Being persuasive is a trait many people wish they had. Think about it: how many times a day do you wish you could change someone’s mind? How often do you crave influence? When you present an idea, project, or pitch, your main goal is to persuade someone to agree with you. But what’s the secret to being persuasive at work --- or ANYWHERE for that matter? According to Jeff McHugh, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company, the secret is storytelling. “If you want people to look at the world through your eyes,” he said, “tell them a story.” For example, how often do you remember statistics when someone is trying to convince you to change your behavior or mindset? For most of us, statistics aren’t memorable. But how many times do you showcase statistics when you make a presentation or pitch at work? Chances are, you use statistics regularly. While this isn’t a bad thing, it’s not going to be the piece that persuades your audience to agree with you. However, how many times do you remember a STORY that pulls at your heartstrings, makes you laugh, or draws out another emotion? Here’s an example. What influences your opinion more? According to a recent survey, four out of 10 people have found their “best” job through networking. OR… I spent hours, days, even MONTHS applying to jobs online and I got NO RESULTS. It wasn’t until I spent that time on my networking strategy that I found myself face-to-face with the CEO of my dream company, which lead to the job offer I had been waiting for since I graduated college. Which one makes you think differently about the power of networking? Being persuasive at work isn’t as hard as you might think. It just comes down to good storytelling. Next time you try to convey an idea, an opinion, or a project, pause for a moment and think: “stories, not stuff.”
Even if you're not an official leader at your company, chances are you'll have to hold a meeting or present an idea to your team at some point in your career. But are you sabotaging your ability to engage your team during meetings or presentations? Embracing your creativity, spontaneity, and flavor can seem inappropriate in the “real world.” For years, you were told that, in order to be a professional, you had to ACT professional. But what does that mean exactly? Most people think “acting professional” means leaving your personality at the door when you walk into the office. But that’s the worst thing you can do if you want to engage your team during meetings or presentations. In fact, if you DON’T share a little personality in your voice, you’ll put them right to sleep. According to Dan Moriarty, a presentation coach at Own The Room, a communication skills training company, voice modulation is a key skill that presenters need to leverage in order to connect with an audience. Voice modulation, the ability to a change the pitch, volume, tone, or inflection of your voice, will allow you to convey important information in a way that engages your audience. Next time you have to hold a meeting or present an idea, think about how your words are coming across to your audience. Are you monotone or are you changing the tone, pitch, volume, and inflection of your voice as you get excited, frustrated, or thoughtful? Being able to do this will allow you to get and hold your team’s attention. Showing this kind of emotion when you speak might seem strange at first, but that’s okay, according to Moriarty. “Have courage to step outside yourself, to feel uncomfortable, to feel awkward,” said Moriarty, “because when you do that, when you’re awkward, when you’re vulnerable, you allow those around you permission to go there with you.” So, if you’re struggling to engage your team during meetings or presentations, allow yourself to show emotion and personality when you speak. You might be surprised at the response!
They say that some people are born leaders, but the truth is that anyone can hone their leadership skills even if they weren't "born" leaders. Some people are born with better abilities in certain areas that lend themselves to being a great leader, but that doesn't mean that these skills are impossible to learn or improve. Being confidant, brave, and being able to make hard decisions are a few of the traits of a good leader, but there's no one-size-fits-all way to describe a great leader because history has shown us many incredible leaders who have all had their own unique skill sets. Related: 6 Leadership Traits You (The Employee) Need To Develop On-The-Job If you want to improve your leadership skills, whether it's to help you get further ahead at work, or simply to improve other areas of your life, here are some tips and pieces of advice that will help you learn what it takes to be a great leader and you'll be well on your way! What better way to improve your skills than to model them after the best?
“Leadership is much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do.” (Max De Pree) Related: 7 Tips For Becoming A Leader At Work A little while back, I was very inspired by the people and presenters at our “Empowering Women in Leadership” event. We covered and discussed growing into your potential, influence vs. authority, leadership defined through personal, business and family, and the future of how women can grow into their leadership. The data and trends strongly point to women continuing to be a majority and a force. They are starting businesses 2-to-1 over any other ethnic group, 60% of college students and control 66% of global consumer spending! Women are still unfortunately struggling with equity issues, especially in the workplace, so any discussion of leadership must be far more holistic. Leadership is defined in many areas of our lives and in many ways.