Life isn’t fair. Do yourself justice.

Thoughtful Thursday Series

Life isn’t fair. Great ideas don’t automatically win over bad ones. Outstanding individuals don’t necessarily get promoted over mediocre ones. Your talents and contributions aren’t always visible to the rest of the world. Life isn’t fair.

But could it also be that we are not always fair on ourselves? What if I’m not doing myself justice through the way I show up and express myself?

Through my working life, I have watched otherwise capable and intelligent people let themselves down in presentations and meetings. People with brilliant ideas. People with deep knowledge and solid experience. People who could bring real value to the business. But for various reasons, their colleagues, superiors, or clients could not hear their message or perceive their greatness. This tragic waste of human potential continues to be one of my strongest motivations for the work I do. As much as I love helping clients to blow their audience away, the most important part of my work is to stop people from letting themselves down.

Here are some of the things that distract, alienate, or simply make it too difficult for our audience to take in our message. Does any of them sound familiar?

Three ways you may be letting yourself (and your audience) down

1) Signaling that you’re not worth listening to

If you don’t look confident, they won’t think you’re competent. If you don’t seem to be convinced about your idea, why would they be? Your non-verbal communication – tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions – continuously sends information to your audience about your emotional state and level of confidence. Owning your space, taking your time, standing tall, using open gestures, and speaking in a loud voice will help you be more assertive.

2) Boring the pants off them

Being professional does have to equal being boring. Your audience has a limited attention span, and it’s your job to keep them interested.  No, you don’t need to be a clown or a comedian – just don’t sound like a monotonous robot. Bring your presentation to life and show them why your subject matters, to you and to them. Appeal to their emotions. Use rich, visual language and stories. Modulate your voice, varying your volume and speaking rate. Connect with your audience.

3) Being too wordy or too nerdy

Oh, the temptation to tell them everything I know about my subject. And I know my stuff, so no need to prepare… or?

Too many words will dilute your message. Your audience will struggle to figure out what your point is and may not be able to see the forest for the trees. Nobody gets a kick out of preparation work, but it does pay off. A well structured and succinctly spoken message is more likely to convince your audience.

Do yourself justice when it really matters.

Next time you have a chance to speak up, don’t let yourself down. Don’t rely only on your title, your knowledge, or the power of your subject. Do your part to persuade the others of the value that you and your ideas can bring to the world. Do yourself  justice when it really matters.

Executive Presence and Public Speaking are modules of our Career Lab Development Program.

 

Article by Maria, Career Lab Coach.