Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's ALL About the Presentation

In a superficial world where we are all judged and judge alike, perception plays a key role in all facets of interaction. We are all aware of the old adage, “a first impression is a lasting impression”, but at times, some of us fail to make our impressions stick with those whom we encounter. This relatively unavoidable social construct presents an amicable arena for all of us to improve the manner in which we are initially and regularly perceived, making effective first and frequent impressions. Essentially, an understanding of the importance embedded in the impressions made equips people with the tools necessary to turn an opportunity for prejudice into an opportunity for a positive takeaway.

In a seminar I teach entitled “Best Foot Forward”, I attempt to instruct undergrads in the how to’s of their professional presentations, physical and otherwise. We touch on a cornucopia of topics ranging from construction of their resumes to the handshake, signifying acceptance of the job offer. No need to worry, though. I will not be cannonballing into all that the seminar offers (wipes brow).

However, I do intend to provide a few general tips to keep the impressions you leave positive and when other people bring your name up, nothing but compliments will flow.

1.     General Physical Upkeep – People are visual creatures, and thus, our initial judgments derive from the signals sent from that sense. A frequent misconception lies in the thought process that makes people feel that dressing in expensive clothing on a daily basis is a must, which is not true, HOOOOOOOOWEVER, looking like a bum is un-ac-ceptable! Take care of the major areas and all should be well. Make sure your hair is in order (including facial for the gentlemen, hopefully not for the ladies), your nails are clean and trimmed, and your personal hygiene is up to date—that means EVERYDAY!

2.     TWO Ears, ONE Mouth – Like moms frequently remind us, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening to other people carefully serves as one of the greatest tools in assessing personality traits and tactics of interaction. USE IT! Also, MAKE SURE you do not dominate the conversation, as no one wants have their ears talked off with no opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

3.     Strike Common Ground – Most people love to talk about themselves, so utilize this embedded mindset to your advantage, though I hope it is genuine interest because that promotes great conversation and forges valuable relationships. Take an active interest in the conversation, voicing inquiries to gain further understanding regarding the subject matter at hand. When asked a question, respond in a clear, concise manner to convey exactly what you want to say, allowing the person with whom you are CONVERSING to reciprocate the interest you expressed in them (“conversate” is NOT a word and should NEVER be used!).

Hopefully, these tips will assist in improving the impressions with which you leave people. Relationship management holds a vital nature in ALL facets of life ranging from the personal sectors to that of our careers. Following the aforementioned tips should ensure that you, at the very least, do not grossly offend anyone unless you decide to throw a hot drink in his/her face and/or push him/her down some stairs—both poor choices, by the way.

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