The institute of public speaking is a Boston based international public speaking training organization. We live and breath educating others on the skills of public speaking, leadership and communication.
Public speaking can be a difficult skill to master but its far from insurmountable. One of the key issues we see with the 1000’s of students we have trained in our public speaking and leadership courses is a lack of awareness of body language fundamentals. Herein we’ll explore some of the consistent body language mistakes students make and what you can do instead to feel more confident, speak more effectively and own the stage.
Crossing the arms is a big body language mistake for speakers and leaders. When we communicate in any capacity with our arms crossed it conveys a wide variety of potentially negative messages to our audience/listeners. Unfortunately, it sends messages such as: we are feeling insecure, we are resistant to others ideas, or even that we are feeling inadequate. No matter our intent of this body language expression, we still should not display it. If we find ourselves with arms crossed we should immediately “open up” our body language by placing our arms down at our sides. We should show a confident, upright and open stance grounded by our feet shoulder width apart. This posture and body language speaks to our what our internal state should be: calm, focused and self-assured. It is confident, open and ready to deliver a successful speech or communication.
Limited Body Language ‘Vocabulary’
Another mistake novice speakers make is that they don’t explore the full range of body language they can deliver in their speeches. For example, student may have learned to use their hands and gestures to their speeches but stand motionless and deliver without facial expressions. We should instead think of body language as a full range of expressions akin to a vocabulary that should be a part of our successful communications. We should always think about how we can add these many type of non verbals to our speeches and practice them during our speech development stage.
Not Minding Your Face
Most novice speakers forget to check in with a critical body language aspect of their delivery: their face. The face is most often the focal point of our audience when we are delivering our message. Our face and its expressions play a key role in communicating our message. We should be very mindful of what our ‘resting face’ says to the audience. Is our resting face welcoming and friendly or tired and anxious? We should be aware that this ‘face’ has the ability to change the audiences reception of us and our message. We should be aware that showing a relaxed, positive and friendly resting face will only be an advantage to us.
When we feel nervous or anxious we often express it through our non-verbal communication. Unfortunately fidgeting is another body language expression which does little to aid our speaking outcomes. These unconscious non verbal expressions often come in the form of touching the nose or ears, playing with the hair or even nail biting. All of these non verbals do a disservice to our message and its reception. Fidgeting distracts our audience from our message and has no place in our speeches.
Instead of fidgeting, we should get in a calm focused state of mind before we speak by practicing one of many scientifically proven methods we have discussed in previous posts. Additionally, we should deliver our body language with the same intention and precision that we put into developing the content of our speech. Recording and reviewing our performance practice is a prefect way to become more aware of this.
Lack of Presence
Presence is vital for successful speaking and leadership roles. For many, the non verbals they deliver don’t communicate a congruent message that they intend. In this case, you can think of presence as a holistic measure of our non verbal delivery, or the sum of our body language communication. My definition differs from the one you might assume. Presence in this case means a few things:
Projection of ease, poise and self-assured confidence.
State of being fully vested in the moment and deliver at your very best.
Convening this confidence presence is critical to connecting with an audience in several ways.
Open, relaxed body language conveys a sense of presence. Our posture or how we hold our body also ‘speaks’ to our audience. We should stand upright and confident, showing we respect ourselves and hope our audience will connect with us and our message. Smiling is part of this non-verbal message to our audience that we are projecting a powerful and positive presence. Smiling sends a positive cue to our audience, communicates our openness, and puts our audience in a positive state of mind. Lastly, our state of mind should be focus on the ‘now’. Being fully invested in the moment will dramatically improve your performance and delivery. Utilizing presence will mean that your body language is conscious, deliberate and matches your message. With presence, your message and body language will on target and your attention and focus will bring you speaking success.
So try these out and you’ll see better speaking & leadership results. While this is by no means an exhaustive list it will have you starting down the path of better body language and better speaking outcomes. If you found this post helpful, please join our newsletter. As always, please leave any comments or questions below.
Ever wondered how to close a speech? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Closing your speech with confidence, vigor and enthusiasm can mean the difference between a powerful impression or the lack there of. Many speeches fall flat due to their final lackluster close. Just like a speech intro cements the perception of the speaker (and her message) in the minds of the audience, so does the closing. Herein, we’ll explore a few examples of what not to do in our first part of our series of how to close a speech. Some of the common mistakes novice speakers make are the following:
Lackluster ‘Thank You’
Many novice public speakers will power through their speech and deliver successfully only fizzle out at end with a lack luster and hackneyed closing statement. This is the verbal equivalent of get all the way to the pinnacle and walk away from it. They deliver a lack luster ‘Thank You’ in near monotone, rather than a powerful closing statement, call to action or an engaging story. It’s fine to say ‘thank you’ but it shouldn’t be your final words. Closing in this way does a disservice to our speech and message and should be avoided.
Question and answer sessions are sometimes erroneously relegated to the end of a speech. This is problematic on multiple levels. Q&A at the end of a speech leads to a less than successful closure to what otherwise would be a successful speech. When we close with Q&A, we don’t focus the audiences attention on our call to action or main point. We don’t get to make statements about what we want them to understand from our speech. Instead, we meander through the waters of the subject we are presenting, without a key objective being verbalized. Instead, Q&A should be done throughout the speech as its a perfect opportunity to engage the audience and still allow us to have a powerful closing.
Missing a Call to Action
Every speech has a critical point which the audience should be able to grasp with minimal effort. This call to action should be a the takeaway, message or idea from your speech that your audience will gain. In fact, it should be so clear that if asked these audience members a year later they would remember it. If we don’t make this call to action clear, we leave our audience with doubts or confusion over our message and intent.
Failure to Plan/Prepare
Our closing, (just like our opening) is a critical element to a successful speech. It is among the parts of a speech where we should prepare our content carefully and practice it. A closing isn’t something we should ‘wing it’ or do without preparation. It’s something we should sit down, think through, write out, edit and rehearse in front of a recording device (smartphone, webcam, etc.). If there are any parts of our speech that we must practice it is our opening and our closing. Most novice speakers attempt to ‘wing it’ and are perplexed when it doesn’t get the audience reception they expect. Instead, plan for success and you’ll leave your audience in awe.
No Clear Ending
Many beginning speakers make the mistake of not making it crystal clear they have even ended their speech. When they do come to the end of their speech they don’t show it in body language, their voice or indicate it in their message. They leave the audience wondering if its a conclusion or if they are continuing on to a new topic. Don’t leave your audience wondering or confused. Instead be clear with your message, purposeful in your delivery and leave them with a communication that will resonate and be memorable.
After more than 15 years and 10’s of thousands of happy student – we’ve seen it all. We hope this short post will help you improve your closings. Hopefully these few examples (of the many) will get you thinking and planning for successful closings. Don’t let these mistakes hold you back from the success you so deserve. You should own your own voice, message and the stage. If you avoid these mistakes you’ll have better closings and speaking outcomes. As always, please leave comments and questions below or contact us directly. You got this, now own the stage and close powerfully and persuasively!
Public speaking involves uncertainty. You can never be sure of how an audience will receive you or your message. There are times when your delivery is powerful but yet still you can’t seem to connect with your audience. As a speaker these kinds of challenges are normal and will happen regardless of your delivery, content or message. We have to accept the fact that we must deal with audiences that are less than receptive to our communication & deliver regardless. Herein we’ll explore some truisms that help everyone, from beginner to expert – deal with a difficult audience.
It’s Not About You
When we get up and speak, we do something that requires social bravery. It also requires that we silence our inner critic and focus on delivering our message. Any negative reception by an audience should be taken with a grain of salt. We should remain singularly focused on maximizing the delivery of our message and not our audience’s (or perceived) judgment of us as a person. We, as speakers, should minimize our investment in this type of ego driven thinking. Instead, focus on the delivery of your message.
Mind Audience Body Language
Body language is a key element of human communication. Novice speakers are often are so wrapped up in the anxiety, self doubt that they forget to ‘listen with their eyes’ or watch the body language of the audience. If we see an audience that is on the verge of sleeping, showing facial expressions of doubt or distrust we should heed these signs. Try to read your audience and further engage with them in the following ways (to name a few).
Engage Your Audience
Many new public speakers tend to look at public speaking as a one way endeavor. They erroneously perceive that the audience is simply in attendance to quietly listen and not engage. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We should look at public speaking as we do a conversation. We should engage the audience to be involved with questions so they feel they are a part of this ongoing communication. You’ll notice the audience will vest more in your communication when you actively involve them.
Smile & Show Confidence
Regardless of audience reception we have a singular focus as public speakers of successfully delivering our message. If we are in positions where we may have resistance to new ideas (or change) we will have to work extra hard to get through to our audience. Part of successful speaking is not letting these sorts of challenges deter us. We should be driven by confidence, self-esteem and show it as communicators. Audiences should see this confidence and poise in our body language and hear it in our voice. Show perseverance and resilience and you will succeed.
Learn from Adversity
Our unwavering commitment to ourselves and our message should be unshakable. If we see in audience body language and hear in their questions that our speech or presentation just isn’t cutting it, we should find out why. Get feedback from members of the audience at the end of your speech can be a powerful learning opportunity. We always have opportunities to learn and improve but we must embrace them and only then will be see progress in our speaking outcomes.
What’s your experience? Have you had a difficult audiences that simply couldn’t connect with your message? As always, please do leave your comments and insights below.
Beginning public speakers often exhibit the bad habit of utilizing filler words (um, ah, like, so, you know, etc.) while speaking. Herein, we’ll explore why these non-words rarely serve your message and should be minimized (if not removed entirely.) In our public speaking and leadership training classes and coaching we get lots of questions regarding filler words. Our public speaking students ask: Should we never use them and consider it a catastrophic failure if we accidently do? Should we simply be less formal and use filler words as we might in regular speech? Fact is, speakers should learn to minimize filler words because it does affect the reception and effectivity of your message. A habit of overusing these insignificant words will have a definitively negative affect your speaking outcomes. Let’s explore why we should eliminate these meaningless, distracting words from our communications.
Words Without Meaning
Filler words do not have any additive power in our communications. They might as well be considered non-words or gibberish. If they add no meaning, value or weight to our communication they should not be a part of it. When speaking or in a leadership situation, we should be focused on the efficiency and efficacy of our communication. Filler words do nothing positive and are best left out of our communications.
We Distract Our Listeners
Overuse and abuse of filler words leaves our audience unable to focus on our message. Anything that keeps us from our singular focus of successfully delivering our message should be left by the wayside. Acknowledging that audiences have rather short attention spans and less than optimal listening patterns it makes sense to be focused in our word choice.
Other’s Judge Us
Others judge us far too frequently. As a result, we should make every effort to minimize any use of filler words. Unfortunately, our audience make assumptions based upon external factors such as our facial expression, body language, voice, the words we use and many other attributes. All happens in a blink of eye or a misplace “um or ah” and these new friends (or sometimes unfortunate foes) assume they have ‘sized us up’.
Perfection should be no one’s goal because it doesn’t exist and isn’t realistic. Rather, we should aim to minimize if not eliminate these filler words from our communications repertoire. We hope you now understand why filler words are non-words and don’t deserve any prevalence in our speech delivery. Have you got um, ahh-itus? We can help. Removing these meaningless words from your communications will only make you a better speaker and leader. Feel free to leave a question or comment below and continue the conversation.
Storytelling can be a powerful & compelling tool for today’s leaders and public speakers. Stories can help you entertain, influence and inspire an audience much more effectively than facts or figures. A well delivered story can leave a positive lifelong impression, get you the sale or venture capital you’ve been seeking or even change the world. Whether you are a seasoned leader, a speaker or fledgling startup — stories can breathe life into your communications. Here we’ll explore some of the fundamental characteristics of what makes storytelling so powerful for speakers, leaders and anyone under the sun.
Emotions Move Your Audience
Emotions are always an essential ingredient to successful story telling. We connect with the humanness of another’s experience, we relate to it. Ask yourself, if what you deliver in your speech or presentation will rise the emotions you’d like to see the audience to experience. This emotional experience (or experiences) should build audience anticipation and have them hanging on your every word.
Our stories should build anticipation in the audience from the very beginning. Like our favorite TV shows always go for commercial break just before a cliffhanger. So too, our stories should edge our audience toward an intended call to action or key point. They should lead the audience along our intended storyline while keeping them on the edge of their seat. Our stories don’t have to be exactly chronological, they can instead be told in any order to help build anticipation of our fundamental call to action or fundamental message.
Call to Action
Our call to action is our fundamental takeaway we’d like an audience to remember delivered through the lens of our story. It’s what do we want them to do, say or think as a result of our speech or presentation Our call to action is our takeaway, or message they should remember. Our call to action should be evident and bring our audience to the desired conclusion through our authentic, relatable, impactful story.
Stories should be about people, their experience or something the audience can relate to. You should be able to answer the questions:
Can the audience see, feel and experience the story from their own perspective?
Do you understand your audience demographic?
What are the needs, wants and desires of your audience
If you can answer these questions you’ll be able to construct stories that we relatable and effective no matter the aim of your speech or presentation. In the end we want the audience to feel we are speaking directly to them as if an intimate one on one conversation. If we are relatable and have a well-developed story, this will be evident in audience reaction. If you’re using a story correctly you’ll see smiling faces, eye contact and engaged facial expressions. If not, you’ll experience downward gazes, smartphone activity and lethargic sleepy body language.
We can only create a proper connection with the audience if we are truly authentic. This cannot be faked. Authenticity means we show ourselves as who we are — not our idealized selves. Being the unique authentic person, you are as a speaker/leader will let your story shine. Bearing your soul will breed trust and respect all around you. Others will see you as perfectly imperfect and respect you for having the bravery to express yourself with honesty. This will build rapport and relationship with any audience and mean a positive reception of your message. You are perfectly imperfect, realistically show it and your stories will have compelling resonance with your audience.
Vulnerability builds rapport and relatability. Introducing our own vulnerability does not make us weak, in fact it shows quite the opposite. Let the audience know about your challenges, mistakes and even failures. This is very powerful because it is a raw and relatable human experience. Most people struggle with self-confidence, imposter syndrome and even deeply challenging failures. Those that claim they have not known struggle, pain or failure are not interesting to most. Truth be told, being vulnerable shows, you are human, fallible, and most importantly — relatable.
Bring it to Life
Use as much of the 5 senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch) as possible — they need to experience it as if they LIVED it. Effective storytelling makes the audience experience what you describe in your story. This means we need to deliver with effective body language powerful, dynamic vocal delivery and palpable charisma. Our word choice matters significantly as it will often bring vitality to our story and its intended outcome.
Think from the perspective of creating a movie in the audiences’ mind by conveying the 5 senses to them while you deliver the story itself. Set the scene in the audience in vivid detail and your audience will vest in your message. Bring it to life with as many of the senses as you can and you’ll be impressed at how well your audience connects with your story, speech or presentation.
If we effectively use the powerful tool of storytelling we build an emotional connection and rapport with our audience which can dramatically improve our speaking/leadership outcomes. So, take these simple steps to bring storytelling into your speaking or leadership communication repertoire and you’ll see how powerful they can be.
What’s your story? How will you use these storytelling techniques to improve your communication outcomes? As always, please do leave questions or comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
How would you describe your boss? Does he help you succeed and grow or hold you back? Do you look forward to going into work every day or only look forward to days your manager is on vacation? As you undoubtedly know, we spend the majority of our day at work. Having an awful boss can make your work life pretty unbearable. If you aren’t sure if your fearless leader fits the horrible boss category, check out these seven signs. Upon reading this post, you’ll be able to identify and understand the signs of a horrible boss.
Your Boss is a Bully
Think bullies only exist on the school playground? Unfortunately that is not the case. Bullies are definitely in the workplace as well. If a bully is in a manager or leadership role, they often abuse their power and make their direct reports miserable. A study of 3,066 U.S. workers by the Rand Corp., Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Los Angeles puts the number of employees in situations described as hostile at nearly one in five workers.
While every one of these aren’t citing bosses as bullies, they are certainly part of the issue. Bullies don’t belong anywhere, and certainly not in the workplace. Not sure if your boss is a bully? There are several characteristics that bullying bosses have in common. They tend to manage through intimidation, verbal abuse, and backstabbing. If you think your boss is a bully, you can stick up for yourself by those issues with specific examples of how you feel unfairly treated. Know that you can only control your responses and not others. The behavior may not change, so you need to be prepared to make a change if they don’t.
Your Boss is Lies Frequently
Great bosses are open and honest with their employees, they building trust and effective communication, horrible bosses are not. They tend to fudge the truth or outright lie to their team. Not only is this unethical, it makes it pretty hard to maintain relationships with the people on their teams.
A horrible boss will not deal honestly with issues that need resolution. Instead, they will blame, castigate and punish others while holding to half truths. The boss that makes lying a habit probably does so when it makes sense and benefits their agenda. These behaviors and characteristics are toxic to you as an employee and the success of your firm.
Your Boss is a Horrible Communicator
Do you consider your boss an effective communicator? Does it seem like no matter what you do, you and your boss are never on the same wavelength? Perhaps you have made every effort to improve your communication outcome with them, only to still have issues in the end.
You rely on your boss to communicate their expectations to you so that you can meet and surpass them. If your boss has a problem communicating, it becomes nearly impossible to be successful. Successful communication is essential between you and your boss in order for you to perform at your best and be the most effective you can be for the company.
Your Boss Doesn’t Listen
Employees want to be heard and a boss that doesn’t listen is destructive to employee morale & real world business outcomes. A manager not listening to his or her employees’ ideas sends a message that they don’t respect or value them. Perhaps they think they know best or feel threatened by your ideas. Whatever the reason there is no excuse for poor communication skills. Good managers value input and regularly ask for input from their team. They engage in active listening and spend twice as much time listening than they do speaking. The lost art of listening is an absolutely critical skill for leaders or management at any level.
Your Boss the Plays Blame Game
If you have experienced your boss not owning up to mistakes and even blaming other people, it’s not a good sign. Exceptional bosses know that everyone makes mistakes. A manager not taking responsibility for their errors shows that they will do anything to protect their reputation and will happily throw others under the bus. Knowing your manager blames others makes it likely they are blaming you for things too.
Successful leaders don’t play the blame game. They own failures as opportunities to improve and help navigate your organization to success.
Your Boss Micromanages
Bosses that micromanage tend to believe they know best. In order for things to be done properly they feel the need to hover and double check everything to make sure they don’t look bad. This undermines any opportunities for the employee to succeed and breaks down any potential trust that could develop between the employee and manager/leader. This is disastrous on an interpersonal level and organizational level.
Micromanaging bosses cause individual employees to fail to perform and the outcomes effect the larger organization.
Your team has a LOT of turnover
High turnover can be a red flag to managerial & leadership issues. People get fed up with bad managers and tend to move on. Did you know that a bad manager is the top reason people leave their jobs? A high turnover signals that many people are likely leaving due to an ineffective manager.
Are you dealing with a horrible boss? I hope not, but if you are you definitely now know the signs & consequences. Having lived through nearly every type of horrible boss – I entirely empathize & understand. The good news is that you can do several things to improve the situation. First you can be the effective communicator who is assertive and willing to address the issues you experience with him/her. You can be the employee who empowers and respects others, exhibits emotional intelligence and communicates effectively. Remember that leadership doesn’t need a title or position of power, rather it comes from everyone at every level of a successful organization. You can be a persuasive and successful leader that others will look up to. If you find even after showing the best of yourself that things don’t change it may be time to look for a new role. Remember that change is largely positive and opportunities abound. If not, you will enjoy the positive outgrowths of addressing these issues and the ensuing positive growth for you and your organization.
So you have made it through the application and phone screening phases and landed an interview? Congrats! Now you can meet face to face and secure the position. Feeling anxious yet? It can be a bit unnerving to prepare for your interview. After all, it is pretty important to your career.
Don’t worry though, most people get pretty nervous beforehand, but there are a few steps you can take to make your interview successful. We’ve received so many questions about the topic in our public speaking and leadership training courses that we developed this post to explain more in detail. Take a look at these five steps to help you show your best professional self and ace that job interview!
Know the Company/Industry
Companies will want you to be familiar with their company & its industry. You can impress them by providing details on the current marketplace and where they fit in it. Do your homework on the company and marketplace. Not only will this help you answer questions from the interviewer, it will help you determine if the company is a good fit for you. Interviews aren’t just a method for employers to find the best talent for their role, it is also an opportunity for candidates to determine if this is the right organization for them.
Check out sites like Glassdoor & Salary.com to review information like salary estimates and reviews from current and former employees. Review the company’s website to read their values and beliefs to get a feel for their company culture. Scan Google & other social media sites for recent news stories on the company to see why they are making headlines. You can also use this information to ask questions at the end that show you did your research.
Dress the Part
First impressions are unavoidable, particularly in an interview setting. A recent scientific study from New York University revealed that in less than a blink of an eye people make unconscious assessments of others. Hiring managers are often just as quick to judge our skills, capacities and personality. While most interviewers will be a bit more lenient, the truth is most managers/leaders hold to those first impressions whether it is conscious or not. If you are inappropriately dressed in your interview the interviewer will form an impression that you aren’t an appropriate fit for the role.
Generally, it’s better to be more formal than the job requires. Remember if you dress the part, you’ll feel more confident.
Body language is the non-verbal side of human communication which we deliver along side the spoken word. Body language comprises upward of 60% of our total human communication and the interviewer will certainly be watching how you connect with them on a non-verbal level. Remember to exude confidence through your body language. Make sure your posture is good, with no slouching or slumped shoulder. A firm, friendly handshake conveys confidence and never should be overbearing or domineering. While you are talking, make sure to smile and connect with your interviewer. Make eye contact and have a positive resting face to show you are confident and engaged. Relax and let your interviewer see that you are open to the conversation. Treat the interview like a conversation where you are explaining what you do now and what you have done in the past. Practice active listening and show the interviewer that you are a skilled communicator. Remember that these soft skills are as important as any other skill or capacity you bring to the job role.
Mind Your Voice
One of the key things for interviewers to assess from the interview are your communication skills. Avoid mumbling and make sure to enunciate your words so that the interviewer can clearly understand the answers you are providing.
Also be sure to avoid using poor vocal habits like filler words or vocal fry. Speak in a normal conversational but professional tone and avoid using slang. This will help the interviewer understand what you are saying and will make them unable to make negative judgments based on how you speak.
It’s normal to get nervous before or even during an interview. There is no doubt you are being judged, it’s kind of the point! Don’t sweat it, accept your feelings, understand them and take a positive action that is alignment with your goal of attaining the role. Before the interview, simply prepare with deep breathing, positive visualization and relaxation techniques that science shows improve your interview outcomes. These techniques help leaders and public speakers deal with these very same types of stressors and difficult situations. Remember, you can only be your best professional self and being in that positive state will help it shine through. While you can’t control the outcome, you can control how you react to your situation.
The bottom line: Keep yourself in a positive state of mind and do your best. If this job is the one meant for you, an offer will come. If not, you will get another opportunity. Thinking this way will also help you relax and help you have a good interview experience.
So if you’d like to ace your next job interview don’t forget these skills. They will serve you well and help you show the best of who you are. Dressing the part, show through body language, your voice and your positive mindset that you are the right one for the position. When you exhibit these skills employers will see your enthusiasm, your communication skills and emotional intelligence. These ‘soft skills’ will often be the largest determining factor in your success in any role. Be the best of who you are let it shine by practicing these job interview skills. If you do, I’m confident of the fact you’ll be receiving an offer letter in short order.
Got questions or comments? Please leave them below, we love to hear from you. If you found this post helpful please do join our monthly newsletter with expert tips on public speaking and leadership.
Far too often, students in our public speaking and leadership courses recall their ‘failures’ as challenges that define their present & future outcomes — rather than a bump in the road to their success. They often recall these experiences of ‘failures’ in vivid detail and explain that they truly feel they will never overcome the shadow of past. In a larger sense they suffer from what cognitive distortions or thought patterns that cause them to perceive these experiences inaccurately. Often these cognitive distortions reinforce negative thoughts or emotions and leave a person feeling helpless and hopeless. Nothing can be further from the truth. Failure is reality of life, but it is less a desperate dismal end than a hopeful beginning. Here in we will explore some ways one learn from failure and approach the future with brimming optimism.
Failure is a fact of life. In high stakes roles that public speakers and leadership hold failure is unavoidable. Rather than assume the failure defines our future potential we should accept it as it is. Our failure as speakers may come in the form of a speech that fell on deaf ears or a scathing negative review from our peers. Whatever it is — no matter. We have to learn to accept our own experiences, learn from them and positively move forward.
Our failures are not things to cower and hide from. We should own our failures by gaining a deeper understanding of them and their place in our learning journey. Owning our failure means now deflecting responsibility for its existence in our past. Instead, this involved bravely accepting and embracing our failure. If for example, we as leaders in an organization have failed help guide our team to an agreed upon goal, it is critical we own that failure. Not to hold it over our heads for eternity but to learn from it and improve future leadership outcomes.
Every failure is a learning opportunity in disguise. Rather than see failure as an insurmountable obstacle we should see the lessons it yields. If our startup pitch didn’t attain our funding goals, we can learn from the experience for next time. Rather than feel demoralized, we should seek to understand what we can learn to improve our next pitch. The lessons of failure are the precious but only to those that explore its fundamental purpose.
Life is always a series of challenges, but of them staying positive in the face of adversity is often the biggest. The challenge of a ‘failure’ calls us to bring forward the most positive within our selves to see beyond its dark and hazy shadow it often casts. Our past define us or negatively color our potential future. If our outlook is negative it is hard to see things as they really are. We have to see outside our current challenges and hold fast to the potential learning that comes by staying positive.
Will you learn from failure or live in its shadow? The choice is yours. Choose to redefine your future and the yield will be many fold. What is your experience with dealing with failures. Leave us a comment below and let us know. As always we wish you endless success.
Our resting face is the facial expression we make most often. It is our facial expression default, a non-verbal communication conveyed via one of our most powerful body language delivery mechanisms – the face. Speakers and leaders need to be mindful and aware of how they are using the face to their advantage or lack there of. If we want to engage our audience, lead our peers or persuade our superiors – we need to master our resting face. Before we explore this at greater length lets look at the science behind its importance.
When we first meet people, they form a near instantaneous impression of us. They make assumptions based upon external factors such as our facial expression, body language, voice and many other attributes. All happens in a blink of eye and these new friends (or sometimes unfortunate foes) assume they have ‘sized us up’. A recent scientific study from New York University details this phenomena perfectly. This study revealed that in less than a blink of an eye, people make unconscious assessments of others. Researchers in this study monitored the amygdala (emotional center of the brain) of participants who were presented with pictures of a variety of human faces. In a mere 33 milliseconds, participants in the study indicated whether they trusted the face (and the person behind it) – a period so short it excluded conscious insight. The study details a variety of factors such as facial structure, expression, eyes, etc. that influence our assessment of them. Now that we understand why our resting face is important, let’s explore how to optimize it.
Know Your Resting Face
Many novice students who come to our public speaking & leadership training sessions and seminars are unaware that they have an issue with non-verbal communication. For example, most novice speakers deal with glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) and therefore their resting face can look stressed and anxious. Their resting face is often stressed or anxious and they rarely smile. The same issue exists for the fledgling leader. Many times the stresses of the day get to him or her and they show it in a fatigued facial expression. Unfortunately, in most cases, these individuals are unaware that they are even showing a less than optimal resting face. They erroneously believe that their facial expression is serving the outcome they intend; when it is not. Now that we understand some of the issues speakers and leaders have with resting face let’s explore how we can optimize it in our communication scenarios.
One of the most critical skills with optimizing our resting face is being able to acknowledge our actual day to day resting face. There are a few ways to do this that we’ll explore them below.
Use a Mirror
Practice ‘checking in’ with how you feel and taking a look in the mirror. What does your resting face say? Is it warm and welcoming or does it depict stress or anxiety.
Record yourself (or have a friend do so) while speaking & leadership situations. Review it and take some notes on your resting face. What does your resting face convey and is it serving your needs or impeding you?
Ask a Friend
A great way to gain an awareness of your resting face habits is to ask a friend. Ask them to observe you over a span of time with a focus on what your most common facial expression is. Ask them to give you honest feedback.
Practice Your Social Smile
If we have less than a second to create a favorable impression, shouldn’t we use this time wisely. What can we do as communicators, speakers and leaders is to enhance our positive impressions and outcomes? There is much research into the powerful effects of smiling. Smiling, even without a reason for doing so, can improve mood, reduce stress and generally make you more likable. The act of smiling changes both your emotional state and that of the other person you are communicating with – both for the better. There is really no downside to the practice of smiling. Am I saying you need to constantly smile to be effective? No. It’s not realistic to assume we can and even should always smile but adding it to your non-verbal communications and resting face is a distinct advantage. Authentically smiling should be a part of your resting face and something you practice. Smiling will make you have a more authentic influence upon others while making you more likable and approachable. So says numerous scientific studies. To this I see no downside. Smile more, and improve your reception while speaking and leading. Now let’s see those pearly whites! =)