Is your Presence Powerful or Powerless?

By JoAnne Foist

iStock_000016743467_SmallHave you ever been passed over for an opportunity and wondered what the person selected had that you didn’t? Most likely they had a more confident and powerful presence.

Did you know that people judge you within 30 seconds of seeing you?  This means that before you even say a word, you’ve made an impact. And even when you start speaking, over 80% of what you communicate is still through your body language.  So the question is this, are you making a positive or a negative impression?  Not, sure?  Check yourself against this list to see if your presence is powerful or powerless.

Do You Have Good Posture?

A straight upright position communicates self-confidence and builds trust among others.  Practice standing up strait with your shoulders back and your head held high to project a powerful presence.  If you find yourself slouching, you’re communicating insecurity and indifference…that would be a powerless presence.

How’s Your Eye Contact?

Direct eye contact is another sign of confidence and trust. When you look someone in the eye, you’re making a great impression and generating confidence and trust.  If you dart your eyes around, or constantly look down, you’re communicating disinterest and insecurity…not a very positive impression.

Are you Smiling?

Smiling raises your energy, creates trust and attracts people to you.   Smiling also makes you more likable and approachable. If you’re frowning, it communicates displeasure and worry and pushes people away.

Check Your Body Movement

Take wider steps and keep your body positioned forward with your head neutral.  As with the above three postures, this communicates confidence and projects a powerful presence. Plus, walking in this manner actually increases your own energy and confidence. If you walk with your shoulders down and/or your head down, you’re communicating lack of energy and confidence, in other words, a powerless presence.

How did you fair? If not so good, then you could be missing out on huge opportunities! So start making these adjustments to your body language today! If you want additional tips for creating a more powerful presence through body positioning, check out our article “It’s True…Actions Speak Louder Than Words.” You’ll find more detailed instructions for good body language, plus there’s a free body language tip sheet available for download.

And, if you’re serious about building confidence, download our free eBook, Incredible Confidence. You’ll learn how to exude confidence in everything you do. Plus, you’ll receive the Incredible Confidence training series for free!

Serious about building a Powerful Presence? Attend our Powerful Presence Workshop and lean how to get better in everything you do. You’ll leave the workshop with a more powerful presence and improved communications!

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What makes a Great Leader…well, Great?

Business Partners Shaking HandsBy JoAnne Foist

Think for a moment about the greatest leaders you know…what makes them stand out from the pack?

While many adjectives can be used to describe a great leader, and our definitions of leadership might differ, we all know a great leader when see one. Think of the leader you most admire…how do they make you feel and what skills do you think they possess?

Do you want to be known as an exceptional leader? I sure hope so. You don’t have to run a company or start a revolution to be a leader; leadership is demonstrated by how we live our lives everyday. Below are seven habits of great leaders that, with practice, you can master.

Seven Habits of Great Leaders

  1. Confident – Great leaders have confidence in their ability to get things done. And when they do not have previous experience with an initiative or challenge, they have the confidence to know they will figure it out and/or procure the right resources to do so.
  1. Inspirational – Great leaders inspire action. They inspire their team to be the best they can be and they help them get there. They do what it takes to set their team up for success.
  1. High-Integrity – Great leaders lead by example. They have strong values and can be counted on to be consistent, honest and fair. They make ethical choices, they practice what they preach and support their team in doing the same.
  1. Communicators – Great leaders are kind, smart and courageous in their communications. They are proactive and inclusive communicators who go the extra mile to create clear (and often concise) messages in order to ensure everyone understands the vision, goals, direction, etc. Great leaders listen to their team and establish systems and habits to ensure ease of communications throughout their organization and customer base. Great leaders also realize that revolutionary ideas can come from anywhere and so they communicate with everyone!
  1. Positive – Great leaders use optimal thinking to motivate others and focus on a successful future. They see the opportunity in every challenge and keep everyone focused on overcoming obstacles and continual growth.
  1. Tenacious – Great leaders demonstrate perseverance when pursuing their goals. They hold firm to their vision and see it through to completion. They accept roadblocks, pitfalls and hurdles as obstacles to overcome – not reasons to quit.
  1. Supportive – Great leaders follow the platinum rule. They support their team the way the team needs to be supported and they provide a safe environment to work and share ideas. They encourage and support risk taking and challenge the status quo. They care about the well-being and success of each team member.

Using these traits as a barometer, how great is your leadership? A quick way to up your game is to select a few areas where you aren’t so successful and practice the behaviors indicated. Pay attention to the changes you witness.  Leadership is about leading ourselves as much as it is leading others and developing your leadership skills is an investment that pays dividends through the course of your life.

Take the first step in building leadership muscle by registering for our free training class on Building Incredible Confidence. You can start by downloading our free eBook, “The Confidence Habit.” It’s full of tips for developing your confidence and, by applying just a few of the techniques mentioned you will begin feeling more bold and seeing the response to your improved skill.

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If you are a high-performing professional who is interested in being more successful in EVERYTHING you do; then check out Excelerate’s Powerful Presence Program. It is a very unique program designed for people who have a track record of success and who want to exponentially grow their business or advance their career to the executive level.

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Confidence and You

iStock_000017880167_DoubleThink of a recent social or business gathering you attended. Who were the people that projected confidence? You probably remember them well because confident people radiate a warmth and enthusiasm that draws people toward them. They approach these occasions as opportunities to meet, greet and grow. Less confident people, however, generally hide in the background or stick closely to people they know.

We all yearn to have confidence – to feel as if we belong. Here are a few tips to help you feel confident no matter what you’re doing or whom you’re with:

Smile – Confident people smile – they smile with their mouth and their eyes. Their energy is positive. Even when they’re nervous inside, they don’t show it on their face.

Breathe – If you feel a little anxious around people or situations that are unfamiliar to you, take a few deep breaths to relax. Slow, mindful inhales and exhales lower anxiety and nervousness immediately.

Show Interest –  Take the focus off yourself and put it on others by asking thoughtful questions and listening with interest. People with confidence care about others. So always ask, listen and learn.

Use Positive Self Talk – Give yourself positive messages, reminding yourself of your strengths, talents and successes. Recite a simple mantra for when you are feeling anxious or uncertain.

New situations can make anyone feel a bit anxious and uncertain. By applying these simple tips, you will feel less nervous, more empowered, and more confident.

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It’s True – Actions Speak Louder Than Words!

bigstockphoto_Businessteam_At_A_Meeting_878809How your body tells the world what you’re really thinking.

When I was starting out in my career, I used to rush through the halls with my head down and stayed completely focused on my tasks.  When someone would stop at my office door, I would respond with a quick glance over my shoulder, or without moving my eyes from my computer.  I thought I was being efficient; I thought I was demonstrating that I was a focused hard worker…I was wrong on both accounts.

Much to my surprise, my colleagues provided feedback that I was unapproachable and standoffish.  I was shocked!  I thought I was just staying focused and providing a positive example.  Those close to me knew I was nice and a team player.  But my non-verbal communications were telling most of my peers that they were unimportant, which was the last thing I wanted to communicate.  Since then, I’ve changed my body language to be more open and inviting.  And you know what? I am much more productive.

After I made some changes, my office relationships got much stronger, I felt closer to the team and I received several promotions.  What I’ve learned is that over 80% of what we communicate is done through our body language.  So when our verbal and non-verbal messages are in conflict, it throws our audience off and they will always believe our body language over our words.

What does this mean for you?  It means you could be self-sabotaging yourself without even knowing it, just as I was.  Not to worry, it’s happened to the best of us.  All it takes is a little body-awareness to get your body language in-sync with your verbal communications.  Here are some illustrations to show the difference between good and bad non-verbal communications.

Which person would you want to work with?

iStock.woman virtual.small Stressed man

I hope you said the smiling lady. The man’s body language is communicating that he’s stressed out and unapproachable, whereas the woman is smiling and approachable.  When we’re at our desks, it’s import to keep good posture, relax our jaw and smile.  Smiling relieves stress and helps you think more clearly.  This will make you feel better and you’ll be more inviting to co-workers and leadership.

Who would you rather talk with?

Boring Phone Conversation iStock_000007701331XSmall

The man who is smiling on the phone appears to be more open and easier to work with.  Believe it or not, people can feel your body language over the phone.

Now that you’ve got the swing of this, here are some tried and true tips for showing good body language.

  1. Smile – Smiling is contagious.  When you smile, it makes others feel at ease and you’ll seem much more approachable.  Plus, it makes others smile back and creates better rapport.
  2. Make Eye Contact/Keep Your Eyes Level – Looking up or down communicates that you don’t want to talk with others.  It makes you appear standoffish.  Making eye contact communicates that you’re open and inviting.
  3. Stand Straight – When you stand up strait with your shoulders back and your head held high, you are telling the world that you are a confident individual – and this is one of the main components of executive presence.  Slouching communicates insecurity and a host of other messages that you DON’T want to be sending.

Great body language and facial expressions is the key ingredient to having Executive Presence and may be the difference between getting the job, winning a client or securing a high-level promotion.

To get more tips for using your body to effectively communicate, download our “10 Essential Body Language Tips” – following these guidelines will help you communicate that you’re poised and confident. Click here for a free download.

If you are serious about wanting to up your game and communicate more powerfully, we invite you to attend Powerful Presence, our 3-Day Intensive Workshop where you will join other high-level executives, business owners and professionals to learn how to leverage your personal talents in order to create an amazing and Powerful Executive Presence.

Five More Reasons to Smile…Starting with You’ll Be More Attractive

iStock_000017948519Medium By JoAnne Foist 

I hope you’re smiling now!  In the last post, we talked about the benefits of smiling.  Incase you weren’t convinced, here are five more reasons to smile:

  1. Smiling Increases Your Attractiveness and Appeal – A study conducted at the University of Aberdeen found that “for judgments of faces with direct gaze, attractiveness preferences were stronger for smiling faces than for faces with neutral expressions.”  The study concluded that people identify individuals most likely “to reciprocate one’s own social interest” as being the most attractive.  So when you smile and look other’s in the eye, you are seen as more appealing.
  2. Smiling Builds Relationships and Trust – When you genuinely smile, you are perceived as being more altruistic and thus communicate a sincere interest in the other person.  Genuinely smiling can even create trust between strangers. Which means that smiling can have a positive impact on your interactions such as working with teams, interviewing, leading a group, negotiating, presenting, etc.  When trust needs to be established, a smile is a great way to start.
  3. Smiling Creates Greater Awareness and Mental Flexibility – Smiling increases your ability to see the “forest through the tees” which allows you to see the big picture beyond the situation at hand.  Meaning you’ll be more flexible.  Try it.  Smile when you’re trying to solve complex problems, understand a situation or point-of-view, and learn new information.  You’ll be more open to new ideas and insights needed to find the best solution.
  4. Smiling Can Generate a Higher Income – A study conducted by Kathi Tidd and Joan Lockard in a cocktail lounge confirmed that genuine smiling was shown to bring in more tips than a minimal smile.   The researchers believe this is due to “reciprocal altruism.” An example of reciprocal altruism would be an individual believing that if they perform altruistic acts, these acts would be reciprocated. When someone smiles, most people feel inclined to smile back. When someone does something nice for someone, most people feel inclined to do something nice in return.   As a side note, this concept is sometimes referred to as “the power of reciprocity,” and it’s been influencing marketing and sales techniques for years (but that’s a subject for another day).
  5. Smiling is Contagious – For the same reason stated above, when you smile, most individuals feel inclined to smile back.  And, based on all the positive health benefits, that means that smiling makes others’ feel better too.  When you smile, you’re promoting health and happiness.

Still smiling?  After reviewing all this evidence, it just makes sense to smile as much as possible.  To use another idiom, “put on a happy face.”  No extra time or money is required to perform this activity and the payback can be realized immediately.

Want to learn more about improving your outlook, appeal and presence?  We invite you to attend Powerful Presence, our 3-Day Intensive Workshop.   You’ll learn how to leverage your personal talents to be your best self and create an amazing and Powerful Presence.

So Simple, Easy and at No Cost! Smiling is a Silver Bullet for Happiness, Stress Reduction and More!

iStock_000019630934_ExtraSmallBy JoAnne Foist

When I coach runners, I’ve always told them to smile when they train and it will feel easier.  They thought I was crazy, but it worked!  In fact, you can always see me smiling when I am out running; it just makes me happier and makes the effort seem easier.  You’ve probably heard the popular idioms, “Smile at the world and the world smiles back,” and “grin and bear it.”  Conventional wisdom says that smiling makes things better, even easier.  And, the good news is that research has been proving what conventional wisdom has said for years.  Smiling has been proven to reduce stress, boost immunity, increase positive feelings, decrease depression, increase attractiveness and appeal, improve relationships, increase awareness and mental flexibility, lower perceived effort and produce higher income Whew…that’s a long list.

In essence, smiling is one of the simplest acts that you can practice daily to achieve positive physical and psychological heath benefits.  

Smiling has been scientifically proven to positively boost a person’s mood and lower their anxiety.  Psychological scientists Tara Kraft and Sarah Pressman of the University of Kansas conducted a study to determine if there was scientific evidence that smiling affects individuals’ stress recovery.  They looked at two types of smiles: standard and genuine (Duchenne) smiles. Standard smiles use only the mouth muscles and genuine smiles use the muscles around the mouth and the eyes.  The first phase of the study was training participants to hold chopsticks in their mouth in such a manner that would either create a neutral facial expression, a standard smile, or a genuine smile.  The second phase was testing which consisted of the participants keeping the chopsticks in their mouth, as they had been taught, while performing two different multitasking activities that would cause stress.  Half of the entire group was told to smile while they preformed the task.  The participants’ heart rates and self-reported levels of stress were measured while they performed each activity.  The results of the study showed that participants who were instructed to smile had lower heart rates after activity recovery then the participants who held a neutral expression.  Even the participants who were forced to smile due to the chopstick positioning, but were not told to smile, experienced lower heart rates than the neutral expression group, although the difference was not as great. The group who held a genuine smile and who were told to smile had the most significant reduction in stress.  The researchers concluded, “These findings show that smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.”  See, smiling makes things feel easier!

Because smiling reduces stress, it allows the body’s immune system to function better. This means that smiling could protect people from catching the common cold or flu.  Added to that, because smiling causes lower blood pressure, it can support heart health. Continue reading

Yes, Power Posing Builds Your Confidence!

iStock_000002085175LargeBy JoAnne Foist

When I was a kid I used to throw my arms up in victory before a big test, performance or anytime I wanted to pump myself up.  Then afterwards, I would throw my arms up again in celebration.  I still do this today whenever I need a little boost before a race, presentation or important meeting.  In case you were wondering, since I’ve grown up I usually do this in the bathroom so as not to be considered strange (I do miss those “care for not” days of youth).   I coached my teams to do this and, while they said they felt better, they often wondered if it was just in their heads, just a psychosomatic response.  We’re such an empirical society, that we often want scientific proof before we’ll believe something.  That’s why I was so excited to watch Amy Cuddy’s talk on TED Talk, “Your body language shapes who you are.”  In this talk she explains that holding a “Power Position” such as standing with your arms in the “V” position for two minutes, lowers your cortisol and raises your testosterone.  Meaning, you’ll feel 20% more powerful and 25% less stressed.  She states that “Our bodies change our minds.”

In addition to changing our own minds, it appears that it changes other’s minds too.  In the same study, participants who did the “Power Pose” before an interview were rated as more competent and desirable.  Talk about positive communications!  I believe this because I’ve experienced it.  It’s worked for me and countless others I know.  Think about it…how many times have you thrown your hands up in victory when you accomplished something great?  So, why not do it beforehand to get that same feeling?  The next time you feel anxious, stand with your hands held high in a “V” shape for two minutes.  See how you feel and let us know what you experience.

If you’d like to learn more about feeling more powerful and building your self-confidence, attend our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop.