Having worked for over three decades with people at every level of the business world, I’ve witnessed many aspects of the corporate experience. I’ve observed CEOs, managers, directors, vice presidents and presidents in sales and marketing, design and development, finance, legal and operations departments. The main problem I was hired to solve?- poor communications and presentation skills. I believe this problem is largely a manifestation of peoples’ fears of expressing their personalities and emotions—ultimately, of being themselves at work.
What creates these fears? I believe they stem from the contradictory messages corporations send their employees, who are expected to be businesslike and reflect the image of the corporation, yet at the same time encouraged to feel like they are individuals and a vital part of the “family.” Businesses and corporations often simultaneously pull workers in and push them away, and this mixed message serves to confuse employees about their roles. Should they be “corporate” or “expressive”? Good question: I believe they can be both.
One way to handle this dual directive is to find a way to embrace and be competent in both realms. You must, of course, know your material, but what’s equally important is how you present it, how you communicate it. Animation, emotional poise and confidence are just as important as work-related skills and knowledge. What you say is important. How you say it is perhaps even more important because if audiences don’t hear your message, it doesn’t matter what you said, does it?
Don’t wait for your company to take action—whose career is it anyway?
Can you imagine the human experience without emotion or animation? It wouldn’t be human experience; it’d be robot experience. What a gift we’ve been given as human beings to be able to express ourselves in so many different ways! What a shame so many people need others to speak for them. What a waste of natural talent that could be used to positively affect and influence others.
Blowing Your Own Horn
If you can’t sing your own praises, who will? How are people going to know how terrific you are if you’re not demonstrating your abilities in an ongoing fashion? If you’re constantly deflecting compliments, people eventually start to agree with you.
How are you going to be seen if you spend your time being invisible? You might ask, “Well, how am I supposed to be front and center when I’ve been sitting in the back row my whole life?” You need to start moving up slowly, one row at a time.
If you have begun to speak with passion, energy and animation, people will react differently to you. For instance, if you’re a salesperson, your sales will begin to rise. If you’re part of a marketing team, people will begin to notice how you present a product and listen more closely to your ideas. If you’re the president or vice president of a company, people will listen more attentively. If you need to talk to somebody you’re close to and tell them how you’re feeling, they will hear you in a new way. The result of this kind of communication is increased respect from all those around you. Now, isn’t that something you’d like to have?
Go get it!