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Entries from May 2011

Are you having the Impact you want?

17th May 2011

The aim of this blog is to help you understand what we mean by impact. Hopefully, by keeping it simple, you’ll get some hints and tips on how to be more impactful yourself. I have had several conversations recently on leading with impact or personal impact either with coaching clients, developing a personal impact workshop with colleagues or in designing a leading with impact event. What I have learned is it is difficult for people to describe and define and therefore less easy to determine what action to take. My definition of personal impact is ‘The ability to command your audience, aligning your physiology and emotions to create the impact you intend.’ If you are able to do this it will automatically affect the tone of voice you use. Why Physiology and Emotions? I often refer to the Mehrabian model on the impact of communication where 55% of what we communicate is through our physiology. This can be anything from facial expression, the way you stand or sit and breathing. It’s not about size, height or physical beauty. 38% of what we communicate is through tone of voice, which includes volume, timbre, speed, rhythm and the energy behind it. Both tone and physiology are affected by our emotions. If you are fearful, happy, stressed it will show in both and people unconsciously read these. This leaves 7% of the impact in the words you use. It’s important to recognise that all 3 elements are significant and have to be aligned. Saying you are happy when your voice tone and body are clearly saying something different gives an incongruous message. You can bet that most people get that you are not happy. So how do you ‘do’ impact? It’s easier said than done as whatever we do has an impact the question is, is it the impact you want to create? Being laid back is great if that is the impact you want to create. It’s not so good if you want people to listen to your message and remember it. It starts the moment you enter the room! Here are some simple steps you can begin to practice. 1. Ask yourself – what is my intention in the meeting? What result do I want? What atmosphere do I want to create? Having got clarity on this; 2. Ask yourself – how do I need to be to create/deliver this? What do I need to embody? Visualise how you will be walking into the room and interacting with others 3. As you do this go through a basic centring practice: a. Stand with your feet hip width apart, balanced equally on each foot with your knees relaxed. b. Lift your rib cage slightly and relax your shoulders so you stand tall yet relaxed. c. Lift you head a look straight ahead, relaxing your jaw in the process. d. Now, if your breath hasn’t already shifted breath into your abdomen. 4. Notice the shift in your body and your breath and the energy you need to create and project. 5. If possible practice how you need to be. After the event reflect: 1. Did you create the impact you wanted?2. If yes what did you learn that you can repeat or do more of?3. If not what did you notice about how you were? When did you ‘lose it?’4. What do you need to practice to do better next time?5. If possible get feedback. Practice As with all new skills and behaviours it will take lots of practice before it comes naturally, is unconscious and truly embodied The more you practice the more flexible and more self aware you become Don’t wait for the main event. Find opportunities outside of work where it’s not so important. If it doesn’t work view it as an opportunity to learn and adjust. If you want to explore more and invest in some development then look at the strozzi institute who run courses through Roffey Park in the U.K ‘Be who you are in every situation.’ Michael Johnson

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