We all know those women — the ones who stride with an air of grace into a room. They’re not always the prettiest or smartest. They’re not arrogant. They’re the ones who make you want to be around them.
But not everyone is comfortable walking into a room with that kind of confidence. So many of us walk straight toward people we already know. If we walk up to two people talking, we generally stand there and wait for them to notice us. Or even worse, you go to an event and instead of meeting people, you pull out your phone and studiously check email as if you are too important to meet people.
You know what's interesting? When you are with friends, I will bet you have the BEST stories. But if you meet a group of people you don’t know, suddenly you have nothing to say. Most people just think “that’s how it goes,” but you can actually treat this as a skill and improve it.
Here is some sage advice to “get our from behind the potted plant” from Aspire Ascend’s communication and public speaking coach, Jan Fox
Your boss invites you to a high-end networking event in NYC. He suddenly gets called away. You are told to, “Handle it!” A young friend of mine recently faced this situation. Petrified, she says she spent most of the evening hiding behind a big potted plant.
No connections made that night! How many times have you gone into a networking event feeling less than secure, wishing you could find the proverbial plant? You try:
Want to get out of plant land?
You will be invited in, so offer a handshake. Here comes the most often asked question at every networking event, “What do you do?”
“Get out of the elevator!” Throw away that canned pitch. They all sound alike these days. “I drive results and help you reach your fullest potential,” says nothing about who you are and what you do.
Start with your end user. Who uses what you do most?
Instead of rattling off her long title at a top consulting firm, Sandra asked the group a question: “Do you ever ride AMTRAK? Notice how the conductors now use a hand held scanner to check your ticket? It’s a lot faster and more accurate. I work with ABC - the company that developed that technology. Now we’re working on an app for soldiers on the battlefield. They can call it up to find tips to fight fatigue.”
Imagine the questions and conversations that kind of tangible, visual answer will generate!
Who are your end users? What do you do for them? What’s the next offering in the pipeline – the one that sparks your passion?
Let it show as you talk about it.
Start there. You won’t end up behind the potted plant ever again!
Some great advice, right? But you also need to be your authentic self---no more, no less. Some other suggestions to help you be confident are to stop taking everything personally. Do you know any confident woman who takes everything personally? Those with true confidence know that any perceived ego blow is more a reflection of the speaker than of them.
When you’re able to hear criticism and not take it personally, your reactions change. Life isn’t as much of a drama. Confidence emerges naturally with life.
And finally, ask empowering questions. What is an empowering question? It is one that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. It requires the person to gather their thoughts and explain them with some level of detail. How do you know if your question is empowering? One hint is the first word used in asking the question. If your question begins with the words, “What”, “Why”, “Where” “Who” or “How”, it is an empowering question. A great question: “Why did this work?”
Simply, the more empowering questions we ask, the more confidant we will become. When empowering questions become second nature, you have no choice but to find confidence-inducing answers. And that is a sure pathway out from behind that potted plant!