High performance communication skills are often the difference between a successful, dynamic career and your potential remaining unrealised.Take President Obama. As one of the most elegant speakers on the world stage, he has not only captured millions of hearts by what he has to say, but by how he says it. His body and voice emit confidence and power. Had he stood nervously, mumbling his words would he have been chosen to lead?In the current economic and business climate we have been advised to tighten our belts. More and more companies are streamlining operations, retrenching, freezing posts and generally taking a hard look at who is valuable and who is dispensable. Make no mistake, when it comes to the crunch, organisations want people who sound confident, positive and resilient, people who look and speak with excellence.Now, more than ever, communicating your value, credibility and power is crucial to getting or retaining that job, not to mention getting ahead.People take seven seconds to form a first opinion. Which impression do you make? Is it unique, authentic and powerful? You believe you have what it takes, but what are you communicating in those moments that count? Right now, presenting your personal brand as dynamic and valuable may give you the biggest competitive edge around.You need to ask yourself how you come across in high performance situations, such as sales pitches, proposals, feedback sessions, negotiations, boardroom meetings or leadership forums. Body language, eye contact, posture, presence as well as tone, clarity, variety and the power of your voice are the vehicles for your message. They make more of an impression than the actual content of your words! If you sound and look nervous or lacking in confidence this will be your listener’s dominant experience of you, no matter how valuable your message actually is. After all, nobody buys a Ferrari engine in a clapped out bakkie body and believes that they are getting a Ferrari.An interview situation is a great example of where you need High Performance Communication skills. It is vital that you impress and convey your best qualities when you speak. Here are some common problems to watch out for in those crucial situations:•Excessive nerves•Breathless•Freezing up•Shaking, fidgeting•A thin or soft voice•Sounding high pitched or girlish•A monotonous voice•Mumbling or lack of clarity•Difficulty making eye contact•Lack of facial expressiveness•Lack of physical presence and a poor posture•A shaking or cracking in your voice•Rushed speech, babbling.If you ever experience any of these in high stakes moments, you are possibly compromising your personal brand and making a poor impression. Yet the solutions are accessible and the skills that can make all the difference are not hard to learn. Simply by understanding that your body and voice are the biggest communicators of who you are and what you feel, you can start to become aware of what you are actually expressing. More often than not people are trapped in limiting habits because they are not entirely aware of them. You can choose instead to express a dynamic, authentic self by learning simple and effective skills.Begin by getting real with yourself and take notice of how you behave in stressful moments. Do you feel jittery and anxious or dull and monotonous? Self awareness will give you a good sense of whether you need to slow down and centre yourself, or energise and enliven yourself.Here is a vital checklist to use when you are about to enter a High Performance Communication situation:•Prepare and rehearse out loud how you would like the communication to go. Own the material.•Stand up straight, staying relaxed yet energised. Tension is a major block to commanding communication.•Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Breath is not only a powerful state management tool for controlling nerves; it is also the fuel for your voice.•Connect with your audience: make eye contact and speak directly to them.•Allow your eyes and face to express your enthusiasm and passion.•Speak with clarity and variety, paying attention to the commitment and authority your voice can convey.You cannot control the global economy, or even your boss’s next move, but you can control how you choose to represent yourself. Don’t underestimate how powerfully this can facilitate your success. Building a dynamic personal brand is vital and managing your stress, body and voice are at the heart of it.For more information, Contact Us Now
Being successful at business is closely linked to being an excellent communicator. A crucial and often over-looked aspect of this is communicating the right message with your voice and body language. Without knowing it, they can so easily let you down!When I coach professionals on how to make a powerful impression it always centres around a fundamental key: successful business relationships are built through good communication. The more skilled you are as a communicator, the better you will be at connecting with potential customers or managing the relationships you already have.So what do you need to do to make a positive and powerful impression on potential customers? Here is a simple checklist of what limiting behaviours to avoid and what positive behaviours to adopt.Avoid poor impression indicators:•Slouching over with bad posture and low energy- it makes you look unprofessional and disinterested.•Standing over or dominating your customer- makes you look aggressive.•A limp handshake- makes you appear insecure and weak. A big no-no when greeting both men and women!•Bone-crushing handshake- makes you appear domineering and insensitive.•Poor eye contact as if you are hoping for a better prospect to walk through the door- it makes you appear untrustworthy.•Listening with a blank ‘neutral’ expression- makes you appears disinterested•Rushing your scripted sales pitch as if you are bored and want to move on.•Asking almost immediately how much your customer wants to spend without first understanding their requirements- it makes you look commission hungry.•Ignoring what your customer tells you and not bothering to find out what they may need and how you could provide them with it.•Don’t make assumptions about the customer before you have explored their needs.Adopt good impression indicators:•When your customers walks in, approach them calmly with an upright and confident posture.•Smile as you greet them- you appear friendly and approachable.•Maintain good eye contact throughout- you appear more trustworthy and caring.•Give a firm confident handshake to both men and women- it is respectful and gives you credibility.•Get curious about your customers needs before you try and sell to them. How? Ask them! Then really, actively listen by showing them that you are listening. This means engaging your facial expressions, nod, give them verbal feedback. This is a vital step when selling a product that includes after sales service and the potential of a long-term business relationship.•Go slowly- building rapport with customers doesn’t happen in two minutes. Focus on opening the sale and getting to know your customer a bit- there is nothing worse than a desperate salesperson who only sees you as a commission and is gunning to close the sale.•Ask how you can add value with a follow-up communication i.e. more relevant information to assist your customer in meeting their needs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Communication skills are vital if you want to succeed in business and sell
Are you missing crucial opportunities to stand up and authentically communicate your value? As pressure mounts, does your mouth feels dry, do your hands shake? Don’t worry, there is a way to perform at your peak when it counts.High Performance Communication allows you to be authentic in pressurised contexts such as public speaking and boardroom meetings. It enables you to unleash the expressive power of your voice and body to enhance your delivery. It helps you reach your audience with impact. And vitally you develop skills that allow you to react and think on your feet.Overcoming your fears and allowing your most authentic self to be heard is a crucial part of building credibility with others. The good news is High Performance Communication skill can be learned! And it’s a competency that gives you a vital competitive edge.Tip 1:Authenticity is key- you are far more interesting than anything you could pretend to be! When you speak, focus on bringing your best self forward to share your message. It’s not the time to demonstrate insecurity or doubt- we all feel it at times, but its important to deal with it outside of the act of speaking.Tip 2:Focus on your audience- it’s all about reaching and changing them with your message. This will help you get over yourself and focus on what’s important. By giving your audience your full attention you not only increase your personal impact and charm, but it also helps you speak to them, not at them.Tip 3: Breathe deeply into your ribs and stomach. Breath is crucial for controlling your nerves and centring yourself - it helps you feel and look calm. It also helps you be present and react to what comes at you in the moment.Tip 4: Put energy into your voice- Open your mouth and speak clearly and slowly with plenty of breath. Use the deeper tones in your vocal range. This goes a long way to giving authority to your words and raises your vocal credibility.
Speak with authenticity - top tips by Juliette Jenner
Al Prodgers & team volunteered their 67 minutes for Mandela Day at the Madiba C. School in Kagiso.Here are some pictures from the dayAl Prodgers, Ulandi Annandale & team!Madiba C. SchoolAl Prodgers gets to work, poser!The classroom we repainted
67 Minutes for Nelson Mandela Day
Useful small talk techniques
Speaking up in the boardroom, high-stakes meetings or presentations can be nerve-wracking. It can even seriously knock your personal brand if you don’t do it effectively. Successful professionals know that speaking with authenticity and passion is crucial in business.Knowing your value is not enough if you can’t credibly communicate it to others. Our best ideas can be overlooked if we don’t know how to express them with impact when it really counts.Here are four easy tips to help you speak more effectively:1.Don’t underestimate the power of rehearsal:If you have information to share in a meeting or presentation, make sure you are well prepared. Know your content as thoroughly as possible and take some time to rehearse it out loud. This will immediately show you where you are unsure or are likely to stumble. It gives you time to iron out the crinkles.2.Connect to the emotional intention of your communication:What do you want your communication to achieve- must it inspire, persuade, excite, inform or entertain? Its crucial you believe this yourself, otherwise you will come across as inauthentic.Then let this ‘emotional frame’ colour your voice and expression- get passionate about your message and express it. Communication with passion and conviction has impact.3.Warm up before you arrive:Your voice and body express almost as much as your words can. Make sure you feel alive and connected to your body by taking five minutes to stretch and shake out your limbs. This will help you free up your body language if you have been sitting at a desk. Breathe deeply to calm your nerves and pace yourself. Lastly repeat the tongue twister “New York, unique, unique New York” to warm up your voice and the clarity of your speech. Focus on speaking slowly and clearly, using plenty of breath. This helps add authority to what you are saying.4.Pay attention to your audience:Make good eye contact with as many people as possible. Speak to them, not at them or over them. Focusing on connecting with your audience helps you get over your own self-consciousness. It increases your ability to build authenticity and rapport. Without opening this connection you cannot impact people with your passion and ideas, no matter how well you speak.Developing speaking excellence is a vital key to unlocking career success.
Four tips to speak well for career success
My associate Helen Nicholson is a networking expert and over the years we have run very effective workshops together. Being able to initiate small talk is an important skill in being an effective networker and communicator. Here are some of her tips to develop small talk techniques:1.Get in a positive state of mind: Get yourself in the mood of gratitude and happiness in order to see great things in small things. That way you will talk animatedly and with passion which will allow you to catch the attention. Don't start off with a grumble or a complaint (Unless you are British, that seems to work for them), people have enough bad news to put up with so give them something to feel cheery about.2.Assess your environment: Pay attention to your environment and what's around you(e.g. supermarket, supermarket aisle, drivers license office) and begin a conversation around it. However, be careful about making very personal remarks.3.Remind yourself that if you start off by praising somebody, always be honest. People can tell the difference, and dishonesty will kill the conversation. 4.Be generic: E.g.: "Do you know where I can find the(whatever it is)","Hey I like your shoes where did you get them?", "Why don't you go ahead of me, you have fewer items than I do."5.Ask questions and more importantly LISTEN to the answers: For example, "Why did you prefer this brand over that?", "Is there another way to...?" Instead of closed "yes or no" questions, ask them ones that they have to answer with more than one word. Be careful not to 'machine gun' the person you are talking to with questions. Listen and respond to their answers otherwise you will come across as insincere.6.Don't stand too close or else they will retreat into their shell. Do not stand too far away, otherwise they will think you are afraid of them, or not talking to them. Generally, a little more than arm's length away is a good display of personal boundaries. Pay attention to your body language this will communicate a lot more about you than what you are trying to say. Crossed arms = Defensive or excessive pointing = Aggression.7.Stand comfortably on both feet. Do not fidget. Look them in the eye when they speak or respond, though do not stare for more than a few seconds at a time, also remember to nod and shift your weight don't stand there like stone or that will kinda creep them out.8.Go off on a tangent, small talk does not have to end at the topic it started at. Pick up clues from questions and answers and spin off of them. "That is great biltong, are you watching the game tomorrow?" [Answer] "Yeah, GO BULLS, you don't happen to know a place they sell fan jerseys and all that do you?"9.Laugh at yourself, but do not be the clown, and do not burst into hysterical giggles. Also do not only talk about yourself or mope about your day, but don't be a happy barbie doll either.10.Avoid Stimulants: If you know you are going to be having conversations with strangers and you are nervous, drinking pints of coffee will make you edgy and erratic.11.End the conversation with something nice. For example, 'It was nice talking to you' or 'Have a great day'.Contact Helen for more information: email@example.com
Useful small talk techniques
This is why we recommend and include Spacial Dynamics sessions with our movement therapist Thomas Muller, in our programmes. It’s a crucial aspect of becoming an influential and impactful communicator.Thomas Muller says, “Standing upright makes you not only look good, but helps you feel more confident too. A great posture is an expression of power and well-being. It helps you project a successful personal brand while generating an experience of self-worth. It’s all about managing your non-verbal communication, how you feel and how you come across.”And according to D. Goleman (Emotional Intelligence, 1995), it has been well established by researchers that those who can effectively read and interpret non-verbal communication, and manage how others perceive them, will enjoy greater success in life than individuals who lack this skill.Non-verbal communication is the story you tell with your body: posture gestures, facial expressions and the sound of your voice. It comprises approximately 60-65 percent of all interpersonal communication and deeply impacts the success of your words. But why do we feel more powerful if we adopt a more powerful pose? Some interesting new research quoted in the Harvard Business Review reveals what adopting a power pose actually does to our Neuro-endocrine system.“We can't be the alpha dog all of the time. Whatever our personality, most of us experience varying degrees of feeling in charge. Some situations take us down a notch while others build us up.New research shows that it's possible to control those feelings a bit more, to be able to summon an extra surge of power and sense of well-being when it's needed: for example, during a job interview or for a key presentation to a group of skeptical customers.In "Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance", [HBS assistant professor Amy J.C. Cuddy] shows that simply holding one's body in expansive, "high-power" poses for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds) and lower levels of cortisol (the "stress" hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss).The result? In addition to causing the desired hormonal shift, the power poses led to increased feelings of power and a greater tolerance for risk."We used to think that emotion ended on the face," Cuddy says. "Now there is established research showing that while it's true that facial expressions reflect how you feel, you can also 'fake it until you make it.' In other words, you can smile long enough that it makes you feel happy. This work extends that finding on facial feedback, which is decades old, by focusing on postures and measuring neuroendocrine levels.""The poses that we used in the experiment are strongly associated across the animal kingdom with high and low dominance for very straightforward evolutionary reasons. Either you want to be big because you're in charge, or you want to close in and hide your vital organs because you're not in charge."It does appear that even this minimal manipulation can change people's physiology and psychology and, we hope, lead to very different, meaningful outcomes, whether it's how they perform in a job interview or how they participate in class.""We are influenced, and influence others, through very unconscious and implicit processes," she says. "People tend to spend too much energy focusing on the words they're saying—perfectly crafting the content of the message—when in many cases that matters much less than how it's being communicated. People often are more influenced by how they feel about you than by what you're saying. It's not about the content of the message, but how you're communicating it.
My associate Helen Nicholson is a networking expert and over the years we have run very effective workshops together. Here are some of her tips to a successful elevator speech:When you get into a lift and Nelson Mandela steps in next to you, what are you going to say when he asks you, ‘So, what do you do?’ An elevator speech is a 10-second sound bite about what you do, in simple language, in the time it takes to ride up in an elevator.An elevator speech isn’t a sales pitch. It’s a brief introduction stating who you are and what you do so that you can start a conversation and develop a business relationship. It provides a ‘hook’ into what you do.Where do you start in order to develop your elevator speech?•Identify your strengths•Determine your niche market.•Find out what makes you unique.•List the problems you solve for your clients or your organisation.•Find a short story or example that illustrates a successful outcome that you have produced.What makes a successful elevator speech?•It takes less than 10 seconds to deliver.•It comes across naturally.•It opens up the conversation.•It makes your listener want to find out more.•It briefly describes what you do and how this benefits your clients.The problem is that our internal radio station in our brain is firmly tuned into ‘WIFM’ – what’s in it for me – when we meet new people. This prevents us from moving to the number-one success factor in networking: ‘What value can I add?’In my workshops I always show a picture of my children, Sabrina and Caitlyn, as an example of a classic mistake we make when networking. Sabrina and Caitlyn are my dream and not the other person’s. We need to move away from our own dream and find out what the other person’s dream is in order to be really successful networkers.Anyone you meet cares about what you can do for them.Do you sell cars? No, you help families stay safe on wet and slippery roads.Are you an accountant? No, you help businesses make sure that SARS doesn't get too much of their money.Are you in IT? No, you save companies money and time by using computers.Networking is all about the benefits available to YOUR TARGET MARKET.Contact Helen for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keys to a Successful Elevator Speech
Professionals often have a sense their communication could be better- more effective in getting them heard and their ideas implemented. But what exactly does this mean? I think that it boils down to three enormously powerful skill sets. They are not mutually exclusive and they enable each other: 1.How to build rapport- it really does make the world go round!2.How to speak expressively with your voice and body so your delivery matches your content- this creates real impact.3.How to give quality attention and listen to your audience so that you can better read and respond to them.This is what Power Presence and Speaking Excellence coaching enables you to do- but why is it crucial and what will it do for you?Lets start with building rapport. The Oxford English dictionary defines rapport as:(noun) a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.Rapport is about making a mutually respectful connection. You both feel it and this genuine sense of ease allows you to engage comfortably as you express yourself. You feel like you are listening and being listened to. Interestingly, you can be very different and in fact not agree or have the same opinion at all and still stay in rapport. That’s where the mutual respect part comes in. Once you've developed rapport with a person, they are far more likely to share information, connect you to others, or rally your ideas. And when someone has established rapport with you, you're likely to do the same. If you do not have rapport, even though you agree, you probably would not choose to assist each other.Building rapport is a skill that you can use anywhere. For instance, you can use rapport to:•Create a positive connection with new or existing colleagues.•Build good relationships with clients or suppliers. •Help you become a star networker.•Get support for your proposals and ideas.•Settle in easily with new colleagues or with your boss when you start a new job.In short, establishing rapport with people can open doors, create opportunities, and lead to mutually beneficial relationships.Although building rapport is best done in the long-term, you can use these strategies to build it quickly, if you need to.1.Most rapport building happens through non-verbal communication signals, before words. As our non-verbal communication accounts for up to 60% of what we communicate, this makes sense. We create and maintain rapport subconsciously through matching non-verbal signals, including body positioning, body movements, eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice with the other person. We create rapport instinctively, it is our natural defence from conflict, which most of us will try hard to avoid most of the time.2.The way we use our voice is vital in developing rapport. When we are nervous we tend to talk faster, this in turn can make you sound more stressed. When we vary our voices, pitch, volume and pace in ways to make what we are saying more interesting we also come across as more relaxed, open and friendly. Try to breath deeply, lower your tone and talk more slowly, this will help you develop rapport more easily. 3.Appropriate body language has great impact; we read and instantly believe what body language tells us, whereas we may take more persuading with vocal communication. If there is a mismatch between our words and what our body language is saying then the audience will more likely believe the body language. Building rapport, therefore, begins with displaying appropriate body language - being welcoming, relaxed and open. So focus on a good, aligned posture, being relaxed and centred in your body, keep your gestures open and expressive (No closed arms, hands in pockets, downcast eyes). Make good eye contact, especially when you are listening. 4.Listen carefully. You need to focus carefully on what the other person is saying instead of worrying about what you want to say. By really listening and giving them your full attention you already start building rapport. Reflecting back and clarifying what has been said are useful tactics. Not only will it confirm that you are listening but also give you opportunity to use the words and phrases of the other person, further emphasising similarity and common ground. 5.Be approachable and open to multiple view points. Carry yourself in such a way that is easy-going, friendly, and confident. Make an effort to welcome people into your space, even if it’s just with a smile. Be willing to hear new ideas and be open to listening before you judge. Cultivating the ability to be empathetic is crucial for rapport building and shows your openness to diversity.6.Use their name. Making the effort to learn and remember someone’s name always creates a positive impression. Try to use their name early in the conversation to build the connection. 7.Discover the art of small talk. This will help especially if you feel shy or anxious. Always look for opportunities that connect you with others—it can be something as basic as liking the same sports, driving the same car brand, or having kids. Focus on similarities, not differences. Here’s the Networking Guru, Helen Nicholson’s great 3 step Small Talk Technique: Step 1. OBSERVE then Step 2. ASK and finally Step 3. REVEAL. For example: “The weather is growing chilly, it really feels like autumn is here” (observe). “ What do you love about autumn?” (ask) gets the conversation going. Finally you also need to reveal something- “Autumn is my favourite season, I love getting my winter coats and boots out!” If you use these three steps you can have a conversation about anything!8.Come from authenticity and self-esteem. If you have self-esteem and confidence in your expertise, it’s much easier to focus on connecting with someone else. And focussing on the other allows you to stop worrying about you! We all have insecurities, we are all in a process, so get over it and focus instead on being curious about the other person. It’s very liberating to accept yourself in the moment and pay attention to someone else.When your non-verbal and verbal behaviours work together to maximize the impact of your communication you have a better chance of coming across as genuine and building rapport. Its also useful to ask for feedback to better understand how you come across.If you feel you would like to enhance your communication skill and increase your impact professionally and personally, check out our Speaking Excellence coachingoptions and contact usfor a personalised assessment.
10 Key Attributes of Power Presence to revitalize you!People who have a powerful presence are adept at handling their anxiety and performing at their best in high-pressure environments. They know how to channel their nerves into ‘performance energy’ when it really counts. It also helps them build a powerful connection to their audience when presenting or speaking in groups, paving the way for generating a magnetic personal brand.Power Presence is all about mobilising and activating people. Your words begin to count, your speech to influence and lead people. As you engage better with others, you start to embrace opportunities to stand up and be powerful, instead of avoiding the ‘limelight’. And opportunities create more connection and more opportunities….But what exactly is Power Presence?It’s all about de-cluttering! You make use of skills and self-awareness that help you release inhibiting and unconscious behaviours and body language, usually generated by insecurity and nerves. Instead, you replace them with confident and credible behaviours and cues that support or compliment your communication. It has a direct and potent practical application: Power Presence is skill-based and you can learn it!What are the 10 Key Attributes of Power Presence?1)Great Posture- you ‘own’ the space with confidence and status.2)Open and expressive body language-your gestures compliment your words, free of nervous clutter.3)Good eye contact- you connect and engage your audience by speaking ‘to’ them, not ‘at’ them.4)Centering- the ability to self-regulate, be present and give others your full quality attention.5)Clear and focused thinking on your feet- overcoming your fear of failure in the moment.6)A warm and dynamic voice- that carries authority and is interesting to listen to.7)Clear and articulate speech- allowing sound and words to impact and touch your audience.8)Pacing and pause- the ability to hold a pause and speak energetically without rushing.9)Passion and conviction- how to connect it to your message and share it.10)Be authentic- reveal your true self while you lead with persuasive words.So, what one thing could you do differently today to bring your best self forward? After all, it’s a career game-changer, just in time for spring!