FIRST, Stop trying to be impressive
If you are in a situation where you need to be impressive… a job interview, a sales call, a negotiation, a presentation — one of the worst things you can do is to try, on purpose, to be impressive.
When you set your focus on trying to be impressive you immediately put yourself in an acting mode. It makes you guarded, over-managed, defensive, and more nervous.
No one is ever more impressive when they are trying to be impressive.
Trying to be impressive puts you in a mode of “convincing” and convincing-mode is one of the weakest positions you can put yourself in.
Here are 3 ideas to actually BE impressive — by NOT trying so hard.
1. Think Useful vs. Impressive
At one point I learned to stop focusing on (worrying about) being impressive on purpose. Instead I focused on trying to be genuinely useful.
The first step in truly impressing someone is to give them something genuinely useful or valuable.
The value is what creates the positive impression.
So before you walk into the situation, put some thought into what the person or audience will truly value and prepare to deliver that.
2. Think “Helping a Friend” instead of “Convincing”
This is a technique I developed when I would get really nervous before talking to an important executive.
Sometimes your goal in the moment is to actually convince someone of something… to sell something, to get budget, to get agreement…
But you need to put the convincing idea aside, because convincing-mode comes across really bad. Think about how ugly it feels when someone is trying to convince you of something.
If you focus on convincing, it will weigh on your nerves.
So instead of thinking of positioning, selling, marketing or convincing, (and getting nervous) think,
“What would I say if this executive, client, hiring manager or prospect sitting across the table from me was actually my best friend?”
First and foremost I would be much more comfortable and less nervous with my friend.
I would be thinking, hello friend…1. How are you? I’m actually interested. What’s important to you? And 2. How can I help?
And if what I have to present is not genuinely interesting or helpful to them, then I wouldn’t drag them through my presentation!
I wouldn’t do that to my best friend!
I’d talk about whatever would actually help them.
Back to the executive…
This idea doesn’t mean you cannot have the intention to persuade or to sell, it just means that by treating them the way you would treat your friend, you’ll be less nervous and you’ll actually do a better job persuading and selling because you’ve put yourself in the mode of genuinely trying to be helpful!
Spend the time on them, not your thing…
I can tell you that I’ve spent 52 minutes of a 1 hour meeting discussing their problems with teen-agers, their boss, a challenging project or colleague…and in that conversation have found an authentic hook to offer something of value to get to the next meeting or the next step — in the last 8 minutes.
And I can tell you that this was a much more successful outcome than I would have achieved if I had tried to be impressive with my presentation starting in minute 1.
3. Drop the Business Speak
Another hazard of trying too hard to be impressive is focusing on sounding smart instead of focusing on really communicating.
I tend see these big-word, business-speak, smart-sounding people coming across as arrogant and contrived — which, by the way is also not impressive. It puts people off. And it’s also not the way you would talk to your best friend.
It always amazes me how some people actively insist that talking in big words will make others think they are more impressive. It doesn’t work.
Because clarity is more useful than simply sounding smart.
Never confuse being clear for not being smart.
Executive Presence – The Executive Playbook
This month in my online professional development program, the Executive Mentoring Group, the topic is Executive Presence.
You can get this Executive Playbook Playbook (Webinar + tools and guided action planning), live coaching with me, and more for FREE by starting a free 30 day trial.
Take a look at the Playbook on Executive Presence.
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)