Friday, August 10, 2007

Reputation Precedes Your Speech

According to John Rayner, in a recent article in Austalian Training Review, your reputation often precedes your presentation or your message.

What do people perceive about you when they see you walk to the lectern, or enter a room, or hear your voice on the phone? “This person does not look like he or she wants to be here.” Or “Oh, my, I’ve got to listen to this person complain again.” Or “I’ve heard this person speak and she or he goes on forever.”

People will not have a positive mental set to listen to you if you have a less than stellar communication reputation. Each time you talk, do what you can to leave a positive impression so that person will be ready to listen the next time you call or speak. Here are some tips to make that happen.

Determine to have an upbeat tone of voice when you initiate conversation. You can do this by punching out key words and raising your voice as you finish a significant sentence. If you are talking by phone or preparing for a meeting, converse with a person in your office to warm up your voice before you go to the phone or to that important conference.

Look and sound pleasant to the person to whom you are talking. If the person you are communicating with seems a little uncomfortable, you may be making him or her feel ill at ease. Consider your tone of voice, your posture, and your facial expression. Sit up in your chair, lean forward, gesture toward the person, and smile to show that you want to hear what the other person has to contribute to the conversation.

Take a moment to prepare mentally before you make a phone call, deliver that presentation, or moderate the meeting. Close the door and make a note about your opinion or position and what you anticipate will happen.

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