Whether we like it or not, each of us is a brand. And as professionals it is vital that we not only understand how we want to be seen, but we control that message with our mannerisms, appearance and work ethic.
Here are some mannerism pointers:
Do you want to be seen as a confident professional? If so, stand straight, with your weight equally distributed on both feet. If sitting, stay straight, not slouched. Have a firm, brief handshake (but PLEASE, not crushing!).
Avoid crossing your arms; instead hold hands in a relaxed position, either to your sides or SOFTLY clasped in front of or behind you.
Want to be seen as open and approachable? Think positive, self-affirming thoughts and your body language will follow. Also, when you are speaking use outward and open hand gestures. And avoid pointing; it is almost always seen as negative and/or confrontational.
Avoid nervous or jittery movements. These are signs of low confidence and uncertainty.
As a bonus, here’s a tip for avoiding the receiving end of a crushing shake: move your index and pinky finger in a little. It keeps you in equal control…
To be seen as open, honest and approachable, a smile is your best friend. But, it has to be a sincere, soft and inviting smile; the kind of smile that radiates in your eyes.
Want to show that you are confident and interested? Then eye contact is imperative. Make eye contact, but make sure it is not a cold stare. Look away every 10-15 seconds to avoid awkwardness. Just be sure to avert your eyes back to your audience. Also, nod periodically and allow your natural, POSITIVE, expressions to shine.
Avoid Grimaces and funny mouth movements (i.e. running your tongue over your teeth or worse, sucking your teeth. And I don’t care if there is something stuck in it, it is still bad!).
Also, try to avoid covering your mouth, nose or eyes. These can be seen as gestures of withdrawal.
Want to illustrate that you are an expert in your field? Use a voice that is loud enough for people to hear easily, without having to strain or yell.
Articulate well, maintaining a comfortable speed for your audience (whether 1 or 1000 people) to follow, and feel free to pause as you collect your thoughts. Also, monitor the pitch of your voice. For instance, shrillness or nasality is normally irritating. Also, use various tones to avoid monotony.
Next week I’ll discuss the importance of appearances.
Towanda Long aka The Café Lady