Say it like you mean it.
For as much time as the typical entrepreneur spends on refining the words of her marketing messages, I wonder if she puts the same care into how she says those words when she’s interacting with people face to face.
Because – if you’re going to be honest – you have to admit that many people sabotage an otherwise powerful message by delivering it poorly.
Just think of how many times you’ve heard a speaker – whether sharing her elevator pitch at a networking event, presenting a workshop, or in some other situation – totally dilute the power of her message with any of these self-sabotaging behaviors:
- starting off by sharing how nervous she is
- peppering her talk with pauses, hesitations, and space fillers like um, you know, and – a personal hate-favorite – like
- using an upward inflection at the end of sentences, so that everything sounds like a question?
- speaking tentatively, as if she’s just waiting for someone to challenge her and is ready to back down the instant that happens
- minimizing her contribution with phrases like I think; this may be a dumb idea, but; I guess; It’s only my idea; and so forth
Seriously: If you were a prospect looking for a service provider, would you even consider hiring someone who came across like that?
Your great ideas deserve a great delivery. That means being aware of any less-than-useful habits you may have fallen into and consciously changing them. Here’s a good start.
Don’t spill your guts.
Any time you’re faced with a new situation, there’s bound to be a little nervousness. That doesn’t mean you have to publicly admit to it.
I’ve never heard any speaker do herself any good at all by starting out by saying she’s nervous. All that does is make her listeners nervous, add to the discomfort all around, and, in my opinion, create a certain skepticism on the part of listeners as to the speaker’s competence.
Learn to accept silence.
Many Americans seem to struggle with silence. They’re so uncomfortable with it that, when they’re speaking, they’ll resort to meaningless filler phrases just so there’s always some sound.
You come across much more powerfully when you pause to marshall your thoughts, then continue speaking. If every fourth word is um, you’ll lose your listeners’ attention, their confidence, and their goodwill.
Ask questions or make statements, but don’t make a statement that sounds like a question.
The habit of ending a statement with an upward inflection is one of the easiest to change. Listen to yourself: If you realize that most of your statements come across as questions, practice pitching your voice down at the end of your sentences. It may feel uncomfortable at first, and the increase in your perceived competence will be well worth the price.
Think of your dog.
All of us who are dog owners have had at least one experience of our beloved pet starting to do something dangerous. I guarantee that we effortlessly, without thinking, pulled out our best no-nonsense, you-will-obey me voice and told them to stop, or come, or drop, or whatever else would keep them safe.
This voice has a lot of power behind it. In fact, the instructors of a self-defense course I took told us to use this “bad dog” voice as a powerful verbal deterrent to anybody hassling us, because it would make them feel that we weren’t worth the effort.
Now, you don’t want to go to quite that level of power in everyday business dealings. However, even toning it down will enable you to present a calm, confident demeanor that does justice to what you have to say.
Claim your competence.
Too many of us act as if our contributions aren’t valuable unless and until others approve of them. What a pity.
You definitely don’t know everything, but you know a hell of a lot. You have the right – maybe even the responsibility – to share it with people, because you never know who will need to hear your words today.
It’s your choice whether to claim your power or give it up.
As Marianne Williamson puts it in A Return to Love, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
So don’t downplay your opinions, suggestions, and ideas. State them clearly without qualifiers. Not only will you honor yourself; you’ll also present a more powerful presence to those around you and give your good ideas a more solid platform for consideration.
And if people disagree with you? Okay. It’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t make you “wrong” – unless you choose to let it.
Choose to strongly say what you have to say. You’ll not only benefit yourself. Williamson points out that you’ll also benefit others: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”
So go be a beacon. The world needs more light.
What are some practices that help you say it like you mean it, even despite discomfort? Please share them in the comments section below.
(BTW, thanks to RichardBH for posting the strong image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in effective communication, personal power and tagged choice, effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.
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