Is your comfort zone holding you back?
How do you show up to your regular meetings? What is your body language saying? What messages are you communicating when you are not even speaking? Are these impressions congruent with your personal brand and reputation?
In unfamiliar business or social settings often we are more consciously thinking about our behaviours and what best suits our purpose, do you apply the same rigour in the business meetings you need to influence?
Whatever your natural presentation style, the approach may suit some audiences but not others. You might find it easier speaking in a casual or conversational way. For others, a formal or matter of fact style can feel more natural.
The question to ask is, does your natural or most comfortable style influence the group?
To be great leaders, we need behavioural flexibility. That is, knowing what behaviours will support the result we need and then using them appropriately. We must adapt our styles to suit different contexts and different groups.
First, assess the audience . What style of behaviours have greatest impact on the group over the longer term? What style does the group leader most display to influence? Determine the audience’s norms.
Second, determine the purpose of your communication.
Are you telling or seeking information?
When you want to lead a discussion or tell your audience information, it is important to appear credible and commanding. When you need to be more collaborative and seek information, it is important to appear approachable and open.
Finally, choose behaviours that are consistent with your audience and your purpose
Mannerisms that make you appear more credible can include;
- Adopting a power stance: relax your arms and shoulders, have you’re your knees slightly bent with your chest high
- Pausing to let your message sink in
- Using hand gestures with palms facing down
- Maintaining appropriate eye contact with your audience
- Holding your head still.
You can appear more approachable by adopting the following behaviours;
- Using hand gestures with open palms
- Being seated rather than standing
- Altering the tone or intonation of your voice
- Move your head up and down rather than still.
Whichever you choose, it is important to PRACTICE . Use a mirror or the camera on your laptop to notice the difference in how you sound or look when adopting these styles.
When you are in a meeting or giving a presentation, you might find it useful to place a sticky note somewhere visible as a reminder to adopt these behaviours.