One of the first steps to take when thinking about maximising your personal impact is looking at your strengths and weaknesses. Being clear on how others see you is an important part of developing your communication skills. It enables you to know what you do well and where you can improve.
It’s important to remember we can't all work the room like Michelle Obama, you should be aiming to be the most confident version of yourself - not to be someone else. ‘Fake it till you make it’ will only get you so far, authenticity will get you further.We’re not all natural confident communicators but we can develop these skills. We’re not aiming for an overnight transformation of your communication skills or a TED-worthy speech, instead an improvement on the last speech.
Get specific. It helps to identify the areas you need to develop and work on them one at a time, so it’s not overwhelming but measurable and realistic. What is it you’re trying to improve and when does it tend to happen? For instance, if you have a habit of fidgeting when presenting, think about how you can focus on stillness and slowing down. It may help to have a clicker or a prop to hold while you work on this. If perhaps, you struggle with speaking up in meetings, you could explore a more confident pitch and tone of voice. This is something you could practice outside of meetings - when ordering a coffee or speaking on the phone. Tip: Nervous people often have a higher pitch because of more tension in their throat, speaking in a lower pitch is an easy way to feel and sound more confident. It’s important to know how you aim to improve and what success looks like for you. Then celebrate that success once you’ve achieved it, rather than moving on to the next area for improvement.
Don't forget to breathe. Confident communication often comes down to breathing. Deep breathing alleviates tension, increases blood flow to help you think clearly and demonstrates you are calm and in control. It also gives you some time to pause and think. Tip: Taking five deep breaths from your stomach before an important meeting will make a significant difference.
Challenge yourself. As cliché as it sounds, we grow by stepping outside of our comfort zone. Confident communication improves with each challenging situation you overcome, even if it doesn't go well - there's learning to be taken from the experience. It's important to say yes to opportunities that give you the chance to put your personal impact skills to practice. Whether it's volunteering to lead a meeting, initiating a conversation or doing a speech at a family event. It might feel intimidating but it's the best way to develop these skills (followed closely by a Different Duck workshop). Give it a go.
Our drama based workshops give participants the opportunity to practice their personal impact by gaining an awareness of communication styles, how to adapt them and testing these skills in a range of (sometimes challenging) scenarios with different personality types. For more info on our experiential approach to training, visit www.differentduck.co.uk.