When thinking of a company like Apple, immediately their brand comes to mind: imagination, creativity, and design. When thinking of Oprah, immediately things like openness, authenticity, and personal dialogue come to mind. And Nike? Athleticism and victory. Related: There's No 'I' In Personal Brand Although those are globally known names and brands, each of us also has a unique brand we carry with us every day. Our brands are our own personal slogans or words that describe each of us, and what we do. Even if you don't think you have a brand, you do. It is what people think of you and the work you do regardless of whether you agree with it or not. Your brand is the conversation going on about you while you are not in the room. The question is: do you know what your brand is and are you managing it? Seeking feedback from trusted peers and mentors about how you are perceived is a good way to find out about your current brand. Once you know how you are perceived, you can take steps to manage that perception. You can choose to build upon the perceived brand or change it. That is the beauty of a personal brand - it's yours to create. For example, there was a young leader who wanted to advance his career inside a large corporation. He found out, although not intentionally, he was branding himself as a "reserved, thoughtful, hardworking, and quiet leader." He wanted his brand to bring up thoughts of a "charismatic, dynamic leader" who was also "hardworking and thoughtful" so he needed to change the current perception. He needed to build and portray his brand as a charismatic, dynamic, thoughtful, and hardworking leader. The best way to do that is to embody your brand. This young man had built his brand by default. He was not conscious of it nor was he trying to come across in any particular way; however, there was still a brand attached to his name and it was based on how he was behaving and how he was perceived by others within his company. The message here is to be aware that even though you may not think you have a brand, you do. And, if you want to advance and develop your career, it is a piece that should be managed so you are coming across in the exact way you want others to perceive you. Be aware of your brand in all that you do. Make an effort to exhibit it at all times. Just like Apple, Oprah, and Nike. Everything these organizations do and everything they produce promotes their brand. And, all you do should promote your brand. Promoting it is not difficult if the brand is true to who you authentically desire to be. The young man in the above example needed to practice being more dynamic and charismatic instead of quiet and reserved. Quiet and reserved were his default but dynamic and charismatic were his passion and true to who he wanted to be so that is how he began to brand himself. He began to embody the traits of a dynamic and charismatic leader and he focused on portraying them in all he did. Doing so changed the perception of him, just as he wanted. What is your brand? Are you aware of it and are you managing it? Are you embodying it in all you do? Hopefully the answer is yes because your personal brand is a very important piece of successful career growth. This post was originally published on an earlier date. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Public speaking can’t always be avoided in the business world when you’re tapped on the shoulder to give a presentation to your peers or to an important client.
Even in the age of home video conferencing, it’s still very natural to feel like you’d rather do ANYTHING other than turn on that camera, take a deep breath, and feel everyone’s eyes on you…watching.
Ever wonder how actors push through stage fright?
As a trained actor and coach (prior to entering the business world), I’ve learned to not be timid while orating Shakespeare in the spotlight or when hitting those high notes in front of thousands of eyeballs.
Not surprisingly, the same tricks actors use can be applied to public speaking in a business context. Here are some tips from an actor-turned-business-professional on calming your nerves.
Tip #1: Put Yourself In The Audience’s Seats
I always get incredibly nervous right before a singing audition. I’ve found what helps lessen my anxiety is to do as a fellow performer once suggested and put myself in the director’s chair. (The director is typically the person who decides if you are cast in the show).
The director WANTS you to do well! They want you to be the perfect person for the role—able to garner good reviews and box office sales. They want you to do so well that they could even tell everyone else to go home; they’ve found their star.
Plus, no director wants to sit through hours and hours of bad singing auditions…would you?
Likewise with public speaking.
When have you ever found yourself listening to a speaker and wished that they would be boring? Or wanted them to bomb so badly that you get nothing from their talk?
Rather, you probably hope the speaker is so dynamite that you actually forget to take notes because you are so transfixed and inspired by their message.
Know that the audience is on your side and let that encourage you. They want you to do well.
Tip #2: Give ‘Em The Old Razzle-Dazzle
I love to tap dance. Sometimes (ok, quite often), my feet don’t move as quickly as they should and I mess up a step or two…or ten.
A choreographer once taught me that a major part of dancing, and where the audience usually focuses, is all in the face and arms. If you are smiling a 1,000-watt smile and making grand arm gestures, the audience isn’t likely to see that your feet messed up that paradiddle step. (Yes, that’s a real thing!)
Public speaking also follows this rule. The audience can’t tell that you are nervous and feel like you just might pass out.
Bluff it! Put on your smile and stand tall. Walk with purpose and speak with authority, even if you feel unsure of yourself. It can feel weird, but you have to trust me here.
When you act as if you are confident, the audience will assume you are confident. Your body will even convince your brain into believing that you are, in fact, confident!
What if you DO mess up? So what? Keep going! Don’t drop your poise and strong voice, as they are effectively drawing attention away from any insecurities that may come up, just like jazz hands can help cover for missing a step-shuffle-ball-change.
Tip #3: Enter The Clown
Actors have learned that mistakes are bound to happen and sometimes you have to play the fool.
For instance, props or scenery may break or fall unexpectedly during a show. Actors are taught to pretend like it is supposed to happen, and work it into the scene. Or they may quickly remove the wayward item and simply continue on.
I’ve even witnessed actors stumble and fall onstage, then make a comment about what a klutz they are (in character, of course!) and continue on like it was scripted that way.
Let’s say during your speech you trip up on some words unexpectedly. Work it into the presentation as if you meant for it to happen. For example: “The biggest finanbial chamanges…a-hem, well those lesser-known things…as well as the biggest financial challenges we face are…”
Call yourself out and you get an on-the-spot joke to lighten the mood—and the audience loves you for it.
Or let’s say you knock over your glass of water while speaking. That’s the perfect time to make a crack about how uncoordinated you are and why you never made the basketball team. (*Rimshot please!*)
Tip #4: “Once Again From The Top, Ah-5-6-7-8!”
Actors spend hours, days…weeks! memorizing their lines to be “word perfect” right down to the smallest pause. They get every tilt of the head, every gesture, and every single word into muscle memory.
When opening night comes, no matter how much their stomach is turning over like they’re on a cruise ship in a hurricane, they can effectively put themselves on autopilot and get through the show without a hitch.
Now, with this tip, I would NEVER recommend that you, as a public speaker, go to the extremes actors do.
Why? Memorizing isn’t necessary for public speaking. In fact, I strongly suggest you don’t memorize, as you risk coming off as “fake.”
Rehearsing on the other hand is a must!
Rehearse in front of a mirror…while shopping for groceries…in front of a friend. Video or audio record yourself and play it back.
If possible, practice in the actual space where you will be speaking (yes, even if it’s in your home office) to get a feel for it so that it doesn’t disorient you on the big day.
Your goal is to know your main points and examples while allowing yourself to improvise here and there with different words and phrases to keep it fresh.
If you try to memorize and you forget a sentence while speaking, it has the tendency to really trip you up unless you’re a seasoned pro. However, if you practice experimenting with different ways of saying things, you’re building your quick-thinking prowess and ability to handle the unexpected while in the spotlight.
Notes are, of course, perfectly acceptable, but you don’t want to stay buried in your notes resulting in never making eye contact with the audience (or webcam).
Another no-no is clearly reading from a script while on a video conference. Reading a script is one of the best ways to disengage the audience unless you are very good at making it sound conversational…a tough skill to master.
Instead, know your speech so well that glancing at the first few words on a notecard will propel you into that part of the speech, without having to constantly refer to your notes.
Remember that public speaking is one fear that, with a little practice and the right mindset, can be overcome. Who knows, you may start to crave the spotlight so much that I’ll see you at the next audition!