For the businesses that run online, Google search rankings are the deciders of fate. And why not? Almost half of the world’s population used the internet in the last year. According to a speculation, that figure is expected to reach a whopping 75% by the end of the year 2020. Marketing on the online platforms […]
Emotional intelligence is the ability to combine thinking with feelings in order to build good quality relationships and to make good authentic decisions. It is fundamental to leading a full, rich and rewarding life. Emotional intelligence is different from IQ – cognitive intelligence, and offers a different perspective on success and performance at work. Your emotional intelligence is your responsibility! How you react and respond to events is […]
“To be a successful speaker, you have to confront yourself, perhaps for the first time, and decide who you are and what you stand for.”
With unbridled honesty, I admit my prior lack of awareness of the true definition of the word “charisma” and its role in effective public speaking. I always deemed charisma to be a natural quality, something inborn and not acquired. While reading through the 1999 Harvard Management Communication Letter, The Ten Commandments of Presentations, I was touched by the statement, “All public speakers want to be charismatic. But charisma comes from having something true and heartfelt to put on the line in front of your audience. Charisma comes from the honest expression of emotion when something real is at stake. To be a successful speaker, you have to confront yourself, perhaps for the first time, and decide who you are and what you stand for.” Ruminating over these lines, I realized that the secret to touching the hearts of the multitude lies in being able to reveal one’s emotions, to truly immerse oneself into the topic being discussed, and to make audiences aware of these things.
This attitude of immersion relates to something an American Studies professor at Columbia once told me: “To truly learn something, one must feel it within oneself.” In the context of public speaking, as in writing, to truly communicate something, one must feel it within oneself. That is the only way to make audience members feel the same way and to build a bridge between the heart of the speaker and those of the listeners. That is the key to charisma.
But charisma is not easily attained. In my academic and professional life, as well as in my personal life, I have often found myself hindered from expressing too much emotion or revealing too much of myself for fear of being rejected. Especially when speaking to large groups or crowds, I would avoid statements with emotional undertones due to a fear of eliciting a reaction different from that intended in listeners. Such a fear can truly hinder the connections necessary to deliver moving presentations, and I am certain that I am not the only person who has experienced this fear. It is time for those of us who wish to inspire and lead to confront our self-constructed barriers, so that we can increase our level of impact when speaking to the multitude.
Reflecting upon the similarities between public speaking and writing, I have found that my most inspiring written works are characterized by true, unbridled emotional immersion into the respective topic. While an undergraduate student, I wrote a fifteen-page paper advocating for change in the way we view elderly persons in America, in which I incorporated anecdotes of my personal experiences with nursing home residents in Manhattan. I became so emotionally involved in the topic that I began sobbing from the personal impact it had on me, while writing the paper. It was, and continues to be, a cause that I deeply and truly care about (and that all others should as well, since none of us are immune to the effects of time and aging). Because of how sincerely I believed in what I was writing about, it shone through in my final product, and readers were aware of it.
To integrate such emotional power into one’s public speaking persona, one must continue to learn more about oneself and the issues one stands for. One must acquire the courage to reveal one’s personal beliefs to large groups of individuals. Most of all, one must be unafraid of facing opposition from listeners. Opposition is inevitable, and confronting it with courage only makes one stronger. Charisma is not effortlessly attained but deliberately developed.
During a recent trip to Beijing, I had the privilege of participating in a thought-provoking roundtable discussion.
One of the recurring themes that came up was making your voice heard.
How do you work with colleagues who don’t seem to value your opinions?
This can be tough for so many people. I’ve felt this way at times, and I’ve previously shared how I had to overcome my own challenges as a woman in technology, as an introvert, and as a new arrival to the US.
Workplace dynamics and uncertainty, as well as personal agendas, can all play a role. And these are factors that are outside your control. But there is something you can control: exercising good habits and finding what works for you.
So today, as a follow up to my last article on building a meaningful career, I want to share a few things I’ve learned about finding and using my voice.
Practice, practice, practice!
Make a conscious effort to practice your interpersonal skills in the workplace. If you have a meeting coming up, do a rehearsal delivering the key points you want to get across. Anticipate and prepare for questions that will come up. And then exercise your skills in a business setting.
You will only get better, I promise.
Tip: Slow down! Don’t give in to the tendency to rush when speaking.
Stand up for yourself and for what matters
Sometimes, people can be rude, whether they realize it or not. Regardless, this is unacceptable. Call out colleagues who don’t treat you with respect. Be firm but polite, and address the issue right away, if you can.
If you can’t address it immediately, chat with them in private. Be prepared to articulate the offending behavior succinctly and then talk to the person when you have your emotions under control.
Setting firm boundaries will help prevent perpetual disrespectful behaviors, enhance your relationships, and help establish your authority.
Tip: Confronting people is difficult. Role play with a valued friend so that you feel more comfortable.
Make it relevant to make them care
Most people, especially in the workplace, want proof that you know what you’re talking about. And to get them to care, you need to make the issue their pain. Take the time to collect supporting facts and metrics to clearly demonstrate the pain point. Then, once you have their attention, layout potential solutions. Stay calm, clear, and direct in your presentation.
Use specific, factual examples, and get to the point quickly.
Tip: Know your audience and what they care most about.
Be bold and confident – easier said than done, right?
One final thing I’ve learned about finding your voice is to focus on your strengths and be confident in yourself. Put energy into what you’re great at and go forth with boldness. When others see your self-assuredness, they’re more likely to have confidence in you and pay attention.
Tip: Listen First. Listen, absorb and make sure your contribution will be helpful. Then present yourself as the authority that you are.
Finding your voice in the workplace just takes a bit of practice and perseverance, but it can be done—and you deserve to be heard!
If you have insights around how you’ve found your voice, please share them below.
Your leadership brand is what you’re known for and how people experience you. Your brand is your perceived business worth (notwithstanding business restructuring along with down-and-right-sizing sometimes leaves us wondering why some people stay while others go).
Your brand is always on the move – positively or negatively
Your actions, decisions, and attitude drive how you’re perceived by others. Your leadership brand gets created in every interaction through how you show up for others and through the value you give. What leadership charachteristics are you known for?
Your brand is a function of who you are, how you think and what you stand for
Your leadership brand reflects your value proposition and the influence you have. Think about well known leaders like Richard Branson or Sheryl Sandberg, or leaders in your own organisation or network who have leadership qualities you admire and respect. What is it about who they are and what they do consistently, that they have become known for? Who is the leader you want to become?
What are you known for?
We each have a brand. It’s easy to forget to nurture and grow it when so much of our focus is on getting things done and delivering results.
Where do you think your leadership brand value lies? Is it going to position you for future opportunity?
A Forbes article stated that less than 15% of us have defined our brand and less than 5% actually live it. ¹
You need a solid brand to position your leadership potential
“It’s important to build your brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation is pretty much the game” Gary Vaynerchuk
5 ways to build your leadership brand
1. Be the real you
Only when you know you, accept you, respect you, and value you, can you bring all of you to work – without trying to be like someone else or being worried that you’re not good enough. If you don’t know who you are and show that, others will try and figure it out and probably get it (a little bit or a lot) wrong.
2. Have high standards
Keep your promises – to yourself and others – and come through on what you expect of you every time. Be responsible for your results and keep your ego and emotions in check. High standards don’t mean being perfect – they are simply behaviours you’re committed to, like, for example, being on time for meetings.
3. Develop your networks and invest in relationships
The more you can position your expertise, and add value to others, the more your brand will work for you. A personal brand is like growing seeds. Once you’ve planted and looked after them, you’ll be in a great position to eventually reap the benefits.
It’s also wise to have a mentor and find sponsors that can help champion you.
4. Do what you’re good at
What you do really well differentiates you from others and makes you stand out. Playing to your strengths will help build your credibility quickly.
5. Talk about your achievements
It’s a mistake to believe your results will speak for themselves. They won’t. You have to be prepared to talk about your accomplishments. It’s not about shameless self-promotion, ego or being arrogant – it’s about being heard and recognised for the difference you’ve made in a way that positions you positively.
Bringing it all together
Ultimately your leadership brand is all about who you are for others. The more you nurture it, as you grow and develop, the better chance you have of getting to where you want to be and futureproofing your career in the process. What one action, decision, or choice could have the single biggest impact in the growth of your leadership brand? I’d love to know.
Want some help? Toni empowers leaders and teams to play bigger and position themselves for future opportunity. Discover the best 7 ways to build your confidence, influence and impact – download this free resource at www.tonicourtney.com
Contact Toni at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tonicourtney.com
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