Knee-knocking and leg bouncing

10Nov09

We all know about the ability of our emotions to affect us physically.  Obvious examples: when human beings are sad, water might just pour from their eyes.  For some of us, when we feel embarrassed, our faces turn bright red.   Or, when we are nervous, some of us go into power sweating.   Our bodies seem determined to blatantly betray us! 

I used to be knee-knocking nervous when I had to speak in public.  I know there are many of you who have not experienced this and you think “knee-knocking” is just a metaphor.  I assure you – it really happens to people.   I have actually had my knees knock, my voice shake, my face turn red, and my palms sweat all in the same presentation.  Is there an award for this?  

 Thankfully, with practice, we all can get better at public speaking and get some control over these bodies that have minds of their own. 

There are other physical things which we choose to do that can diminish the power of our personal presence or brand.  Like sitting in a meeting and bouncing your leg up and down. Might as well say, “We need to get on with this, I have more important things to do.” 

Or, what about those people who carry on a side conversation with another person while someone is speaking to the group as a whole.  Might as well say, “What you are saying to the group is not as important as what I am saying to my buddy.” 

But the most common thing we do that discounts our presence,  is interrrupt others when they are speaking with us.   Interrupters are saying “I have something more important to say than you do.” or “I have heard enough from you.”    Interrupting is so common that when I am with someone who never interrrupts me, I never fail to notice it and am impressed by it.  It makes me want to be sure I am earning their attention and that I am adding value. 

And guess what?  People who are at the top of organizations interrupt far less often than people lower in the organization. It’s not that people at the top are more fascinated with us, they just understand the power of completely focusing their attention on you.  Try it.  It is one of the most powerful things you can do to increase your personal brand’s influence.

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