First Impressions and How To Leave Them…

What does a great first impression consist of and how do we make them.

An impression is the effect an object or thing has on it’s environment after it is no longer present. An Asteroid leaves a crater, an artist leaves an impression in the soul.

Top tip: Be like the artist…

There are a lot of things that go into making the perfect first impression. Nearly all are under your control, or to some extent influenced by you. So lets begin with the factors you can manage.

Appearance – It goes without saying, but a well turned out person; who carries themselves with confidence and self respect will nearly always make a good first impression. See to it, that if you plan to meet someone or suspect you will, make the effort to tidy yourself up and give the best representation of yourself. Disregard this advice if your name is Mark Zuckerberg and just turn up in a dressing gown…

Social Rituals/Cliches – Another obvious, but often overlooked hurdle in the first impression rule book is the presence of a firm handshake or similar social gesture. The french offer a cheek and the Japanese bow. Different cultures and social settings call for differing levels of appropriate social ritual. If in doubt, lead with a handshake!

The HALO/HORNS – Within ten seconds of meeting a new person, that individual will have made several initial judgments. Based on what they see, hear and feel. A mixture of verbal and non verbal communications will be computed. Often to confirm biases, opinions or self held beliefs. This is a factor that has as much control as luck. You could be nothing but polite and respectful in an initial meeting and not be liked by another person. Solely down to their own self held beliefs and biases. While this is a rare event, we can have some control over this. The best defense against negative judgement in the initial moments of meeting someone is to push the exchange to about 80%/20% talk from you. By that, I mean introduce yourself and your reason for being there, then ask thoughtful and relevant questions. Always address them by their name in this initial stage. It will disarm them and completely sever any inference judgments the person would otherwise make.

Priming – Priming is a technique used in all manner of things in order to lubricate your mind and warm you to something or someone. In a social setting, priming is as simple as an MC introducing a performer. It could be a car company showing you images of exciting and freeing locations and adventures to make you correlate cars and freedom as mutual things, before showing you the price! In a first impression scenario however, being introduced by a mutual contact or friend, is enough to prime the other person. They will have no doubt been told good, positive and reassuring things about you. This bypasses a lot of the HALO/HORNS and/or unconscious biases being sought. Remember also, when you are introducing someone; a positive and light-hearted but reassuring introduction will suffice. This short but relaxed approach, gives a solid start point for their conversation to take place. Plus you will be seen as the very friendly, helpful, honest and witty person who brought people together!

Personal Space – This one is the single biggest ‘bad impression’ behaviour. We have all met someone or know of someone who is a bit too forward, over-familiar or inappropriate when in a social setting. If you are ever in doubt, remember the following:

  • Do not touch someone after shaking hands. Unless you saving them from a venomous animal… 
  • Resist all temptation to make a joke or comment that would make someone uncomfortable, awkward or blush.
  • Scientifically, ‘personal space’ starts at eighteen inches and finishes at four feet. If it is too loud or too crowded, take it outside or elsewhere. Trust me, no one wants to talk into your ear…

Your Legacy – By this, I mean the positive and/or negative memories you leave your acquaintance with. Having a short but interesting conversation. An exciting yet unfinished discussion or perhaps just a mutual love of something. These are all positive legacies that you can re-kindle. The person will be left with fond memories and hopefully a new connection they wish to spend more time and energy getting to know.

“I met this gentlemen/lady at the company day out at the races the other day, we spoke about X and I was blown away by how much money we are leaving on the table at the moment.”  – Leave someone with questions, they will come to you for the answers…

To finish, I would suggest that every time you talk to a new acquaintance, be confident that when you part company; there is a conversation or promise that the other person wants to fulfill with you.

“Leave them wanting more and you know they’ll call back.”

Bobby Womack – American Singer/Songwriter

For more public speaking advice, follow our page and receive weekly articles. Alternatively, please feel free to email –Will@lib-Orator.com for coaching and assistance! 

Employ a Little Empathy

How do we improve our empathetic muscles and raise our ‘EQ’?

Nowadays, we are bombarded with articles and business interest pieces that tell us ’emotional intelligence’ or ‘EQ’ is the new ‘soft skill’ to have. People with high EQ are this decades and/or millennial generations future leaders. It makes sense in essence, people who are more attuned and able to tap into another persons feelings will be able to leverage the mutual understanding and excel. Effectively showing someone, that you understand and recognise their feelings or thoughts on a situation will win over and earn the trust and respect of more people.

Firstly, we need to understand what ’emotional intelligence’ is… Essentially, EQ is a persons ability to empathize with others through identification, evaluation,  controlling and expressing ones own emotions; perceiving, and assessing others’ emotions, the use of emotions to facilitate thinking and to understand emotional meanings.

Simply put, it is everything that goes into your every interaction with another living thing. It can be recognising that your pet is acting differently, seeing your work colleague’s behaviour and presence become withdrawn or distant. EQ helps you tap into a world of non-verbal communicator and cues, a lot of the time these initial ‘clues’ are what your natural EQ picks up on, then you can interact verbally; addressing the situation or person and demonstrating a caring, open and judgement side. This is key to raising your EQ and becoming that empathetic person.

Read – Wrapping Your Head around Rapport

In my work, I would categorise Empathy into three different streams or rivers. Think of these streams flowing from a mountaintop and down to a sea. Put yourself as the mountain, the start point so to speak. The sea is the person or thing that is the subject in question. Finally, the three rivers/streams are the different flows of empathy working towards the sea. Each river has its own unique features, meanders and waterfalls.

The three flowing rivers we have at our disposal are:

  • Emotional Empathy – Perceiving and articulating that you feel the same feeling.
  • Cognitive Empathy – Assessing, formulating and articulating a solution.
  • Compassionate Empathy – Sensing/Recognising a feeling and articulating it.

These three rivers run independently at times, merge at points and can sometimes be non-existent. It is your responsibility to always have at least one river that you can navigate. Work on these and make an effort in the next conversation you have, see if you can pick up on someones feelings and make them aware that you have noticed.

Packaging our new ‘EQ’ skills into a ready to use tool box. We have to add a few extra tools. This will make the whole thing easier, and it will draw people to you, by showing others that you are a genuine and understanding person. Here are my personal ‘pillars of empathy’.

  • Stop Talking – People can’t convey themselves if you are taking up all the airwaves.
  • Be an Active Listener – Actually be conscious and attentive when listening.
  • No Judgement – Recognise and resist the urge to pass  judgement. *BIG TIP*
  • Avoid unnecessary interruptions – If it is of a sensitive nature take it to a quiet space.
  • Share responsibility for communication – No one wants to be alone in a conversation
  • Over-reacting or silly? – Understand this an issue for THEM, don’t write it off as ‘silly’.

Practice the three flowing rivers and remember to use the ‘pillars of empathy’ to aid in your conversations. All together, they will show people you are a safe port in the storm and that you can be relied upon to help. This goes for personal and business matters.

My friends laugh at me and make fun at my sometimes exhausting ‘soap opera life’. I am an agony aunt and a friendly ear to many people, in business too. As John Donne said, “No man is an island”. This still rings true today, no one can shoulder all the burdens, all of the time. It is essential that we offer ourselves and our time to be someones trusted and reliable confidant and friend.

“I believe that lack of empathy is behind many problems, and I believe that it’s disrupting our society. There is a steady decline in the willingness to be truly generous, and by that I don’t mean monetary generosity, but friendship and sympathy for others.”

JK Rowling – Author and creator of Harry Potter

How To Get Payed What You’re Worth

How adding value adds dollars to your paycheck…

It is simple in essence. You work harder, you get paid more. Right?

Wrong. You get payed whatever the going rate for your skill and what the market demand is. Heart surgeons are in short supply and are very skilled. Warehouse operatives are in surplus and can be replaced almost daily. Put yourself on the scale of skill and demand and be brutal with yourself. What is your current market position?

So how do you go about becoming the metaphorical heart surgeon of your field? Firstly you need to understand value and its relative nature. Everything has a value, however small or seemingly irrelevant. Like the saying goes, “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”. What you think might be useless might be useful to someone else. Understanding what the ‘other person’ wants is the key to adding value.

Value can be subjective, but if it is coupled with insight, experience and evidence it is undeniable. You want the final idea and piece of ‘value’ to be objective though. By doing so, you further demonstrate your ability and knowledge.

The aim of adding value is to draw people to a new idea or a way of thinking that is beneficial to them or the company’s bottom line. It could be to solve a problem the company has been experiencing, it could solve a problem that the company didn’t even know it had! These ‘pain points’ and areas in friction, might have solutions. You may be the person who recognises and resolves them!

A word to the wise, don’t share your idea or logical insights with your colleagues, someone always takes them and claims them, or drops you in hot water by making out you were bad-mouthing the hierarchy, going against the grain and/or shedding light on their woeful managerial skills – This is coming from experience… 

                                Read – How Do I Gain Credibility

The key to adding value is learning how to communicate effectively. Be clear in every point of your talk. If you don’t, you risk sounding like a complainer or just an old fashioned moron. Use the Lib-Orator approach and cause some HAVOC…

  • Highlight the problem/issue and any analysis used in the process
  • Allocate VALUE(S) by statistical evidence to the problem/issue
  • Volunteer a solution/practice or an entirely new system
  • Outline your new proposals benefits with statistical evidence (tests results)
  • Calculate estimates – Show how much VALUE your new proposal will deliver!

Be sure to field all questions at the end to ensure that no one is scratching their head! The point of causing HAVOC is to demonstrate your abilities, help the company and prove you have a pro-active approach to problem solving and show initiative. This adds value to everyone involved!

Now to use this golden ticket! but how? Well, there are several ways of going about it. You might be doing this by the water-cooler (is that still a thing?) or more likely, in the conference room or bosses office. Either way, stick to this format and you will be able to deliver your piece with total confidence like the true professional you are!

Like always, feel free to drop us a comment and Follow the Lib-Orator Blog for more.

Credibility – What is it? 

What is it and how do I get some?

It’s on amazon and you can get it delivered tomorrow if you are a prime customer.

If you believe that, then your quest for credibility will be a painful one. Credibility is a measurable thing. It has no physical weight or mass; but it is visible, it is felt and it is always hard to acquire but easy to lose. Amazon also doesn’t stock it…

Think of building credibility as a game of Snakes and Ladders, the only difference is that you don’t need dice to decide your fate. You can guide yourself around the pitfalls and traps, avoiding any losses.

So what is credibility? Credibility is a mixture of integrity, experience, judgement and knowledge. We have mentioned how integrity is key to speaking on numerous occasions, but how do we build the other traits up, in line with our already strong sense of integrity? Experience is simple… GO DO IT. Judgement is harder to acquire than experience, you need to be able to analyse your field, see trends, target opportunities and impart your predictions. You wont always make the right calls and that is fine, that’s just life. When making judgements, you can rely on your gut or the data. Experience will always aid judgement if you are someone who learns from the past. If you aren’t someone who learns lessons from past endeavours, you are doomed to fail. You will however, be extremely credible in what it takes to be a consistent failure!

The big key here is knowledge. Knowledge is your subject, yourself, even your experiences. It is the all-encompassing entity that permeates through the others to build credibility. Being knowledgeable in a field or subject takes time and effort, but it does afford you some credibility. After all, you know what you’re talking about, so people can tell you are genuine and not a crook. Knowledge without kindness is something tragic though. Knowledge is power and power without kindness is a dangerous tool. Sharing your knowledge and kindly delivering your insight to your field or subject’s enthusiasts is the ultimate goal of public speaking. A genuinely credible person is someone who is kind and connected to their field and their fellows.

The most credible people I know are well-respected, deeply knowledgeable, constantly learning and always giving back to their communities. They are consistent and have a genuine passion for what they do. One of those people is my father, he has demonstrated all those skill and traits throughout his life and now he is one of the industry leaders and specialists in his trade.

So there it is. A simple and not too hair splitting approach to build some credibility and raise your profile in your area of expertise.

 

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; and to be credible we must be truthful. – Edward R. Murrow

I get by with a little help…

How to Help Yourself With Notes

What do you use to help you remember your lines when speaking? People use a whole raft of aids and techniques to help them get all the words out into the audience. While there are good and bad approaches to this. I only want to focus on the good ones. That way you won’t be tempted to pick up a bad technique.

Before we start, I advocate the use of notes and cues. I do not support your belief that you need the entire speech written out on A4 paper. Reading verbatim from a sheet during a speech is the most boring and painful experience an audience can endure. Write statistics down, key personalities and important nuggets of information. Do not write the rest of your speech out and then reel it off while hiding behind the papers.

Cue cards and crib cards are my favourite prompt. That is all they are after all, a small piece of paper you can hold in your palm that helps you stay on track and keeps your mind focused. Just write a simple line or word that tells you what part you are covering and it will guide you in what to say, ensuring you properly cover the subject. Additionally, you can write in pauses and breaks to ensure that you don’t race off through your prompts.

Do not write on your hand. Ever. Paper was invented several millennia ago, by the Egyptians. They didn’t see an advantage in using their body to log information. Neither should you.

If you do not wish to use crib/cue cards, perhaps logging the same information onto a piece of A4 paper and leaving it at the lectern is more your style? This way you can step out from behind the lectern, engage with your audience without that barrier and return to the lectern in order to take a moment and get the next prompt from your notes. I will always say that using A4 is the safest way to ensure you have enough room to write notes and prompts without squeezing them onto a small post-it note and then squinting to see your own writing. If you are very expressive with your hands I would suggest this system.

 

I have seen speakers stick their prompts onto the middle of the stage so they can simply look down and get their notes without having to look at anything. The audience will not be able to see your notes if you are on an elevated stage. But if you are delivering a presentation in your company conference room, this will make you look like a moron…

If you are a subject matter expert and have delivered the same or similar presentations before. You may not even want or need notes. Even without notes, if you bullet point or headline your speaking points on your presentation then you can elaborate on each point as you go and seamlessly speak while adding more value to your presentation with your stored knowledge and confident abilities. I prefer this method as you can really be flexible and tailor your brief to different situations. You NEED to know your topic though and have to have a depth of knowledge that others are respectful and somewhat envious of. This approach means you can field questions as they come, add or remove information if required and engage more with the audience. You can even test out new ideas or techniques and use the opportunity as a kind of live test range.

The less words you can use in order to prompt yourself, the better. The goal is to reach a standard whereby you can deliver a quality presentation regardless of content or subject. By using these supports you can alleviate mental burdens and focus on the audience. Having a short game plan in your vicinity will always give you that ability to reference your notes and keep your speaking on target.

 

 

 

Capturing and keeping the Audience

What do you do once you have the Golden Snitch?

Excuse the Harry Potter reference, but it is an apt way of encapsulating what ‘attention’ is. Your audience is more than likely in front of you because they wish to surrender their ‘attention’ to you for a period of time. Providing you take good care of their investment and ensure that you give them value, insight and knowledge in an engaging manner.

People are probably told hundreds of life changing pieces of advice during their time on this planet. So why should they listen to what you spout?

I hope you answered that in your head with a defiant and self confident “because I am trying to help them!” You can try and help ten people and maybe one will be changed by your work. So how do you up the number from one to ten I hear you ask?

By catching and keeping their attention. Attention is pretty fleeting; and it can be focused when a person decides to invest it. It is down to you to capture this spark and then work the ember so it becomes a fully fledged flame. You are not stupid and neither are your audience, you know that in order to catch someones attention you need to interest them. So start with something interesting. A story, a fact, an anecdote; just about anything else that will be juicy to your audience. so they can’t resist but want to hear the rest of your talk. If you can offer this with an emotional and related connection, then even better. The human mind stores anything that has a an emotional connection as a priority over un-connected information. Anchor information into a persons mind with emotion, they will remember who said it, when they said it and what they FELT when heard it.

Once you have made your initial grab at the audiences attention, you owe it to them to hold up your part of the deal. Keep this momentum and attention by delivering your talk with passion and genuinely engaging content. If someone is nodding while you speak, their mind is agreeing with you and respects you. They aren’t directly saying “I understand what your saying Will”. Their body is leaking non-verbal cues, re-enforcing my words.

Don’t use shock tactics, unless you are trying to lobby the senate or congress into voting to go to war. You are not a Charlatan, present yourself and cause in a legitimate and professional tone, it will only let someone discredit you and/or your work. If you have to use shocking stories and images to present, ensure they are introduced and you caveat the reason for showing them. Legal presentations and cases are a prime example; a murder case is a deeply shocking affair. The use of explicit images and language are kept to a minimum and used only when they have to be. Take the high road unless you have to venture low for professional reasons.

So what do you use? images, stories, repetition and a central theme are all tools you can use in order to keep the audience engaged. You can’t keep your presentation racing at 100mph the whole way through, you need to give your audience a rest and let them digest what you have just given them. Images are ideal for that, they break the flow of the presentation nicely and give everyone a healthy pause. Stories give your talk a central structure in which to fix everything on to. Who doesn’t love a good story? Repetition is a more subtle way to get your point across, you can finish each part of your presentation and lead back onto your original premise or opening line, this makes people think more deeply and gives you more than one opportunity to push your audience to act. This is also like a sustained ‘call to arms’. instead of lobbying your audience at the end into rising up and executing what you have told them. Use repetition to gently ease them into it, then the call to arms big finish doesn’t have to be preachy and awkward. Go for a natural trajectory and finish.

The best advice I can give, like always is… You guessed it, test and tinker. Try and tweak new stuff and see what works for your style and your work. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what ingenious devices and tools you can incorporate.

The Audience and You

How Do You Close the Distance?

When you feel close to someone, you know them, trust them and can nearly always understand their point of view. Sadly, as a public speaker you don’t have the luxury of being able to develop such intimate links with all of your audience. So how do you maximise the time and opportunity in order to really leave a lasting impression on your audience?

Nowadays, it is becoming more and more common for business interactions and professional activities to be built on genuine and mutual grounds. This means that you need to know your opposite number like never before. Especially if you want to deal with them and hopefully begin a long term professional (and prosperous) relationship.

In speaking, you need to close this distance and build that rapport in a record amount of time. You don’t have to make an audience member your best friend by the end of your talk. But you want to have given enough, so that they feel compelled, interested and intrigued to reach out to you after you have left the stage.

You break these walls down, by using a combination of verbal and non verbal techniques. This list is by no means exhaustive, but you can see a theme and you can test out your own individual hallmarks.

  •  Your clothes should convey a smart, but approachable personality. Look credible and respectable without coming across like your a golden demi-god of your profession.
  • Introduce yourself straight away, state your reason for being on the stage but also don’t forget to say your first name, If you have a short version of your name use that.
  • Try and start your presentation with a story, granted not all situations are ideal. But a story give your an audience a journey they can take with you. Plus it makes things less boring!
  • Don’t stand behind props if you don’t have to. An open and close space between you and the audience builds trust and connection. Remember personal space though..
  • There are a plethora of language and writing devices you can use to spark the audience and make them think outside of the ordinary. Making your limited time much more memorable. (This will get it’s own Blog in the near future).
  • People understand contrast, so give them noticeable contrasts. show the before and after. don’t just tell someone the ‘after’ give them the barometer to see the difference and see the real results.
  • Welcome questions at the end. when acknowledging someone for their question, kindly ask their name. Then you can say ‘Thank you for your question Amanda, the greatest scientist in my opinion is Werner Von Braun.’ Incorporate the persons name and their question into the answer. It shows you are engaged and wanting a friendly exchange. It relaxes and encourages others, while really connecting with the audience. Play with this technique and find your fit.
  • If you are intending to stay after your talk, make sure you express this. People may be nervous, embarrassed or perhaps interested to ask you something but not in public. this opportunity is really a great way to network and offer more value as your time on stage may be limited.
  • Take contact details in the form of cards. Whether business or contact cards, they will give someone a physical token and reminder of your exchange.

I have put these in a kind of order of events that generally occurs when arriving at a venue for a speaking event or work related commitment. Sometimes refreshments and the ‘meet and greet’ take place before the talks. Be able to react to this and have yourself prepared for the stage as well as the networking opportunities.