I think my shyness is holding me back. I’m an analyst for a fund manger, and though I’m technically on the ball, I know I’m quieter than those around me and people don’t notice what I say, particularly at meetings and networking events, which I dread. How can I have more personal impact?
A lot of people who don’t have the impact they want usually find it’s to do with one of what I call the three Vs of communication: visual, vocal and verbal. Visual communication is all about body language – it may seem simple but posture, holding eye contact, and how you dress are incredibly important. When you first meet people, they’ll form judgements within around seven seconds, and that’s all about that initial visual impact. If you’re forthright and greet people enthusiastically and openly, they’ll not only like you but also assume you’re intelligent and worth listening to, even though they have no evidence for it. If your shoes are scuffed and you shrink away, they’ll be turned off, even though you may be very talented. Though those impressions are formed on the most superficial evidence, changing them takes a lot of time.
As far as the vocal side of things is concerned, speak up! A lot of people don’t realise their voices are so soft they can barely be heard, so be prepared to turn it up a notch.
But even more important is the verbal side – what you say. Low impact people’s language is full of wimp talk – saying thinks like “could you possibly help me” or “would you mind” rather than power talk statements like “I want your help with this now.”
The three Vs are external manifestations, but ultimately it goes much deeper – a lot of people have thoughts running through their minds that don’t serve them. You might think you really hate networking events, that you never know what to say in meetings, but you need to properly consider what would be a more useful mindset to have. It’s about allowing yourself to think it through and replace the negative with something more positive. If you seriously have in mind the goal of having more impact and raising your profile, acknowledge that this is how you feel and then make a better choice. If you don’t identify the thought that’s holding you back, you won’t make the change.