Grow Your Wow Factor
When I ask people who comes to mind when it comes to powerful presence, common answers include Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Princess Diana. What do all of these people have in common? Charisma. But they also worked through their own mine fields to end up in a zone of communication delivery that appears golden to the rest of us. They grew from the many opportunities they created or were given to communicate matters of importance to wider audiences.
You’ve likely heard of Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder. Assessment tools such as these can lead you and your organization to work together better and grow team morale, but no group can improve unless each individual within the group knows how to handle his or her unique set of communication strengths and challenges. The onus is on you to determine your starting point on the continuum.
I like to call this your wow factor. Rate yourself on a presence scale of one to 10, with 10 the highest. Where do you put yourself right now? There’s no right or wrong; your number just is. But it can always move higher. Even if you’re already a 10, you can become a more complete 10.
The most important person to assess and keep grading your wow factor is you. But don’t get hung up on the number for now. Let’s take a look at how you present at various business spaces.
Presence At Events
This spring, I had the pleasure of attending the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction awards luncheon as a guest of one of my clients, one of seven being honored that day. Even though I coach people about powerful presence, I never take for granted how I show up at events.
I start by doing audience analysis. In this case, it was mostly women, a majority of whom would be dressed to the nines. Women dress for themselves and other women more than they ever worry about how they look to men. With that in mind, I wore one of my power suits with a red blouse that further emphasized my main brand color (for example, if I worked for Target, red). Shoes are my signature piece. Everyone notices great shoes. They naturally round out a flattering outfit. When you have bad shoes, you may not realize the negative ways they affect how you walk and hold yourself, and how they influence how you are perceived by others.
Attention to face and hair are primary. Even though men aren’t likely wearing makeup, make sure your face isn’t shiny or sweaty before any event. Ladies, look into the blow-out bar—salons that specialize in making sure your hair looks fabulous. (One of my faves is the WOW Bar at 50th and France in Edina.) These salons are far more common than they were even a couple years ago. Many work with business deadlines and get you in and out in 30 to 40 minutes. An added perk? This styling lasts for three to four days.
Body language is also crucial. Great posture and a genuine smile are two simple things to remember when heading into an event. Remaining authentic is also important. You’ll have a mix of people with whom you will have intentional conversations. It’s more important people feel good about making your acquaintance than it is that they remember everything you’ve done for the last 10 years. So plan brief encounters accordingly. For some events, this means picking exact topics ahead of time. For others, do on-the-spot reconnaissance and then communicate authentically with words the setting requires.
Chances are you greet more people on the phone than in person. How intentional are you with those greetings?
Let’s first take messages you leave for others on voicemail. Do you ramble? You can increase your own wow factor here and make them want to call you back by leaving a concise but friendly message. Be sure to state your name clearly, especially if they don’t know you already. By all means, leave your phone number twice. I’m amazed how many messages I receive where I have to listen to the message several times because the person garbled his name or flew through her number so quickly I couldn’t possibly understand it in one take.
When you create a recorded greeting, be sure to smile as you record. I’ve heard people’s greetings that make me wonder if they’re mad at the world or just plain bored. That sends a subtextual message that will lose you more business than gain you new contacts or fans. In all cases, be authentic, not trendy or clichÃ©.
Roshini Rajkumar is a communication coach, host of News & Views on WCCO Radio, and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit CommunicateThatBook.com