How to Break Into A Career

Follow us on TwitterFind us on FacebookView our profile on LinkedIn

Recent graduates: are you feeling overwhelmed as you begin to head down your career path? Even if you have an idea of an occupation you’d like to pursue, starting out with little or no job history can be daunting. How do you break into a career without having previous experience in that field? Luckily, there are a number of ways you can test the waters and learn about a company or an industry before you are ready to apply. Combining research, networking, outreach, volunteer work and a positive attitude will help you learn more and make connections – and prepare you for an actual job prospect.


Do your homework.

Researching an industry is a huge first step: you need to know all the ins and outs of your area of interest. Start by finding out which jobs are associated with a particular field (for example, communications-related jobs could include a writer, editor, social media manager – the list goes on). Then consider how your qualifications could apply to a particular position.

Also, seek out relevant companies that exist in your area and their backgrounds, such as the number of employees, the range of positions and levels of qualifications in their employees, and their current products or activities.

With a knowledge base of your field of interest, you will have a better sense of what your options are and what kind of company or position you may want to pursue.

Request an informational interview.

Reach out and contact someone who is already working in your ideal field, company, or job, and request to conduct an informational interview. This is an excellent method to continue building your knowledge base. Many people who have reached their career objectives are very willing to help by sharing their experience and wisdom gained during their path to achievement. You can learn not only about the details of their work, but also how they obtained their career goal and what sort of obstacles they had to overcome along the way.

Informational interviews are also a very effective means to network within your field of choice. Contacts will recognize that you are proactive and enthusiastic about an industry, and may keep you in mind if an opportunity arises in their company. So, don’t forget to bring a business card to the interview!

Keep networking.

Besides making connections through informational interviews, be creative and find other means to network with key contacts. For example, go to public events hosted by an organization or company of interest to you. Ask for an introduction if you know a family member or friend with a connection you would like to make. Use professional social networking sites like LinkedIn to build your contact base.

Volunteer.

If there are no current job openings, or if you are not yet qualified to apply for any available positions, start by seeking out volunteer jobs or internships. The more volunteer work that you can financially accommodate, the better, but even one or two days per week is enough to begin building your relevant on-the-job experience.

The benefits of volunteering or interning are manifold: first, you can learn immensely from first-hand experience. Second, the job experience will add a necessary complement to the academic qualifications on your resume. Finally, this is another effective way to build your important base of contacts – and may even lead to a paid job within a company once you have established yourself among its employees.

Heading into today’s job market certainly can seem intimidating. But building your experience, knowledge, and connections in simple yet significant ways will ease the transition as you begin to navigate your career path.

 

Share this blog post with others!

 

How My Daughter’s Tragic Accident Brought the Gift of Life to 6 People

Bookmark this on Delicious
View our profile on LinkedInFind us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

When my 11 year old daughter Sandrine died in a school bus accident, the lives of 6 people were either saved or enhanced. Since 1999, I have worked with several organizations to help raise awareness of organ and tissue donation. Recently I met the incredible Hélene Campbell and I am in awe of what she has been able to achieve to help raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. By getting the attention of Ellen DeGenerous and Justin Bieber, more people than ever are talking about organ donation and registering their wishes.

 

Hélene received the gift of life a few months ago and after her moving press conference, I was asked by Laura DiBatista  on Here and Now at CBC to share my experience.
Please click to Listen audio (runs 8:17)

 

Diane Craig sat on the board of directors for Trillium Gift of Life Network, where she played a major role in governance issues and developing communication strategies, from 2004 to 2016. She is the founder of Sandrine’s Gift of Life, a not-for-profit organization focused on organ and tissue donation awareness and often speaks about her passion for organ and tissue donation and how we can best serve those on waiting lists. Here’s another CBC piece with Diane Craig and Don Cherry:

In Ontario you can register your wish to donate at www.beadonor.ca.

Please talk to your family and share this post to spread the word. Someone’s life depends on it.

 

Dining Etiquette in China – 10 Must-Know Tips for Business Travelers

Bookmark this on Delicious
View our profile on LinkedInFind us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

dining etiquette in chinaAs the world grows smaller, you may find yourself travelling from one major city to another for business. If you’re a leading executive you know that major business deals are signed not only in the boardroom, but at the golf course and the dining table. With that being said, international business etiquette, including dining etiquette plays a major role when it comes to conducting business successfully in foreign nations.

Did you know that there are thousands of people who travel to China every year for business? No matter where you travel, being sensitive of other cultures and learning the codes of how locals conduct themselves can earn you valuable points. The Chinese take their food seriously. Contrary to Western dining, dining etiquette in China involves sharing food from common bowls.

If you’re travelling to China to sign a major corporate business deal, pay heed to these top 10 dining etiquette rules by Sally Huang, who hails from Guangzhou, China, before you head out to your next Chinese business dinner:

1. Attend the formal business dinner punctual in formal suits. It is better to bring some small gifts or good win per status of the relationship with the host.

2. Take appropriate seat as they are usually arranged according to seniority. If you are not sure about it, ask the host or wait and see how others take seats.

3. Don’t be surprised if your host orders more food than you can have as it is usually the way Chinese show their hospitality. Moreover, it is a way to show their “Mian zi”, namely face in English as Chinese attach great importance to mianzi.

To reiterate it further, Mianzi, or “face” in English, can loosely be translated to “status” or “self-respect”. A huge part of Chinese social etiquette, having “face” means you are viewed as someone who is respected by your peers, superiors and subordinates. Mianzi can also be understood as the avoidance of embarrassment in front of others.

4. Don’t point your chopsticks directly at others or straight upright in your rice bowl as it resembles the incense burnt at funerals.

5. Don’t slurp your soup loudly at the dinner table as it is considered as impolite.

6. Take food first from the plates in front of you rather than those in the middle or in front of others. Avoid using your chopsticks burrowing through the food and gazing your eyes to the plates as it is thought as bad table manners.

7. Use a spoon that no one has used before to take food from communal plates for yourself or others even though it is common in China that in family gathering or company gathering, people use their own chopsticks to get food.

8. When adding rice to your bowl, it is polite to take initiative to fill the bowls of the elders and others.

9. Drinking bear is a core process. If you are toasting with others, usually it is expressed with the words “Gan bei”, which is denoted as “Cheers” in English, mainly bottoms up or empty your glass. It is not necessary to empty your glass, but to leave a good impression, it would be good to do it or bring someone who can drink on your part.

10. It is usually the host who pays for the bill excluding informal gatherings among friends and other similar occasions. However, in Chinese custom, it is polite to make an effort to pay, that’s the reason why it is common to see some Chinese fighting fierce for the right to pay.

Learning about dining etiquette in China or any other country can give you a major advantage in procuring the deal, especially if you’re competing with other firms.

Talk to Diane Craig before you head out to foreign lands to procure your next business deal. Her international etiquette tips might just be the difference between returning with your head held high – or down.

 

Business Networking: 10 Top Tips on How To Work a Room

Bookmark this on Delicious
View our profile on LinkedInFind us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

how to work a roomDo you get nervous when you walk into a room full of people you don’t know? Sure, we’re all used to networking via social media – tweeting, posting to LinkendIn and sharing on Facebook- those don’t seem to intimidate us much, do they?

But when it comes to a one-on-one business networking event, professional meeting, workshop or seminar, why do some of us end up with sweaty palms and an uncomfortable feeling in the gut?

Agreed, attending an event without any familiar faces can be scary, but NOT if you go with a goal in mind BEFORE you arrive. This will help you “avoid wandering around aimlessly or trying to strike up forced conversations with people who don’t interest you.”

Here are 10 great tips offered by Forbes on “How To Work A Room Like You Own The Place”:

1. Go with a purpose. Remind yourself why you are there. You are using your precious time to network and to make some useful connections, so make sure you aren’t wasting energy. Set a couple of targets like: speak to three new people; or try to learn at least two new pieces of information or gossip.

2. Use inside contacts. If you know the event organizer and he or she is around during the event, ask for an introduction to key people who you ought to meet there. Having a warm overture will make the process of networking easier. It will also save you the time of trying to find people who you don’t know.

3. Be a lone ranger. If you’re attending the event with people you already know well, such as colleagues and friends, don’t fall into the trap of sticking together for the whole event. Talking to people who you already know will lessen your chances of meeting new ones. To extricate yourself, deliberately sit next to someone you don’t know during a talk or a meal that takes place during the event.

4. Get the lay of the land. Observe group formations before choosing whom to approach. Look for people who are most likely to respond positively. These would be individuals standing alone who are waiting for someone to talk to, or groups of twos and threes that are open to new participants. You can see this in their body language: if they are facing outward, chances are they are having a casual conversation and would be happy for others to join in.

5. Be aware of your own body language.Folding your arms in front of your body and looking at the floor forms a barrier between you and the other person and gives the impression that you don’t want to talk to them. In contrast, leaving your arms unfolded and maintaining eye contact will make them feel welcome.

6. Break the ice. Don’t feel like you have to say something profound. Breaking the ice can be as simple as commenting on the venue, the program or the food; asking people where they’ve traveled  from or whether they’ve been to the event or place before; or expressing an interest in why they are attending.

7. Mind your handshake. Most meetings start with a cordial handshake. Put out your full hand, avoiding the half-handed (and halfhearted) grip, which can feel like a cold fish. Shake firmly, but don’t make it a bone crusher. Maintain eye contact and smile as you greet your new potential contact.

8. Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that ask who, what, where, when and how – as opposed to questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Your goal is to explore ideas and opinions and also to show your listening skills.

9. Go easy on the business cards. Make each one count, rather than handing them out like a meaningless pamphlet. It’s not about volume–it’s about quality contacts. Be ready to hand out a business card if someone requests it or you think that you have a made a good solid new connection. Forcing it on someone who doesn’t seem to want it just makes you look desperate.

10. Be generous. Offer to help where you can and don’t expect anything in return. Most people appreciate a favor and want to reciprocate. In time, your virtue may turn out to be its own reward.

If you want to master the art of working a room, look no further than Corporate Class’s Working a Room workshop.

Maximizing networking opportunities at meetings, conferences and trade shows is the nucleus of this session. Participants cover a full range of techniques to make connections and build relationships including: making an entrance, mastering the art of introduction, successful mingling and small talk, remembering names, handling food and drinks, plus, advance prep and final follow-up pointers.

Watch a video and learn more about our exclusive 60-90 minute Working a Room workshop here!

 

International Business Etiquette – Top 6 Tips for Business Travelers

Bookmark this on Delicious
View our profile on LinkedInFind us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

Travelling abroad for a business trip? You might feel overwhelmed when it comes to practicing international business etiquetteor settling in and adjusting to local customs. But, don’t fret – just yet.

Travelling globally for business can actually be a rewarding experience if you’re open to learning about the traditions and practices of the country you’re visiting. In fact, showing enthusiasm and interest in your host country’s culture can actually be very good for business.

Here are top six tips offered by Fox Business, to help you adjust to a new country and come away with the business deal you want:

Observe
The best way to adjust to a new culture during business is simply through observation. Patrick Gray, president of the Prevoyance Group, has lived and worked across numerous continents.He suggested, “Watch how others dress, greet each other and interact with other locals.”

Local customs are often formed over many generations so you will certainly make mistakes. As long as you’re a conscious observer, people will know you’re trying and forgive the occasional (and inevitable) missteps.

Practice business etiquette
When you travel for pleasure, you don’t just represent yourself. You become an ambassador for your country and your company. Therefore, proper etiquette should be at the forefront of your mind. This means wearing the proper attire, being punctual and not being distracted by your smartphone when in the presence of an important business associate.

Learn about the country
Since the United States’ culture and politics reach many corners of the globe, chances are that the people you encounter on your business trip will know the name of our president, have an opinion on government and may even have a favorite American television show. You cannot be an expert on every country (nor should you pretend to be), but you should research the country to develop a basic understanding. This simple gesture will communicate that you are an open-minded individual who thinks globally.

Research differences in manners
You shouldn’t just learn about the country in general. You should also research how you should operate in the culture specifically. You are, after all, a visitor and should extend respect, as your host country conceives of it. Just a little research can go a long way in learning what your host country thinks is and is not appropriate.

Think beyond your way 
Doing business in a different country can be frustrating because you may perceive flaws in the way they execute their business affairs, just as they may perceive flaws in the way you execute your business affairs. Sometimes there are preferred methods for a particular task, but the optimal approach to a specific business maneuver won’t exclusively exist in one country or the other. This is where both cultures can learn from the other. However, since you are a guest in their country, adopt their business manners, at least at first. Enter the culture from a position of humility.

Deal with culture shock
For extended business trips, you may experience culture shock, which often manifests itself in different phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and acclimation.

During the honeymoon phase, you might see the new culture in a romantic light. The negotiation phase (which can begin after about three months) is when you start to sense the differences between your home culture with your new location in a way that creates anxiety or loneliness. During the adjustment phase (which can last as long as a year, if not longer) you slowly start to feel as if your new culture is normal and any negative feelings may decline. If you reach the acclimation phase, you will feel comfortable and sense that you can be a full participant in the new culture.

While going through the sadder, more difficult phases of culture shock, remember not to take out your frustration on any business clients. On the other hand, when you feel enthusiastic for their culture, feel free to share this with them.

Corporate Class Inc.’s International Business Etiquette module presents essential techniques and strategies for doing business with international clients. The program consists of  four linked modules:

1. Understanding cultural differences Be able to recognize the main stumbling blocks facing North Americans abroad. Assess your ability to adapt to another culture and be aware of the dangers of stereotyping.

2. Become familiar with the different categories of culture Become acquainted with how people from different parts of the world value hierarchy, status, performance, legal agreements, scheduling, deadlines, business relationships and personal ownership.

3. Learn different communication styles Assess your own communication skills in personal meetings. Learn the main communication differences: context, styles, intonation, space, gestures and humour. We will offer guidance showing you how you can enrich your communication with international counterparts.

4. Excel in international business interactions Learn the business etiquette of your target country. These include forms of address, introductions, body language, handshaking customs, business card exchanges, appropriate conversation, gift giving and dining.

If you want to land your next business deal abroad, learning  proper international business etiquette is essential. Contact Diane and get started today!

 

Top 10 Body Language Tips from Leading Expert Robert Phipps

Have you ever wanted to know how some of the world’s best communicators manage to be so persuasive?

People like Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Barack Obama, David Cameron, Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and many others.  

The Simple Answer Is They Use NON VERBAL COMMUNICATION So Well It Overrides Their Words. 

They Communicate With Empathy, Pride and Confidence at Exactly the Right Moment and Their Behaviour Transcends What They Have To Say…

Your ability to use your own body language to emphasize your chosen words is paramount in all human interactions.

So, here are my top ten body language tips:

  1. Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of dealing with others. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest in what they have to say. Here in the UK we tend to keep eye contact around 60-70% of the time. (However, there are wide cultural differences, so be careful in other countries). By doing this you won’t make other people feel self conscious, like they’ve got a bit of vegetable stuck between their teeth or a dew drop hanging from the nose. Instead, it will give them a feeling of comfort and genuine warmth in your company, any more eye contact than this and you can be too intense, any less and you give off a signal that you are lacking interest in them or their conversation.
  2. Posture is the next thing to master. Get your posture right and you’ll automatically start feeling better, as it makes you feel good almost instantly. Next time you notice you’re feeling a bit down, take a look at how you are standing or sitting. Chances are you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which in turn can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.
  3. Head position is a great one to play around with; with yourself and others. When you want to feel confident and self assured keep your head level both horizontally and vertically. You can also use this straight head position when you want to be authoritative and what you’re saying to be taken seriously. Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or other. You can shift the tilt from left to right at different points in the conversation.
  4. Arms give away the clues as to how open and receptive we are to everyone we meet and interact with, so keep your arms out to the side of your body or behind your back. This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way and you meet things “full frontal”. In general terms the more outgoing you are as a person, the more you tend to use your arms with big movements. The quieter you are the less you move your arms away from your body. So, try to strike a natural balance and keep your arm movements midway. When you want to come across in the best possible light, crossing the arms is a no, no in front of others. Obviously if someone says something that gets your goat, then by all means show your disapproval by crossing them!
  5. Legs are the furthest point away from the brain, consequently they’re the hardest bits of our bodies to consciously control. They tend to move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive. So best to keep them as still as possible in most situations, especially at interviews or work meetings. Be careful too in the way you cross your legs. Do you cross at the knees, ankles or bring your leg up to rest on the knee of the other? This is more a question of comfort than anything else. Just be aware that the last position mentioned is known as the “Figure Four” and is generally perceived as the most defensive leg cross, especially if it happens as someone tells a you something that might be of a slightly dubious nature, or moments after. (As always, look for a sequence).
  6. Angle of the body in relation to others gives an indication of our attitudes and feelings towards them. We angle toward people we find attractive, friendly and interesting and angle ourselves away from those we don’t, it’s that simple! Angles includes leaning in or away from people, as we often just tilt from the pelvis and lean sideways to someone to share a bit of conversation. For example, we are not in complete control of our angle at the cinema because of the seating nor at a concert when we stand shoulder to shoulder and are packed in like sardines. In these situations we tend to lean over towards the other person.
  7. Hand gestures are so numerous it’s hard to give a brief guide but here goes. Palms slightly up and outward are seen as open and friendly. Palm down gestures are generally seen as dominant, emphasizing and possibly aggressive, especially when there is no movement or bending between the wrist and the forearm. This palm up, palm down is very important when it comes to handshaking and where appropriate we suggest you always offer a handshake upright and vertical, which should convey equality.
  8. Distance from others is crucial if you want to give off the right signals. Stand too close and you’ll be marked as “pushy” or “in your face”. Stand or sit too far away and you’ll be “keeping your distance” or “stand offish”. Neither are what we want, so observe if in a group situation how close are all the other people to each other. Also notice if you move closer to someone and they back away, you’re probably just a tiny bit too much in their personal space, their comfort zone. “You’ve overstepped the mark” and should pull back a little.
  9. Ears, yes your ears play a vital role in communication with others, even though in general terms most people can’t move them much, if at all. However, you’ve got two ears and only one mouth, so try to use them in that order. If you listen twice as much as you talk you come across as a good communicator who knows how to strike up a balanced a conversation without being me, me, me or the wallflower.
  10. Mouth movements can give away all sorts of clues. We purse our lips and sometimes twist them to the side when we’re thinking. Another occasion we might use this movement is to hold back an angry comment we don’t wish to reveal. Nevertheless, it will probably be spotted by other people and although they may not know the comment, they will get a feeling you were not too pleased.

Guest Post by Robert Phipps, author of the new book: Body Language: It’s What You Don’t Say That Matters.

Are Men More Strategic Than Women?

Bookmark this on Delicious
View our profile on LinkedInFind us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

executive presenceAre you a woman leader seeing your equally skilled male counterparts climb the corporate ladder while you get left behind? Does a promotion that you’re the perfect match for always seem to elude you? Ever wonder what’s stopping you from landing a senior level management position?

In many organizations (whether they voice it out or not) it is a commonly held belief that women are NOT as strategic as men, and hence many male senior executives believe that although skilled and talented, women are just not ready yet for senior-level leadership in the firm.

In a recent article published by the Huffington Post, leadership strategist Rebecca Shambaugh strongly disagrees with the above commonly held belief. She states that:

…in working with and coaching hundreds of women leaders, there’s no question in my mind that women are strategic thinkers. After all, most women constantly fill multiple roles. This requirement gives them critical problem solving skills and the ability to orchestrate complex situations — two areas that are closely related to strategic thinking skills. So the issue is not that women aren’t strategic thinkers. The problem is that they sometimes don’t come across that way. And in business, as in life, perception is reality.

So how do you as a bright, talented executive woman come across as more strategic? Here are 3 key areas you need to focus on: Building cross-departmental experience, developing executive presence and using the right words.

Broad-based Experience – Relative to men, women often lack the strategic experience that comes from time spent in P&L, operations and line positions. In addition, women tend to mistakenly believe that they need to be experts in their current position or functional area. As a result, they focus intently on that aspect of the business or organization, narrowing their perspective.

Instead, women need to proactively seek positions, projects, and assignments outside of their position, department or area of expertise. Cross-functional and external assignments offer a broader perspective, the opportunity to stretch and grow, a better understanding of how the pieces of the business fit and work together and a more integrated, strategic view.

Executive Presence – A recent study identified the top three differentiators that make for a successful executive, and one of those key differentiators is executive presence. At the senior ranks, everyone has technical competency, but not everyone has presence. Presence is the way you carry yourself: The persona that you convey in meetings and conversations. Executive presence is characterized by self-confidence, a sense of authority, decisiveness and assertiveness. Women have a tendency to be helpful and polite to the point of not stating their opinions or defending themselves as an authority.

If you are a woman who wants to enhance your executive presence, know and state your opinions firmly, backing them with strong rationale. Ask thoughtful, strategic questions rather than simply sharing information and blindly agreeing with others. Boards and executives are looking for people who can challenge old ways of thinking and doing. Don’t personalize situations. See business as business. Feelings don’t count … organizational goals do.

Language – Oftentimes, women’s choice of words when communicating can send the message that they are not as strategic as men. It’s not necessarily what women say but how they say it.

For example, consider a senior level, female HR professional who is concerned about a lack of cross-collaboration within the organization. She presents to the executive team “an initiative to create a more inclusive culture,” but the bottom-line focused senior executives tune her out. Consider the difference if she had reframed the proposal to reflect a more strategic approach: “Given the reality of our current talent shortage, we need to look at a human capital plan and develop an inclusive, learning-based culture that will align with and support our growth strategy.”

All leaders — men and women — need to speak the language of business. When presenting information, reports or proposals, do your homework first. Consider the strategic aspects of your project. How does it fit into the organization’s vision, business strategy, growth plan or annual goals? How will it drive better business results? You must understand how it will impact the bottom line and be prepared to communicate that connection clearly and succinctly.

Now that you know that you need to gain varied experience, build executive presence and use just the right business language – Where do you begin?

That’s where we can help. In order to be perceived as more strategic you’ll have to make a few adjustments, but the good news is it’s not difficult or complex – all you need to learn is how!

Corporate Class’s exclusive one-on-one training sessions will not only help you become more aware of your strategic capabilities as a woman, but we’ll also show you how to build executive presence and use the right body language to get ahead in your career and hopefully bag that next promotion!

 

Body Language Presentation Tips to Fire Up Your Audience

Bookmark this on Delicious
 View our profile on LinkedIn Find us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter

 

body-language
Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The right or WRONG body language can make or break a presentation. Whether you’re on or off the stage, using the right body language is critical to your presentation or communication success.

You might only be verbally articulating so much, but a lot of what you don’t say can be conveyed through your body language.

So what are body language presentation skills? What do I mean when I say you must use the “right” body language in a presentation?

You might have a great speech but how you deliver it matters. What tone you’re speaking in, your physical activity level, your movement and energy levels around the stage, how many times you smile, nod, gesture with your hands ad make eye contact with audience members – all this and more counts towards your presentation body language skills.

Carol Kinsey, leadership communication coach, offers 7 vital tips on body language presentation and communication below:

1. Manage your stress level

While you are waiting backstage, notice the tension in your body. Realize that some nervous energy is a good thing – it’s what makes your presentation lively and interesting, but too much stress results in nonverbal behaviors that work against you.

Before you go on stage, stand or sit with your weight “centered” – evenly distributed on both feet or sit bones. Look straight ahead with your chin level to the floor and relax your throat. Take several deep “belly” breaths. Count slowly to six as you inhale and increase the tension in your body by making fists and tensing the muscles in your arms torso and legs. As you exhale, allow your hands, arms and body to release and relax.

2. Get emotional

In order to engage an audience, they need to be emotionally involved. So before you go on stage to deliver your message, concentrate on emotions and feelings. How do you personally emotionally connect with what you are about to say? What do you feel about it? How do you want the audience to feel? (The more you focus on the emotion behind your message, the more convincing and congruent your body language will automatically become.)

3. Make a confident entrance

Staying relaxed, walk out on stage with good posture, head held high, and a steady, smooth gait. When you arrive at center stage, stop, smile, raise your eyebrows and slightly widen your eyes while you look around the room. A relaxed, open face and body tells your audience that you’re confident and comfortable with the information you’re delivering. Since audience members will be reacting to any display of tension, your state of comfort will also relax and reassure them. (This may sound like common sense, but I once worked with a manager who walked onstage with hunched shoulders, a furrowed brow and squinted eyes. I watched the audience squirm in response. It was an unsettling way to begin a “let’s get together and support this change” speech.)

4. Maintain eye contact

Maintain steady eye contact with the audience throughout the talk. If you don’t, you will quickly signal that you don’t want to be there, that you aren’t really committed to your message, or that you have something to hide.

While it is physically impossible to maintain eye contact with the entire audience all the time, you can look at specific individuals or small groups, hold their attention briefly, and then move to another group or individual in another part of the room.

5. Ditch the lectern

Get out from behind the lectern. A lectern not only covers up the majority of your body, it also acts as a barrier between you and the audience. Practice the presentation so well that you don’t need to read from a script. If you use notes, request a video prompter at the foot of the stage.

6. Talk with your hands

Speakers use hand gestures to underscore what’s important and to express feelings, needs and convictions. When people are passionate about what they are saying, their gestures become more animated. That’s why gestures are so critical and why getting them right in a presentation connects so powerfully with an audience. If you don’t use them (if you let your hands hang limply to your sides or clasp them in the classic “fig leaf” position), it suggests you don’t recognize the crucial issues, you have no emotional investment in the issues, or that you’re not an effective communicator.

7. Move

Human beings (males, most especially) are drawn to movement. Movement keeps an audience from becoming bored. It can be very effective to walk toward the audience before making an important point, and away when you want to signal a break or a change of subject. But don’t move when you are making a key point. Instead, stop, widen your stance, and deliver that important message.

Understand that a well-written speech is only half as important. Effective speakers and oraters are masters of using personal stories and humour, motivating along with the perfect body language presentation skills.

Are you ready to fire up your audience? Click here to learn more about developing your body language presentation skills.

The Benefits of Corporate Volunteering

Other than quick morning greetings or lunchtime conversations, how do you connect with your employees or colleagues on a personal level? A few days throughout the year dedicated to team-building activities or corporate outings provide an excellent context for developing relationships within your company. One activity in particular is gaining momentum: corporate volunteering. As companies are seeking ways to invest in charitable causes and to establish corporate social responsibility, corporate volunteering provides a way to integrate these goals with facilitating employee relationships. The benefits to these volunteer projects are multi-layered: the positive effects that start within your company reach outward to your community presence, your impression on investors and shareholders, and your corporate image.

Continue reading

Dining Etiquette Matters – Eating Your Way to Success

Don’t eat another important business meal without reading this first!

Let’s take three scenarios. An international client is visiting and you have a lunch meeting. A potential commercial partner suggests you go out for dinner. You are attending your first corporate annual holiday banquet.

You are confidant, charming, sharp and dressed for success. But what about your table manners? Place your fork the wrong way and your international client is not impressed. Eat the bread of your potential partner’s plate and she starts to question your judgement. Argue with the waiter and your colleagues think you can be a real jerk. In today’s climate of rising globalism, dining etiquette can make or break your success.

Continue reading