Acting Techniques And Their Impact In The Boardroom

imagesWhat do actors and business professionals have in common? They can both benefit from acting techniques as a method to boost their careers – and their executive presence. In a recent article entitled “From the Drama Room to the Boardroom” (insert link here), Ivana Chubbuck, acting coach and owner of Ivana Chubbuck Studios, discusses how she uses empowerment to train stars of the likes of Beyoncé, Brad Pit and Halle Barry. Her method has began to catch on, and is finding its way to Fortune 500 companies as a training method.

The essence of The Chubbuck Technique is using emotions, pain and trauma to fuel and enhance a person’s ability to get what they want. It is about taking the negativity in one’s life and harnessing that power into manifestations of positive energy.

Positive energy leads to confidence, happiness and personal power. These are all aspects of executive presence (or specifically, gravitas) that are necessary for any high level executive to possess, especially if they are to be considered for the next promotion.

Needless to say, acting lessons and techniques can also be an extremely effective way to boost your confidence in the realm of public speaking and presentations. For many, presenting a major project in a boardroom in front of colleagues can be daunting at best, however a clear, concise, and confident presentation is necessary to be effective. Practicing speaking in front of others in the form of an acting lesson may take the edge off, if ever so slightly, when you’re getting ready for your next boardroom presentation.

Evidently, there are a number of reasons why thinking outside the box and looking into acting lessons to heighten your EP is a good idea. These techniques can help boost confidence, increase your presentation skills, enhance your ability to speak publicly (and confidently), and turn negative energy into positive energy. Additionally, it might be a great place to network!

At Corporate Class, we are extremely lucky to have Marjorie Malpass on our team of consultants. Marjorie is an actor, writer and educator and is currently, among other things, faculty at the Second City Training Center in Toronto. Her CV is extensive, including performances on Broadway and winning the “Best new stand up” award with the Laff Riot Girls in Vancouver. Marjorie plays an integral part in our two-day executive presence workshop as she offers top-of-the-line communication skills training to our participants in a fun, charismatic and effective way.

 

 

 

In Honour of National Etiquette Week – Back To The Basics


tea cup
This week, America is celebrating National Etiquette Week, which is a national recognition of etiquette and protocol in all areas of day-to-day life, including business, social, dining, travel, technology, and international protocol. There are various events being held across the country, but the focus is to raise awareness about etiquette and to encourage people to act with courtesy,
respect and dignity.

Unfortunately, Canada does not have an equivalent to National Etiquette Week, however that does not mean we can’t celebrate alongside our neighbors to the south! In honour of National Etiquette Week, this post will offer some back-to-the-basics reminders of a few very fundamental aspects of etiquette – the things we often forget or don’t deem necessary, but are in fact the building blocks of etiquette, and the foundation of our EP.

A few simple reminders:

  1. Handshakes: handshakes are often the first point of physical contact between you and a colleague or someone you’re meeting for the first time, and therefore they are of crucial importance. Remember to always offer your hand right away as a gesture of respect and acknowledgement. It is important to shake the other person’s hand firmly and to make full contact with their hand (no half handshakes, please!). Your handshake says a lot about you, so practice it with friends or colleagues.
  2. The dining table: of course there is enough here for many blog posts, however I will touch upon a few basics, things we may often forget are important. Never begin eating your meal until the host has started eating theirs; that is your cue to begin. This may go without saying, but no elbows on the table! Not only is it rude, but it also gives the impression that you have bad posture. Perhaps most importantly, don’t ever chew with your mouth open, no matter how informal the meal. It is rude, lazy, and not very appetizing! Lastly, don’t forget to place your knife and fork in the proper finishing position: knife on the right, blade facing in, and fork on the left, in a 10 and 4 position.
  3. Eye contact: one might not initially think that eye contact has much to do with etiquette at all, on the contrary, it has everything to do with it. When you hold eye contact with someone who’s talking, you are actually showing him or her that you are listening and paying attention. It shows respect, awareness, and that you’re interested in what they have to say. The same is true the other way around; if you are speaking, hold eye contact with your audience, no matter how big or small, as it shows that you care about what you’re talking about, and it will help engage your audience so that they begin to care as well.

National Etiquette Week should be celebrated everywhere; etiquette possess no boundaries. Take this week and challenge yourself to pay attention to your manners, etiquette, and overall presence. Don’t forget the little things, because it is those little things, such as basic table manners, which truly speak to your Executive Presence.

 

 

The (Often Dreaded) Conference Call: Survival Tips and Tricks

Conference calls are often an inevitable part of any major company’s management system, and they are, more often than not, a dreaded exercise for those involved. We live in an age where we expect instant gratification and in which we’ve developed short attention spans; we anticipate our questions being answered immediately, we expect those to whom we’re talking to listen effectively and react accordingly, and we hope (and often expect) that our problems will be solved promptly. This is due, in large part, to the age of technology. Technology, such as email, text messages and Internet on-the-go, has led to this sense of entitlement, this desire for instantaneity. During a conference call, the likelihood of instant gratification is slim, and your full attention is required to get the most out of the call. It is imperative that you take this into account and adjust your behaviour accordingly in order to protect your EP (executive presence).

conference call        The reason why instant gratification is unlikely during a conference call is simply due to the amount of people on the phone at the same time; there are many opinions on the line, many voices to be heard, and many questions to be asked and answered. Our egos can often get in the way and we may abandon what we know to be good, professional behaviour in order to get our thoughts heard. We may also think that our EP is protected because our colleagues can’t see our face, but that is not the case.

Of course, every conference call has a different purpose, however there are some simple tips and tricks that can help you make it through your conference call, all while protecting, and perhaps even enhancing, your EP.

Conference call tips and tricks:

  1. Keep excellent track of conference call dates and times, as missing a call due to disorganization definitely doesn’t enhance your EP. It is also often a good idea to call in a few minutes early to ensure you will be on time.
  2. Eliminate background noise! There is enough going on over the phone already without the need for those on the call to hear your Starbucks barista grinding coffee beans for ten minutes.
  3. Remember, you can’t read body language over the phone. That’s why it’s so important that you ask for clarification if you’re not sure what a colleague meant. We can often tell, by a person’s body language, if what they are saying is positive, negative, or neutral (or something else for that matter), but this gift is not available to us over the phone.
  4. It is important to always state your name before speaking. Because all attendees are not in the same room together, it is important for the effectiveness of the call that all members know who is speaking.
  5. Wait your turn to speak. Interrupting someone mid-sentence can be perceived as a huge EP blunder.
  6. If, however, you feel it necessary to interject because you have something integral to add, it is important, to protect your EP as well as your colleagues confidence and ego, to bring the conversation back to what they were saying before you broke into the conversation.

It can often be harder to protect and enhance your EP over the phone, mostly due to the lack of visual cues that are so integral to thorough and complete communication. That is why it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to adopting proper conference call etiquette – these manners and communication skills will serve you well over the course of your career, and can often translate into the physical workspace.

 

Beautiful Skin: Your Most Important Accessory

Skin is the largest organ in the human body; it also happens to be our canvas, and it is often the first thing we notice about another person. According to research conducted by Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov from Princeton University, the brain is extremely quick to form a first impression of those we look at, based on their facial features; it only takes a mere one tenth of a second (592). Therefore, it is important that we care for, and “listen to” our skin, so we can present it at it’s best state. Even if you don’t have time to put makeup on one morning, a fresh, healthy vibrant complexion can take over. Gentlemen take note: proper skin care is not just for women, it’s just as important for you as well!

washing skin

There are a number of ways a healthy complexion can be achieved. Firstly, and probably most importantly, a healthy diet is required, which includes drinking lots of water and staying hydrated. Excessive sugar intake, for example, can lead to clogged pores, which can in turn lead to oily skin and breakouts. Secondly, an adequate amount of sleep (at least 6-8 hours a night, but this varies per individual) will do wonders for your complexion. It gives your body the opportunity to rebalance hydration. In addition, if you’re sleep-deprived, your body creates a stress hormone called cortisol which can lead to increased inflammation. Moreover, not enough sleep accelerates the aging process; sleeping literally fights wrinkles. If that’s not a good enough reason to get a good night’s sleep, I’m not sure what is. Thirdly, it’s imperative that you protect your skin from the elements (sun, pollution, makeup…). If someone has ever told you that it’s ok to wash your skin with hand soap, they were wrong; this can actually be extremely damaging and drying for your skin. There are a number of products you can, and should, use to help you care properly for your skin. Of course, everyone has a different complexion (dry, oily, combination, and everything in between), so it is imperative that you consult a skin care specialist to figure out exactly what kind of skin you have. However, there are a number of steps everyone should take when caring for their skin, for both men and women:

  1. A proper cleanser should be used every night before bed, to remove the detritus from the day (internal/external pollution, makeup, dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria from using your phone, etc.).
  2. A moisturizer should be used every morning (the right one for your skin is important, and a professional can help you choose the best kind for your skin). Despite your complexion, you should always look for one with an SPF built in, as the sun can seriously damage your skin over time. The type of moisturizer you use will also change throughout the seasons (a heavier one in the winter, and a lighter one in the summer).
  3. It is important to exfoliate 1-3 times a week depending on your complexion to remove dead skin cells. If you exfoliate too much, this will dehydrate your skin and will cause your oil glands to over-react.

As mentioned, consult with a skin care specialist or beautician to find out everything you need to know about the type of skin you have, but these three basic steps will help you put your best face forward.

Works Cited

Willis, Janine and Alexander Todorov. “First Impressions: Making Up Your Mind After a 100-Ms Exposure to a Face.” Psychological Science 17.7 (2006): 592-598. 11 Apr 2015.

Transitioning from Winter Wardrobe to Spring Styles

Willow-Pink-DressWinter has persisted for many months – which means that winter apparel has dominated our wardrobes for longer than we might like to admit. With the arrival of spring, it is time to start switching out that winter wardrobe for spring styles.

Of course, here in Toronto the chilly weather will continue to persist for several more weeks. With the slow transition from winter to spring in mind, here are a few tips to saluting spring while still preparing for cooler temperatures.

 

 

  • Fresh and light makeup
    When updating your look to fit spring styles, start with switching your makeup for light and airy colours and tones. You do not need to compromise any of your warm winter wear to give your face a fresh look for spring.

    The Harpers Bazaar article on the Prettiest Spring Pastel Makeup for Any Age can help you determine exactly how you can make the season’s soft colours work for you. For women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, read here for the best shades to brighten your eyes, cheeks and lips without going over-the-top.

  • Suits in transition
    With this weather, we are nowhere near ready for the lightweight suits and whites of summer. However, there are excellent transition pieces that can take you from the darkness of winter to the lightness of spring, without a dramatic switch in fabric and colour.

    For example, this handsome Akris Punto suit is made of lightweight wool, and the camel colour allows for a subtle shift from darker fabrics that dominate in wintertime. Additionally, the modern shawl collar gives the blazer a fresh update without too much drama.

  • Accessories that pop
    Accessories make for great transition pieces, from introducing a hint of colour into your winter repertoire to staying vibrant all throughout spring and summer. If you work in a business casual environment, you can afford to go a little bolder with your accessories.

    This Burberry floral print silk scarf nods to spring by adding subtle flowers and pops of brightness without appearing to busy or extravagant. From Nordstrom’s Shades of Bright springtime collection, the Simon Sebbag leather multistrand necklace in teal and silver lends an elegant way to welcome colours that mirror spring’s growth and renewal.

Just because winter weather may stick around for a few more weeks does not mean that your wardrobe also must be stuck in the season. Celebrate the coming spring by transitioning to light, bright and fresh styles!

Manage Stress and Exhaustion During Business Travel

When traveling for business, days can extend well beyond a conventional workday. Filled with breakfast events, meetings, presentations, networking meals and cocktails, the schedule can go on and on. Especially when business brings you far from the comforts of home, this kind of travel can be exhausting.

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Yet for important business that draws you from afar, it is important to exhibit Executive Presence and put forward your best professional image. Managing stress and exhaustion while traveling can help you to perform well, as well as make the experience much more enjoyable. A few steps you can take on your next business trip:

 

 

  • Set aside time to yourself
    With back-to-back sessions and networking around meals, many conferences or invitational meetings can go from breakfast until bedtime. Within this full schedule, ensure that you set aside a small amount of time to yourself.

    Even five minutes spent alone, whether relaxing, reading, or taking a short walk, can help you to refocus and feel centred before tackling more activities and socializing. Do not do work during this time – you will feel more energized to approach work after a short break.

  • Take care of business before leaving the office
    Make sure everything that you need on your trip, including files, presentation slides, addresses, and schedules, are exactly where you need them – before you set foot on the plane. Without everything in an accessible, central location, like a USB drive or a single folder, you may be scrambling to find missing pieces when you arrive at your destination. This will only add to your stress.
  • Energize without crashing
    While there are usually endless supplies of coffee at meetings and conferences, energizing exclusively through coffee and sugar often results in a caffeine crash. Further, mindlessly drinking coffee at meetings all day likely will alter the quality of your sleep. As well, in the evening, limit alcohol consumption. You don’t want to be the one looking like you were at a party the night before. It just doesn’t bode well for your reputation notwithstanding that it’ll be difficult for you to concentrate for the rest of the day.

Instead, find other ways to energize that won’t result in crashing. Take a brief walk outside and breathe some fresh air. Drink a refreshing caffeine-free herbal tea, like mint or ginger. My favourite is Rooibos. Exercise at the hotel gym if you have time for an energizing workout.

  • Maintain a “home” in your hotel room
    It can be tempting simply to drop your bags in the hotel room and dig out clothes from your suitcase during your stay – it is only a temporary home, after all. Yet at the end of a long day, it can be much more calming to return to a hotel room that is organized and tidy, not one with your belongings strewn around.

    Additionally, it will be better for the look and life your clothing to take a few minutes to hang and store them properly in the provided closet and drawers. A short time spent organizing can make you feel calm and collected during your trip.

Do you travel often for business? How do you manage the demands of business travel to put forward your best Executive Presence and professional image?

Complaining with Grace

complaints-buttonIt is important to be able to voice your opinion when issues or concerns arise. The main point to consider here is how you deliver your opinion or complaint. On one hand, a complaint can be constructive and help to solve a problem. But when poorly executed, a complaint can damage relationships, create tension, and reflect negatively on the person behind the opinion.

 

Here are some points to consider before lodging a complaint of your own.

Complaining on the Internet

  • Social Media
    If you are ready to launch into a tirade on a public forum on the web through a LinkedIn post, a tweet, or a Facebook status update, consider your motives first. Will a public complaint on social media reach its intended ears and solve the issue that bothers you? Or are you simply venting frustration, sending out your woes to anyone who will listen – whether or not they are your intended audience?

    Posting general complaints on social media always have the latter effect. This approach could lead to an array of negative impacts on the individual who posts directionless and unfiltered complaints. With such a wide audience, there are bound to be users who will see such thoughtless complaining as poor form. This will hinder the reputation of the individual who launched the criticism.

    Further, venting online means that other users in the future can see this negative attitude broadcast on social media. If this happens to be a prospective client or employer who hopes to connect with a positive, constructive individual, it could damage chances of future business or employment.

  • Private Email to Appropriate Contact
    If you hope to solve an issue using the Internet, an email to the right contact – whether that is the person at the root of the problem or an appropriate intermediary, like the HR department – is the safest way to go. Keep in mind, however, that an email also is never a completely private forum, as it can be forwarded, printed, or made public. In this case, write an email using facts – not feelings – to describe the issue, and send it with a goal in mind. Problem solving, not venting, is the objective.

Complaining in the Office

  • Loud Tirades in Public Spaces
    Just like posting woes recklessly on social media, loudly expressing frustration in an open area of the office or another public space will never have a constructive effect. This is a monologue that others will inevitably overhear – whether or not a complainer can see them in the vicinity.

    Especially if a complaint is about a person or a group of people, this usually will be perceived as gossip. This type of information is much more sensitive than technical or operational issues, as others’ feelings and reputations are at stake. If you have a complaint about an individual’s conduct or behaviour, do not express it in an open space for others to hear.

  • Private Meetings
    Instead of a monologue toward anyone who will listen, opt for a dialogue. Meet privately with the individual who is at the root of the issue. It also helps to have an unbiased third party, such as an HR professional, who can mediate the conversation and ensure that it does not escalate into petty arguing.

Even if someone or something distresses you, remember that how you express your frustration always reflects back on you. Protect your reputation and complain with grace.

Informational Interviews: The Why and How

Business people handshake in the office.Whether you are at the start of your career or you are seeking a professional change, informational interviews are a great tool for learning about the jobs, companies, or fields you aim to pursue.

When conducting research on an industry using resources that are widely available to the general public, it can be difficult to gain more than a basic sense of what a profession entails or what a company actually achieves. However, an informational interview can lend an insider’s perspective, telling more about a company’s culture, day-to-day work, key priorities, and important issues within that field.

By connecting with individuals through informational interviews, not only can you learn from a unique and personal perspective but also you can build professional relationships and grow your network.

Since informational interviews require individuals to lend their valuable and often limited time, here are a few tips for conducting the most effective and respectful interviews.

  • Do not ask for a job.
    An informational interview is not the right time or place to ask for a job. It is a learning opportunity, not a chance to solicit a position. In fact, if you are looking for a job under the pretence of an informational interview, it could damage your relationship with your contact and hinder your chances of pursuing a career at that company.It is true that building relationships through informational interviews could lead to opportunities in the future, but it is not the point of the interview itself.
  • Be very conscious about time.
    When requesting an informational interview, do not ask for more than 30 minutes of an individual’s time. During an interview, take responsibility for regulating time and ensure that you do not go over the allotted schedule. Additionally, like a regular job interview, punctuality is essential – respecting the time of your contact and making a great first impression are still both important here.
  • Prepare in advance with questions and research.
    Do not arrive unprepared by simply expecting the interviewee to tell you exactly what you want to hear. You should have structured questions prepared in advance so that you can focus on exactly what interests you, and also so that you can maximize the limited time you have.Additionally, make sure you research the company and the interviewee’s position. It is important to demonstrate your interest and investment in the field, so that an interviewee feels it is worth his or her time to meet with you.
  • Write a thank-you note.
    After an informational interview, show your gratitude to your contact in a formal manner. Whether via email or a handwritten note, saying “thank you” will help to ensure that you maintain a positive relationship with the interviewee in the future.

 

Throughout Your Career, Never Burn Bridges

Often when people quit jobs or leave negative professional situations, they are tempted to cut all ties with their former employers – and sometimes even speak poorly about the company or its employees. More often than not, this approach will have repercussions in the future.

97421060Keeping distance from former colleagues is one thing, but actively condemning an organization and those who work there is a more serious issue. Moving between jobs in this manner does not demonstrate Executive Presence and will not benefit your reputation. Instead, maintaining ties and keeping a respectful attitude will allow you to build positive connections throughout all the transitions in your career.

As you move between jobs and locations, here are several reasons why you should build – not burn – bridges.

  • Gossip Travels Fast through Networks
    Especially if you move around within your industry or stay in a particular region, chances are that your current colleagues know other individuals in your previous and future workplaces. If you gossip about your former employer, it could travel through your networks – either to your former colleagues, or to another contact whose opinion you truly value.As an exercise, look at your LinkedIn connections to see how many mutual contacts you share. If you speak negatively, word can spread quickly among all those professionals.
  • Positive Forces Lead to Positive Growth
    On the other hand, if you keep positive ties, you will maintain an upper hand in your industry. This does not require a serious effort: even reaching out to a former colleague or supervisor and meeting for coffee once per year can keep relationships strong. If your experience at a particular company was a bad one, look past those memories and remember which individuals were trusting and affirmative within that environment. Try to maintain connections with those individuals.
  • Aggression is not a Characteristic of Executive Presence
    You may feel the impulse to critique your former organization because you no longer work there: after all, if they can’t hear you, what does it matter?However, this attitude and behaviour could negatively influence your current position. If you critique previous employers or colleagues with aggression, your current colleagues may get a damaging impression of you. Further, they may be wary to trust you in the future, as they may suspect you will apply the same attitude to them. Even worse is to demonstrate this behaviour during a job interview, as starting off on a destructive tone will never leave a good first impression.If you feel this temptation to criticize, remember that Executive Presence is not characterized by negativity and aggression, but rather composure and grace – even in difficult situations.
  • View All Experiences as Learning Opportunities
    Any career path will involve a variety of colleagues, jobs, and companies. Whether good or bad, try to see all of these experiences as learning opportunities. In fact, you can often learn the most from difficult moments, as they teach you how to respond to similar challenges in the future.

What are your tips for maintaining positive relationships throughout a career?

Make 2015 the Year You Develop Executive Presence

executive presenceIf you have considered developing your Executive Presence, elevating your career, or acquiring highly rated credentials, 2015 may be your year to do it. It is a big year for Corporate Class Inc. and Executive Presence – not only are our public-enrollment programs and seminars back by popular demand, but also we are offering a brand new intensive certification program based on feedback of current and potential participants.

With the breadth and depth of our programs, we continue to cater to professionals with a variety of goals. Read about our upcoming sessions below and see which one could be right for you.

  • Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) 2015 Conference
    Toronto, January 21-23, 2015

    As in previous years, I am delighted to once again present at the annual HRPA conference. This year I will deliver two sessions. On January 21, join Christine Felgueiras, Corporate Class Inc.’s Associate Director of Programs, and me for “First Impression: Here’s Your Second Chance!” Learn about the important factors that contribute to a winning first impression, so you can start every professional relationship off on the right foot.

    On January 22, together with corporate training consultant Marjorie Malpass, we address “The Power of Yes and Levity in Conversation”: a discussion where you learn how to become a great conversationalist and find out the useful – and sometimes surprising – advantages of using levity in professional conversations.

  • Executive Presence Workshop for Leaders and Executives
    Toronto, March 26-27, 2015
    Top leaders, corporate executives, and HR managers: this program is designed for you. For those who have already advanced within a career or a company, this workshop will give you even more of an edge and allow for continued personal advancement.

    Back by popular demand, our 2-day program in March will enable you to demonstrate the multi-dimensional aspects of Executive Presence with interactive classes and small group sessions. Among other topics, I will address powerful first impressions, crafting a memorable personal brand, effective communication in any context, and exuding confidence and poise.

  • Executive Presence System Atlanta Certification Training Program
    Atlanta, April 20-24, 2015

    After receiving much feedback for a fast-track program to the world of corporate training, we have designed the Executive Presence System Certification Training Program in Atlanta – the newest program from Corporate Class Inc.

This 5-day intensive training program will be your entryway into becoming a recognized Executive Presence trainer. During the interactive sessions, you will learn how to master your own Executive Presence, then develop the skills to train a diverse range of clients. By the end of the program, you will acquire the credentials that will lend you an edge in the corporate training industry.

Click here to read more about the program and to register. Mark your calendar: our early bird registration special ends on January 23.

With the diverse range of upcoming programs and opportunities, we hope to address your specific objectives when it comes to enhancing Executive Presence. Register for one of our programs today!