Professionally intimidating soft skills get in the way of making your message accessible across your organization. Consider how colleagues and clients rate the quality of your soft skills in terms of context and clarity. Do you communicate to tell and show? Or, alternatively, do you communicate to show off and intimidate?
The dynamics of team meetings and even conference presentations you attend are important, whether virtual or in-person. Are you engaged and want to learn more? Alternatively, do you tune out because the presenter’s exclusive demeanor and content turn you off?
In a recent round-table, my colleagues and I evaluated whether our presentations were professionally intimidating or accessible.
This mastermind is cross-functional, which should be no surprise to those of you familiar with me. 😉 Each colleague is from a different professional discipline. However, we all fall into the “left-brain / STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics”) bucket or the business-sales-marketing bucket. Some of us are senior leaders, while others are mid-career professionals. Plus we include some early career professionals, as well. Are you building a more professionally diverse network? Or is yours homogeneous: limited to your professional discipline and hiring tier?
Oh, and each of our mastermind sessions is never a professional inquisition. It is fun, virtual (we live all over the world), and so very beneficial! Because we take time to build trust, we have conversations which are sometimes difficult or awkward. Ultimately, we put our best professional selves out there to get each other to where we really need to go. Our objective is for each one of us, in turn, to pay it forward. And our mission is to build trust amongst our clients, so everyone gets to where they really need to go.
As we share our presentations, we evaluate for whether our soft skills make us professionally intimidating or accessible. Usually, first reactions fall into these three areas:
- “Oh. So I should dumb-down the points I am making so people understand what I am saying? Maybe they need to get smarter.”
- “Gee. I am not as skilled at communicating and presenting as you are. I rely on your presentations as the templates for my own. I guess it’s time for me to own my style, message, and information points.”
- “Huh. I wasn’t really considering how what I am saying looks and sounds from everyone’s perspective. This habit is ingrained in how I am trained to communicate and present.”
As we collaborate towards less professionally intimidating outcomes, we analyze the top three trends which impact the accessibility of our presentations. In this recent session, we discovered that:
- Over time, presentation formats and communication styles become entrenched in professional traditions. As a result, we end up in “communication auto-pilot.” However, our goal is refining / updating / customizing at least 20% of the presentation for each audience’s perspective to keep things new, next, and innovative. Otherwise, our presentation is stale and immovable. Updating moves things forward, because in order to improve, we have to research our audiences. How about you; what is your process?
- In addition, we tend to rely on the professional terminology and acronyms of our respective professional disciplines. Also, we assume that everyone in the audience (or around the small table) understands what we are saying. However, we may not check for comprehension or engage in conversation that exposes communication gaps. What we assume about other people is the root cause of all sorts of communication and collaboration disconnects. We may inadvertently be marginalizing or intimidating people instead of engaging them in our enlightening information. Are you unconsciously creating these off-putting dynamics?
- Finally, the presentation that works well for one person is never the best template for anyone else. Is there a formula to follow? Absolutely, and I am happy to show you! However, simply copying a presentation format or speaking style does not fool anyone listening to you or viewing you. Rather, that tack is like wearing a set of clothing that is three sizes too big for you. Plus, you make the audience uncomfortable, as well. Alternatively, when your message becomes your professional mantra, you wear it like a second skin. As a result of your own comfort level, clarity and confidence, audiences and small groups are all-in and participatory. Are you ready to discover your professional purpose and mantra? Then click here and let’s begin, together!
To get to where you really need to go, it is time to become less professionally intimidating and more professionally accessible. After all, the future of our business environments favors individuals who are more professionally visible, cross-functionally relevant and strategically valuable across the organization.
Searching for a coaching catalyst to get you unstuck professionally? Looking for a meeting or event speaker focused on what is new and next? Then engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person.
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Babette Ten Haken’s One Millimeter Mindset™ programs catalyze people who solve problems differently to collaborate more successfully. Become more professionally visible, cross-functionally relevant, and strategically valuable as you create and implement innovative and robust business outcomes together. Babette is a business-oriented STEM professional, qualitative Voice of the Customer facilitator, PMI-certified Wicked Problem Solver, and Six Sigma Green Belt (Quality). She is a member of the ASQ, SHRM, PMI, the National Speakers Association. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here. Image source: Adobe Stock.