So many things spoke to me during our Speak to Persuade session with Vanna Novak that I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I was nervous about presenting to my peers, even though it was on a subject of my choice and for a duration of only about 30 seconds. On top of that, I certainly did not want watch and analyze the recording of myself afterwards. I cringed when I watched it and felt like I looked spastic, unnatural, and ineffective. Then we started talking about first impressions and I started forming even more negative thoughts in my head about how it can be so easy to blow first impressions. The statistic of over 90% of your total impact as a communicator comes from what you convey non-verbally, also added to the pressure.
However, one thing that Vanna repeatedly pointed out is that you need to be conscious and aware of what you are saying to yourself in your head and that when you start behaving and sounding like you are sure of yourself, you start feeling more confident. I’ve noticed on the other end of the spectrum that the more negative self-talk I do, the more I start believing I’m an ineffective communicator at work which probably leads to me being somewhat ineffective. I realized I need to focus on the positive aspect of that progression and really work toward eliminating negative self-talk and instead, start behaving and acting more confident in a professional setting. I know what confident behavior looks and sounds like so if I can present and project myself in that way more consistently, I have a better chance of getting the results I am looking for. Easier said than done, but I know with practice it will become easier. One tip that I found really useful is identifying three adjectives that capture how I need and want to be perceived before presenting or even before going to a meeting where I need to contribute. This has been extremely beneficial because it gives me a target to shoot for and helps me focus on the results I want.
Another really helpful part of the session was about thinking on your feet. I tend to perform best when I have time to think something through rather than responding immediately without being given much time to develop and organize my thoughts. The five different structures that were provided (Past/Present/Future, Point/Reason/Example/Point, Problem/Cause/Alternatives/Recommendation, the Pendulum, and the Psychological Approach) truly have helped me when responding to questions on the spot. It forces me to think about things logically and quickly rather than talking in circles as I’m trying to figure out how to organize my thoughts and get my point across. I wish I had started intentionally using this approach with these structures years ago!
Overall, even though I had some negative thoughts and self-doubt regarding the Speaking to Persuade session, it turned out to be a positive and inspiring experience and I took away numerous skills to develop and apply on that job that have already helped me become a more effective communicator and will continue to do so with more practice.