How well do you get your message across in a face-to-face situation?  Can you be absolutely sure that your listener has concentrated on hearing you right through to the end?

There are many reasons why most of us are guilty of occasionally ‘tuning out’ of conversations.  There may be a lot going on around us, or perhaps the speaker is beginning to ‘waffle’ or become repetitious. Their body language may be inappropriate for the situation, perhaps lacking eye contact or appearing as though they are closed off to the messages being received or imparted.

Because there are now so many ways to communicate – through email, conference calls, Skype and so on – we have to consciously re-adjust to a face-to-face meeting and make good use of the appropriate speaking skills.  It may be time for you to re-evaluate your speaking techniques in order for you to appear more confident and affirmative in a verbal situation and to ensure that your message is regarded as important.  Fortunately, there are techniques that will help you with such situations.

  • Create impact by speaking more slowly and in a lower tone of voice.  This makes the message sound more serious and you appear more authoritative.
  • In addition, keep your sentences short, and pause to give the listener more time to process your message.
  • Try to avoid nodding and smiling too often.  These unconscious habits can make your message seem more trivial and so lower your credibility.
  • When you focus on what you are saying, you look more serious, and this emphasises to the listener that what you are saying is important.
  • Try to maintain eye contact with the listener. Maintain the kind of body language that makes it easier for the other person to listen to you.  Stand with your head up and your shoulders down so that you look ‘open’ to the conversation.  However, don’t appear overly friendly, as this may make it more difficult to ‘manage’ a difficult situation or engage in a challenging conversation on another occasion.
  • Think about your stance as you mentally review what you are about to say.  Your message will have more impact when you are concise.  The skill of imparting your message without a lot of waffle will also help you to effectively use social networking, whether through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.  Your brevity will be appreciated.

Remember, your verbal and physical presentation is important in a face-to-face situation, it adds creditability to your offline personal brand.  As a spokesperson for your company, you should be seen as approachable and personable, yet still maintain enough distance to ensure professionalism.  A mental ‘step back’ will enable you to speak with confidence and a new air of authority.

“Communication is the real worth of leadership”  

Nitin Nohria, Dean, Harvard Business School



Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, an award winning author and recognised as Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.

He is a regular commentator in international media organsations ABC, CNN, NBC, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Success, The Financial Review and Vogue.



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