Five Surefire Ways to Eliminate Static and Communicate With Influence
By: Stacey Hanke
Most individuals are unaware of the static they create when they communicate. Not only does their static prevent them from influencing others to take action, they also run the risk of;
• Minimizing the perceptions others create of them.
• Grabbing and keeping their listeners attention.
• Communicating a message that’s unclear and misunderstood.
What do I mean by static? When what you say is not consistent with how you say it. For example; you’re having a face-to-face conversation and the interviewer says; “Our company is the best in its industry.” While they communicate this statement they sound boring with a monotone voice. Their facial expressions are lifeless. They never look you in the eye while they’re fidgeting with a pen. Would you want to work with them? Most likely you’d question their credibility and knowledge.
The purpose of this article is to increase your awareness of the static you may be creating when you interview and to give you practical, immediate skills you can apply when you’re communicating your value to a company.
Do you walk into the interview room like you belong there? Does your posture convey confidence or uncertainty? I was at a conference observing individuals walking into the room. The individuals who caught my attention walked into the room as if they were saying; “I’d rather be having a root canal right now than entering this room?” Not only did they walk into the room hesitant their seated posture communicated uncertainty.
If only we could see what others see when we enter a room or sit in an interview. If you want to be taken more serious, have more impact and influence, a powerful place to begin is your standing and seated posture.
Standing Neutral Posture
To be perceived as confident stand and sit in the neutral stance or home base.
• Distribute your weight evenly on both feet; position your feet forward with your legs hip width apart.
• Relax your arms at your sides to avoid fidgeting with your rings, fingers, notes, etc. which causes distractions for your interviewer.
• When you’re done using a gesture or movement, come back to your neutral stance or home base.
• Keep your energy up and forward toward your listener.
• When you’re fidgeting, rocking back and forth or pacing, your mind cannot work effectively, preventing you from thinking on your feet. As a result, you’ll lose your train of thought and will not be as effective as you could be.
Seated Neutral Posture
• When seated, avoid slouching; sit up straight and place your feet flat on the floor.
• When you slouch it is more difficult to project your voice and speak with confidence.
If you’re seated at a table, keep your gestures above the table to add emphasis to your words. When you gesture underneath the table your listeners may wonder; “what is he/she doing under there?” A distraction I cannot imagine you want to cre-ate.
• Avoid fidgeting with your pen, fingers, rings, etc.
• Be careful NOT to let your pen, etc. become part of your gestures.
Use posture to establish credibility and confidence without speaking a word. Practice the neutral position whenever you’re standing; talking to co-workers in the hallway at work; or standing in line. Twice a day for a week, notice your posture as you’re stand-ing or sitting. Practice is the secret to changing your old habits into new, improved hab-its.
2. Get to the Point
The more you say that’s unnecessary, the greater the risk your interviewer will either miss or misinterpret your point. What can help you get to the point?
• Stay focused. When you find yourself going down the path of saying too much and you begin to feel like a train about to derail, put the brakes on and get yourself back on track…PAUSE!
• Keep your objective in mind. Think in terms of what your interviewer needs to know about what you and the value you bring to the company.
• Put thought to your words. .
• Use the Rule of Three. Focus your message on no more than the three most signifi-cant points. It’s easier for you to get to the point and for your interviewer to remem-ber your message.
• Pay attention to your interviewer. Are they hanging on your every word or are they dazed? Are they attentive or fidgeting?
3. Vocal Projection
Our voice conveys confidence IF we speak to be heard. If you want to influence your interviewer they have to hear you. In all of my years working with thousands of indi-viduals, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to ask someone to turn down their volume level.
On a scale from one to ten with one being inaudible and ten too loud; when speaking over the phone or to a small group less than ten project at a four to five level.
Vocal projection has nothing to do with yelling. No one should have to strain to hear you. If they do, they’ll stop listening and you.
• Hold your interviewer’s attention.
• Bring out the importance of your message.
• Convey confidence.
Um, what perception, like, do you create, you know, when you hear, um, a speaker us-ing, uh, words that clutter, you know, their language? Knowledgeable, credible and con-fident probably don’t come to mind.
I talked about the power of pausing in the fall newsletter. Since this skill is critical to in-fluencing a company to hire you I felt I needed to emphasizes it again!
We refer to these words (um, uh, so, well, ok, you know, etc.) as non-words or filler words. As I travel the country, the number one challenge individuals need to overcome if they want to communicate with influence, is the ability to replace their non-words with a pause. We use non-words to buy ourselves time to think about what we want to say. These words become distracting and your listener misses what you’re communicating. Instead, give your listeners time to hear, understand and absorb your message.
Benefits for You
• Think on your feet.
• Get to the point and avoid rambling.
• Take a relaxing breathe.
• Hold your listener’s attention.
• Gain control over your message and how you communicate your message.
Benefits for Listener
• Hear and understand your message.
• Act on what you say.
5. Eye Connection With a Solid Handshake
Last week when I met a new client to help him enhance his ability to influence others, I asked him; “What do you feel are your communication strengths?” He responded, “Eye contact.” As he responded his eyes were darting everywhere! Most individuals don’t lock their eyes with an individual long enough to create a relationship.
The only way to build a relationship is through trust. Trust is created when you can con-fidently look someone in the eyes and deliver a handshake that communicates; “I am the right person for this job.” Ask a friend or peer what they think your handshake communicates. Always be the first to invite the handshake by reaching your hand to the interview while maintaining solid eye connection.
When you forget what to say, you will look at the ceiling, floor or anywhere away from your listeners. When you disconnect you’ll say: “uh” “um” “so” “and”, etc. You communi-cate to your interviewer you don’t know what to say. This is another reason why it’s crit-ical to practice eye connection; if you’re focused in your eyes you will be focused in your thoughts.
If the decision came down to hiring you or another candidate, the candidate with the more effective and confident communication skills would be chosen. Does this describe you?
Stacey Hanke is co-author of the book; Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action (Author House, 2008). Her book provides practical and immediate skills and techniques that have given thousands the ability to be at their personal best in all face-to-face communication.
As a seasoned presenter and coach, she has more than 10,000 individuals on her client list both nationally and internationally. She has delivered over 500 presentations for business leaders in the financial industry to the healthcare industry to government and everyone in between. Her area of expertise lies in offering practical skills and techniques that build confidence and credibility into leadership, client relationships and our personal lives.
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