I am sure that when you have an important meeting, an interview or you know you will be the one who all the attention is focused on, you go through a mental checklist of the things you have to do to get ready. This week, I am offering you a list of 7 things NEVER to do before you speak:

  1. Sit with your legs crossed.
  2. Pass time on your smartphone.
  3. Stand/sit with your arms crossed or held tight against your body.
  4. Hunching over, holding yourself in positions that make you small.
  5. Mentally race through your talking points.
  6. Worry about what you forgot to prepare, whether you’ll remember all the details, etc.
  7. Engage in busy or chaotic energy.

 When your impression matters and you want to come across strong, steer clear of these 7 things. Trust me, it makes a huge difference!

To give further credibility to what I am saying, I invite you to watch the Ted Talk at the bottom of this post by Amy Cuddy.  Amy is a social psychologist and an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. She uses experimental methods to investigate how people perceive and influence each other and themselves. Her research suggests that judgments made from a person’s body language determine outcomes such as who gets hired and who doesn’t, when we are more or less likely to take risks, and why we admire, envy, or avoid people. Even more interestingly, the way you tune into your body actually changes how you show up and are perceived. Being IN your body impacts your physiology and chemistry making you more or less confident, more or less stressed, and more or less at ease with a situation.

Amy’s talk explains why we should avoid 1-4 in the above list. Behaviors 5-7 are instant ways to get stuck into what I call your “head bubble”. From my work, I have experienced that when we are in our head bubble, we can’t be fully present and we act from a place of self-consciousness. We come across as lacking confidence, being controlled, and not having a genuine connection with our audience.

Here’s what we should we do instead:

  • Find ways to take up physical space in the minutes before presenting yourself. Uncross your legs, plant your feet, and open your arms to your sides. Find a private spot or head to the bathroom and stand with arms and legs outstretched for two minutes.
  • Focus on the energy inside of your body.
  • Feel into the value you’re bringing to the table.

By doing these things for just two minutes before you speak, you will walk into the room and be more engaging, more dynamic and will greatly increase the chance of getting what you want from your interactions. And remember, it’s not just me telling you this – Amy’s work, based upon scientific research, proves that these techniques work!

Leave me a note under the blog post and let me know what happens when you try this. I would love to hear your comments. Until the next time, have a great week!