confident, overly aggressive, shy or timid? Posture is one of the top three determinants of self-esteem so you want to make sure your posture standing and seated is working in your favor. Do you make good eye contact and are you approachable? Are you able to read others?
What do your social media posts say about you? Do you post picture after picture of you as a party animal or do you post items that will help others get a sense of who you are and how you want them to perceive your brand. Remember what you post today will be there for years to come. Are you posting consciously or unconsciously?
When you’re with others, are you focused on them or more interested in texting or the phone call that just came in? The key to creating a brand you can be proud of is to remember that respect and consideration for your fellow human beings and the world around you is paramount to your success.
Cadillac and Ford are both cars. They will both get you from point A to point B. They both have engines and perhaps different designs but it is in the perception of brand that Cadillac is able to charge so much more than Ford for their vehicles. Perception is the only thing that stands between you and the other guy. Make sure when it’s between you and the other guy that the perception of your brand has been made stronger by the choices you have consciously made.
Debbie Darling, ©2014 The Presentation Pros
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