Perception is Reality…At Least for the Moment

I always remind my clients that “everything communicates”. How you appear in that moment, and sound in that moment to your listener, send a message about you.

The ability to be natural, who you are, and authentic, this is most people’s goal. I believe a great way to reach that goal is to: strengthen your ability to control the impression you make on others.  Perception is reality…. At least for the moment you are communicating it.

So the question is how does one control this in a world where so many things feel beyond our control?

Get ready- because taking your communication effectiveness to its next level is a 3 Level process.

Level one: Self-awareness. What is the current message you are sending? How are you projecting confidence and what may be taking away from that? Often my clients will say, “ I don’t like the sound of my voice” or “I never watch myself on video”. If you don’t hear it or see it, how can you know what is working?  Level one for many is the hardest part. Be brave.  

Try this: Turn your video on your phone and deliver a message to yourself, maybe it’s a quick business update or a voice message you’re about to leave. Watch it back. Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the center.

  • On the left, note things that you see yourself doing that are projecting confidence. For example: Words that you’re saying that show understanding. Gestures you may be doing that are adding to the delivery of your message.
  • On the right hand side, jot down things you see that are taking credibility away from the message. Is there enough eye contact? Are your sentences clear of tentative sounding language? Is the voice tone matching the intention? Love your message?

Here’s where having your own Coach will be helpful. Because in addition to areas you notice, A good Coach will round out the list with some specifics you were not aware of. For example, care and feeding of dry vocal chords, especially if you are a ‘mouth breather’. That is someone who has no need to stop talking to take a breath thru the nose. He/she is able to breathe in thru their mouth and quickly exhale to produce sound.

Level 2:  Boost the Tool Kit

If you’re reading this, you already have a set of tools that are working for you. To complete Level 2 and reach that next level of effectiveness, list tools under headings where you can add tools under each. Areas could include: your nonverbal messaging, speech clarity, sounding confident. Then add 3 to 5 more specific communication tools to incorporate under each area. For example increase nonverbal credibility strengthening awareness of speaker space in front of you. Achieve by incorporating three purposeful gestures that you can use when delivering message you used for practice. For example, if you’re talking about growth, start with the hand facing each other and have them move slowly apart.

Level 3: Practice Practice Practice

With your arsenal of new tools, use one third of your awake time each day to practice. Rerecord the message using the chosen technique. It may feel unnatural at first, but by practicing it you will create muscle memory.  

Look for opportunities throughout your day. Whether it’s delivering your coffee order, or updating your team on a current project. The more you practice, the more habitual and natural the gestures become. A good coach will give you several tools to practice your structure and delivery.

With a bit of grit and determination you can now ask yourself – what is the perception of your listener? This person speaks with confidence!

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