Monday, December 28, 2009

Creating a Positive Professional Image Part II

Being specific about how you present yourself contributes to your success. Being a polished professional allows you to focus on others and be confident that your verbal and non-verbal messages are in alignment.

Being the best professional requires being relaxed. When you are at ease and present you are aware of your surroundings, interested in others and taking care of you. As you interact with people by creating and working from a simple congruent professional image whether by email, phone or in person allows a more lasting result. People want to hire and do business with someone they trust and like. One of the fastest ways to develop trust is to create and maintain a confident and consistent image that others understand and can relate with.

In this two-part blog this being the second, we will focus on two key areas of your professional image. One of which is the physical mannerism and the second is in your speaking. Both of these teamed up together will produce the most comprehensive and effect professional results. You have up to 7 seconds to make an impression. As people connect with you and form correct opinions of you the less work and effort it takes to enhance your career focus.

I recommend you slow down your movements and be more deliberate with how you choose to walk, speak, process information, respond, and otherwise put movement into your life. As you slow things down you are able to make a more focused point and get your message across more clearly. When we are deliberate focusing on our message, and our desired outcome while engaging with the other person we are more likely to be successful. We tend to operate at such an accelerated rate that we loose our focus and effectiveness. To make an impression you want to slow things down for your audience so they can receive and follow you.

In partnership with slowing things down I encourage you to simplify your gestures. If you have a tendency to move around shifting your weight, using your hands and doing large gestures I recommend you make them more simple and less of them. Use the space in front of you from your neck to your belly and from your left to your right side, about the size of a large poster board as your template and don't expand too far from that. You want people to see you. Since most peopleÕs reference point is about the size of a computer or a TV screen their scope of visual input is limited. When using gestures and your body in a space larger than what people are accustomed to you may loose a good deal of your communication and message.

When speaking or moving beyond that natural frame your audience will not be able to see or absorb what you are saying. Establishing and projecting a business image requires understanding your audience and their learning style of receiving information.

In partnership with our visual movements and presentation how we say things is equally important. The percentage of impact we have with how we say something is nearly 37% of our total communication. Much more than the actual words which only accounts for 7%. The remaining amounts come from our non-verbal gestures. So with this in mind, it's important to own and speak with power. One very effective way to do that is to drop your pitch at the end of a sentence or thought. That way the listener hears what you are saying much more clearly and with more convention and confidence. Our natural inclination is to believe and give credence to someone who speaks with power, conviction, slowly and with a firm low pitch. People who do this naturally in professions are clergy, police officers, news anchors, and politicians. All of these professions in particular are ones with perceived authority and power. By lowering your voice you gain creditability and increase your presence.

As you lower your tone and use less gestures it is also important to say each word at the end of your sentence as a way to bridge with your listener and to slow down our speaking in such as way as to bring your message across. By imaging the end of your sentence and the end of a word you are more likely to pronounce your words and be heard.

The goal in your professional image enhancement is to be seen as an expert, to be received fully and to leverage this towards greater career success.

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