Presenting yourself confidently is a key skill to get where you want, not just for working mums. No matter whether you are starting your own business, are on your way to the top or are returning to work, Sally Hindmarch shares some of the best tips I have ever heard.
When I was about 23 in my first (and pretty much only) true sales role my 54 year old Managing Director turned round to me after a fairly poor presentation on my behalf and said “ Sally you need to be more confident ….. you need to be more like me!”
As advice it has to rank up there as some of the worst I’ve received! Although my MD certainly appeared confident, being more like a confident 54 year old man didn’t sound like the best idea I’d come across – what I wanted was to feel at ease; more comfortable or natural in what for me was an unnatural situation.
What I needed were some techniques that I could use to make me look, sound and feel more confident … and then I would appear to be more competent.
Unfortunately it was another 20 years before I met anyone who knew what those techniques are. And the people who I met are actors who learn these skills at drama school, so for the past 8 or so years I have strived to help people in business learn these techniques from our team of actors so that they can have more impact and come across as confident and competent whatever their role
I can’t cover everything in this short article but below are 8 key points that I wish I had known all those years ago!
Do you slouch? Or do you stand tall? Good posture portrays confidence and competence. As well as optimising breathing, it can also change how you feel about yourself – if you look confident, you’ll feel confident and you’ll be confident!
Where do you breathe? Breathing deeply in the bottom of the lungs creates a more supported voice. The vocal cords are relaxed and the voice is more in control with a richer sound, which adds weight and depth to the message and makes it easier to listen to. The increase in oxygen also helps the brain think more clearly.
Enthusiasm is infectious! If you’re not passionate about your subject then those you’re speaking to won’t be. Find something you’re passionate about – even if it’s “the money I’ll make from the sale”!
Smiling animates the face, warms the voice and makes you appear more personable. When we force a smile we bare our teeth and our eyes are dead like a lot of politicians I could name. For a genuine smile, think of something that makes you smile – a holiday, your children or partner, the person in front of you in their underwear – anything so long as when you greet them you are thinking “Happy”.
When you go into detail and paint pictures you find your gestures, your voice and your thoughts all work in unison – congruence. You have none of that feeling of “what do I do with my hands?” or “my thoughts just don’t match my body language and voice”. You have natural variety, are focused and are ‘in the moment’ when you have images of the things you’re talking about.
Tell it from their point of view
If you tell your story as an experience from the other person’s point of view, then they not only intellectually understand your message, but hear, see and most importantly, feel it. As a result they buy into the message more effectively.
The “so what” factor is critical. Not what you do but the difference you will make. Start from where they are now and show them where you will take them. This is the so what factor: the value you bring.
Many studies suggest the visual image is remembered longer. If you paint pictures and tell stories with your words the same thing happens. The listener remembers the pictures and stories. They then remember the facts associated with them and retain the information for longer.
Everyone makes mistakes but as the saying goes, when you’ve dropped a brick, don’t kick it around. If you make a mistake – say “YES” (mentally, not out loud!) and move onwards and upwards.
Self Confidence needs work but it is a trait worth working on and continuing to work on. I’m sure you have heard the phrase that life is a self-fulfilling prophecy: picture it going well and it is more likely to. Visualisation and the use of positive affirmation are 2 extra tips I suggest you start using because if you don’t believe in yourself why would anyone else?
Author: Sally Hindmarch from Partners with You has a degree in Psychology & Drama and a career in database marketing. She believes that most problems stem from poor communication and has spent the past 10 years helping businesses and individuals to sell more, develop their staff and collaborate more effectively through improved communication skills. If you would like to boost your communication skills, be more confident and more successful, Sally’s The Lemon Club might just be the thing for you. @SallyHindmarch; @TheLemonClub