You can usually make a memorable impact if you do something surprisingly different.
This can be great fun, but may well polarise your audience into those that disapprove and those that think it’s fantastic. A good public speaker should be prepared for both types of reaction, including what to do if the whole audience disapproves! If you’re willing to take the risk, this will certainly make you stand out from the crowd.
Here’s a video of a couple who did something different on their wedding day. For the scale of the impact, just look at the number of views and comments – in just 6 months! For the responses, read some of the comments.
Happy New Year, one and all!
I’m currently ‘snowed-in’ away from home with little prospect of returning home before the weekend. Apologies to my Wright Time readers as this will delay the next issue.
Most people in the UK are currently ‘snowed-in’ with conditions reported to be the ‘worst’ for 30 or 100 years, depending which report you believe the most. We’re poised for more snow over the coming week which will prolong the chaos – chaos you would never get in more extreme conditions in Scandinavia or Canada.
Older and more vulnerable people are understandably concerned. Commuters are frustrated or stranded. For them the snow is ‘bad’. But for my 10 year old son and his friends the snow is great, given the opportunities for snowball fights, making snowmen, building igloos, and general mayhem. Photographers, sledge salesmen and hardware stores (for shovels) are also very happy. The snow is neither good nor bad, just subject to the different filters each of us apply – there is no right or wrong, just different perspectives.
Here’s one perspective on what snow is for. Don’t try this at home, but the video is awesome!
Until next time.
Here in the UK, we’re entering cold and flu season. Colds and flu are enemies of impact. They can reduce your vitality and energy levels, devastate your poise, obfuscate your thoughts and give you an irritating nasal voice. They are not good for rapport – people will naturally want to steer clear of the poorly you, even if you do manage to hide the symptoms!
So what do you do?
Well prevention is better than cure, so here are my Top 7 Tips for Staying Flu-Free:
- Eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. If you do need supplements, top up on vitamins C, A and E and zinc and selenium
- Exercise, but not to excess
- Ensure you get enough sleep
- Take time out to relax and unwind
- Avoid people who are infected
- Keep your hands and nails clean
- Keep your home well ventilated
If you do succumb to the lurgi, don’t be a hero. Stay in bed, drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest. This is the fastest way to recover, and no-one will really want to see you in your condition anyway.
If they help, take some cold and flu medicine or natural alternatives such as echinacea, elderberries, probiotics, shiitake mushrooms, or chicken soup!
In addition to your appearance and your body language, the other major factor which influences your impact is your voice tonality. If you want to boost your impact, master your voice tonality.
What specifically do I mean by voice tonality?
There are seven components of vocal impact:
1. Frequency / Pitch
- How high or low is the pitch of your voice?
- Are you a man with a woman’s voice or a woman with a man’s voice?!
2. Tempo / Speed
- How fast or slow do you speak?
- Are you a ponderous, slow talker, or rapid-fire, barely stopping for a breath?!
3. Timbre / Quality
- What’s the overall quality or resonance of your voice?
- Is it clipped and clear or smooth and resonant?
- Is it nasal, gravelly, brassy, breathy or husky?!
4. Volume / Loudness
- How loudly or softly do you speak?
- Do people struggle to hear you, or protest “There’s no need to shout”?!
- Which part of the body does your voice seem to come from?
- Clearly the sound ends up coming out of the mouth, but as you’re speaking, from what zone within your body does your voice seem to originate – stomach, heart or head?
- Does your voice flow melodically with a natural rhythm, or is it halting, monotone, monosyllabic and staccato?
- How much does your voice tonality vary – do you vary pitch, tempo, timbre, volume etc to maintain interest and/or rapport, or are the above factors the same throughout your communication?
7. Content chunks
- How much do you say between breaths?
- Do you break up your sentences into small pieces, or tend to run one sentence into another before eventually taking a pause?
Which factors you choose to work on will depend on the sound of your voice, and what your voice currently says about you. Two actions you can take immediately to boost your vocal impact are:
- Record yourself (on your Mac/PC or Phone or Voice recorder), be honest about how you sound – as if you were listening to someone else for the first time – and then practice out loud how you would like to sound instead.
- Notice the tone of voice of people around you. Do they have impact? What do you like? What don’t you like?
In Wright Time this week I’ll be featuring “How to get people to fall in love with your voice” which will include some specific practical steps to move you towards the voice of your dreams.
“A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used,to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.” Margaret Atwood
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One of the keys to personal development is Lifelong Learning (sometimes called Learning for Life). Lifelong learning will Boost Your Impact
Per Wikipedia, lifelong learning is the lifelong, lifewide, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. As such, it will enhance competitiveness and employability in addition to social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development.
One of the benefits of being in the personal development business, is that the research I do – the books I read, the CDs/mp3’s I listen to, the DVDs I watch and the courses I attend – all help my lifelong learning, as I distill the best information to pass on to my clients and subscribers to help accelerate their lifelong learning!
One course I would thoroughly recommend from both a learning perspective and entertainment perspective (a great way to learn) is Kevin Hogan’s Body Language Home Study Course.
There is an infamous rule based on the findings of psychologist Albert Mehrabian: the “7%-38%-55% Rule” which suggests that 55%+ of communication is via body language. THIS IS WRONG. According to Mehrabian, the conclusion that words account for 7%, tone of voice accounts for 38%, and body language accounts for 55%, only applies in the assessment of the elements of liking of a person who puts forward a message concerning their feelings. The equation does not apply to any other communication. HOWEVER it is clear that body language has a very significant impact on our impact! So if you want to Boost your Impact and/or Present Like A Pro then learning about body language is a must.
Kevin Hogan’s Body Language course is a home study course which goes beyond traditional texts on body language and not only provides practical steps to increase your impact through an awareness of your body language, but also engages you by analysing photos of other (mostly) famous celebrities to deduce liking, attraction, likelihood of break-up, lying, deception, honesty etc. other people’s body language.
The course is 4 parts:
- Two CDs on the basics of making a perfect first impression, building rapport and getting an edge through various strategies such as high impact greetings and where/how to sit in relation to others. Fantastic stuff!
- Two DVDs, mostly supporting what’s already been said on the CDs, but including an interesting demo. A little dated, but nevertheless useful!
- Five CDs to be listened to whilst you browse through corresponding photos on the secret website. This is where you really get the benefit of Kevin’s expertise as together you analyse the celebrity photos and learn to understand body language – from the eyes, lips, touching, body positioning etc – like you (probably) never have before. Fascinating!
- A final CD and DVD – the CD being a body language commentary on the collection of old video on the DVD. This is interesting, entertaining and unique in terms of both interpreting body language and understanding the impact body language has.
I thoroughly recommend this course to any action-oriented person interested in body language, and specifically if you’re looking to boost your impact and enhance your poise. Whilst there is other information out there on body language, Kevin’s practical approach and compelling expertise make this a cut above the others.
If you’re interested in purchasing this course, or not, and are just curious for further information on body language, then please click the picture below:
Kevin Hogan's Body Language Course
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I’ve just finished reading a book “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” by Robin Williams.
So what has this to do with Impact, Poise or Presenting?
This is an excellent book on “Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice”. It covers:
- the four principles of design that underlie every design project;
- specific tips on designing newsletters, brochures, web pages, flyers and other projects;
- how to design with colour;
- how to design with type; and
- what makes a design look professional.
It’s written in an easy-to-read, clear, practical style, with plenty of helpful “before and after” examples to illustrate the impact of following Robin’s design principles.
I recommend this book to anyone who would like to broaden their creativity, and make their publications – on paper and/or on the web – more attractive to their audience.
So what has this to do with Impact, Poise or Presenting?
What struck me as I read the book, was that Robin’s 4 basic design principles were eminently applicable to boost your impact. The principles are:
Apologies for the unfortunate, but memorable, acronym!
Let’s look at how we could apply these to achieve more impact.
How are you (or how is your product, service or presentation) different from others out there?
What’s your USP?
What “different” strengths, skills, experience etc do you have that you want noticed?
What different/additional benefits can you deliver compared to the average Joe/Jane?
Contrast creates impact.
Once you’ve made an asset of your differences, highlight them to the outside world through repetition. That way you’ll stick in their mind.
Another way of increasing impact with repetition is to make contact more frequently.
Repetition creates impact.
Is your voice and body language aligned with what you’re saying?
Are you comfortable with your appearance?
Is your posture relaxed and poised?
Are you acting in accordance with your beliefs and values, or are you acting?
Alignment creates impact.
How engaged are you with the other people?
Are you listening what they have to say?
Are you listening to their non-verbal signals?
Are you maintaining rapport by subtle matching of physiology, and voice tone and tempo?
Are you speaking the same language – using similar and familiar words?
Proximity creates impact.
There are lots of other examples, depending on where you want to create impact – at work, presenting, dating, socially – I’ll leave you to apply these principles of “impact by design” in a way that’s right for you.
Robin does have one more general guiding principle of Design: Don’t be a wimp! This also applies to making an impact!!
Research suggests there are three elements in any face-to-face communication – “the 3 V’s”:
- Verbal – Your words
- Vocal – Your voice
- Visual – Your body language
The key to Charismatic Impact is to excel at the 3 V’s
Your voice and body language are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude
: if words disagree with the tone of voice and facial expression, people tend to believe the tonality and facial expression. “Congruence
” (each V supporting the others) is vital for impact
. Lack of congruence, e.g. a hesitant, quavering, mumbling voice, lack of eye contact, fast blinking and biting your nails, just isn’t going to create a great impression no matter how fantastic, exciting and downright astonishing your message happens to be!
A further strategy for success
adopted by master communicators is the attitude that:
The meaning of communication is the response you get
So if your audience is skeptical, dismissive or annoyed by what you’re saying (and that’s not your intention!), then you need to be flexible with your 3Vs until they do understand or are convinced. It’s up to YOU to get your message across.
3 Quick Tips You Can Put Into Practice Today to Boost Your Impact
- Decide beforehand what you want the outcome of your face to face message to be and what’s in it for the audience, and then make sure your words say it.
- Speak clearly, and match the tempo and volume of the person you’re speaking to, or if it’s a group go with a moderate speed and volume.
- Broadly match the posture of the person you’re speaking to, or if it’s a group go with a balanced symmetrical posture, and avoid leakage (nervous gestures/expressions). Maintain eye contact around 70% of the time.
We learn by example and by direct experience because there are real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction. (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005)
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A empowering strategy for success is the belief that:
Everyone has all the resources they need to succeed and to achieve their desired outcome.
This is all very well, but what resources, and how do you access them?
Anchoring is a very powerful way of linking the positive feelings and drives from your past experiences, for use in the future as a resource on demand – for example to boost your impact and turbo-charge your presentations.
The concept of anchoring comes from Pavlov (and his dogs)!. What Pavlov did with his dogs was that he rang a bell and showed the dogs a steak, rang the bell and showed them a steak, rang the bell and showed them a steak. Then he just rang the bell, and the dogs salivated just as if they’d just seen a steak. Pavlov deduced his theory of stimulus-response from this experiment. The bell was actually an anchor. What he had done was to set up an anchor for the dogs.
An anchor is a stimulus which reminds you of events and can change your state positively or negatively. The stimulus will involve some or all of your senses (see, hear, feel, taste or smell) and can be internal (e.g. a memory of a presentation that went fantastically well, a memory of a peaceful view where you felt soooo relaxed) or external (e.g. you hear a piece of music which reminds you of a great holiday, or you’re wearing a “lucky” item of clothing which gives you confidence).
Your response – the positive feelings resulting from these triggers – can be captured as a resource to use when you feel unhappy or in a negative frame of mind, or in a future situation which is causing you concern.
Typical Resource Anchors are for feeling:
- That you can succeed in whatever you want to do
- Like falling down laughing
In Wright Time this week I detail how to create yourself a resource anchor for confidence on demand – but this technique can be used to provide you with any feeling you want on demand – including some not suitable for a family site!
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There is a saying in the personal development world: “The person with the most flexibility has the most influence”
By flexibility, I’m really talking about behavioural flexibility.
Why should you be interested?
Well, let me put it a different way:
To boost your impact, influence and success, ramp up your behavioural flexibility
- There are no resistant customers, only inflexible salespeople
- There are no resistant audiences, only inflexible presenters
- There are no resistant clients, only inflexible coaches
- There are no resistant board members, only inflexible business cases
By adapting your attitudes, states, physiology and external behaviours, you’re far more likely to elicit a change in others than by doing nothing at all.
How do you increase your flexibility (apart from yoga!)?
Here are some simple examples to sprinkle into your daily routines:
- Brush your teeth with the opposite hand
- Listen to your phone with the opposite ear
- Travel to work/school via a different route or mode of transport
- Shop in a different supermarket
- Eat in a different restaurant
- Play Tennis, Squash, Baseball, Cricket etc with the opposite hand (and get your opponent to do the same!)
- Stop yourself mid-argument
- Listen when you would normally speak
- Try different foods
- Leave a little food on your plate each meal
- Listen to a completely different style of music
- Talk to at least one person you’ve never spoken to before, each day
- etc etc
Behavioural flexibility is particularly useful when linked with the attitude that “There is no failure, only feedback”.
The person with the greatest flexibility will control the situation. If you’re not getting the results you want, do something else, anything else will do!
How flexible are you, really?
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One of the great tools which emerged from NLP modelling of people who consistently achieved their personal goals, was the notion of Well Formed Outcomes. Unsurprisingly this overlaps with the concept of SMART goals with which you may be familiar. My (slightly expanded) version of SMART goals is:
Measurable, Meaningful to you
Achievable, As-if, All areas of life
The secret of getting to SMART, and setting yourself up to succeed, is in the questions that either you or your coach ask. These are the questions that will ensure that your goals are well formed and that your desired outcomes are achievable.
i) State goal in the positive.
• What specifically do you want?
ii) Specify present situation.
• Where are you now in relation to the outcome?
iii) Specify outcome.
• What will you see, hear, feel etc, when you’ve achieved this?
iv) Specify evidence procedure.
• How will you know when you’ve achieved this?
v) Is it congruently desirable?
• What will this outcome get for you or allow you to do?
vi) Is it self-initiated and self-maintained?
• Is it only for you?
vii) Is it appropriately contextualised?
• Where, when, how and with whom do you want to achieve this?
viii) What resources are needed?
• What do you have now, and what do you need to get your outcome?
• Have you ever had or done this before?
• Do you know anyone who has?
• Can you act as if you’ve already achieved this?
ix) Is it ecological?
• For what purpose do you want this?
• What will you gain or lose if you have it?
• What will happen when you get it?
• What won’t happen when you get it?
• What will happen if you don’t get it?
• What won’t happen if you don’t get it?
When I coach goals, I always ask these questions. If you can’t answer these with conviction, then your goal is doomed to failure. If you can, then you will almost certainly succeed (with appropriate ACTION of course).
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