I recently attended The Professional Speaking Association’s Spring Convention and had the good fortune to attend a ‘Meet the Pros’ session led by Mel Sherwood.
Mel’s focus is on helping people to craft powerful pitches and to speak confidently in public. Her business is called ‘Grow your Potential‘ and she helps people who want to persuade with passion and power.
Mel’s presentation at the Convention dovetails quite nicely with my focus on how you can STAND OUT from the pack. What follows was inspired by Mel’s session as it largely amplifies the points I make when addressing the A (Appearance and Attitude) element of my 7 point framework.
1 – Your attitude
You want to avoid coming across as negative, arrogant or complacent. Better instead to evidence a positive and professional approach.
2 – Your image
As many people make instant judgements based on your appearance you need to think about the image you intend to present.
Mel points out that we should avoid tight, dirty and inappropriately revealing clothing as well as chipped nail varnish. I’ll add these to my list!
Mel’s recommendation is that we wear appropriate clothing and accessories, appear well groomed and ensure that our outfit is flattering. Think about the style, colour, fit and whether it is ‘brand aligned’. I suspect she means that some people might want to be aligned with high value brands; others with cheaper brands. Either way, congruency is important.
3 – Your Body language
Your body language carries subconscious messages and can undermine your credibility or enhance it. Again it’s important that it is congruent with your words and message. For example, do you want to come across as friendly and open or as reserved and very private?
Mel suggests we avoid slumped shoulders, fidgeting, too much touching of our faces and necks and excessive pointing.
Positive tips include to stand tall with your shoulders back, maintain good eye contact, use open gestures and offer the ubiquitous genuine smiles and a firm handshake.
4 – Your Voice
Mel’s focus was on helping professional speakers but her tips concerning a speaker’s ‘voice’ apply more widely too.
Many people will make assumptions about you based on the way you sound. For example, do you speak unusually quiet or very loudly? How expressive and varied is your tone? Do you screech in a high pitch tone? Do you mumble or speak in a boring monotone voice? These can all adversely impact your credibility.
5 – Your Words
Again, Mel’s emphasis was on helping fellow professional speakers. But again very similar points are equally relevant to all professionals keen to create a good first impression.
It’s important to minimise your use of ums, errs and starting too many statements with fillers such as ‘so’ and ‘actually’. Better to make good use of positive sentiments and to come across as confident in what you are saying.
As Mel notes, this is all common sense. “You know it already but are you aware of how you come across? Self awareness is key.” I agree. Get it right and you’re on a level playing field with many of your competitors. Get it wrong and you will undermine your credibility.
As I have explained elsewhere, your ‘Appearance and Attitude’ are but one of the 7 fundamental principles that will determine whether or not you STAND OUT from the pack. Get this one wrong and you will reduce your opportunities to STAND OUT, full stop.
Appearance and Attitude are at the start of the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 principles you can adopt to STAND OUT from the pack, because first impressions COUNT!