Okay, so maybe you don’t want to wear Technicolor socks, but if you’ve ever walked into a business meeting without a smile and a handshake, this post is for you.
This post is the fifth in the series 8 Mistakes Men Don’t Make. Blending in at the outset can ensure that no one takes you seriously when you’re ready to be heard. But I’ll let you in on a secret: men make them too, especially this one.
Banish Passive Introductions
A powerful introduction is audible, direct, and confident. It includes not only your name, but your title or role in the organization. This is the first clue to others in the room that you know who you are and that you’re there for a purpose. Entering a room quietly does nothing to establish your authority.
A big mistake is sitting, literally, on the sidelines of the room. I see this one all the time. In an effort to be polite, or to avoid being perceived as a threat or challenge, women will take the side chairs in a meeting room. Another power sucking move is to take the spot in the middle of the table every time.
When I was in school accounting students with good grades were aggressively recruited by the big accounting and consulting firms, as well as Fortune 500 corporations. Recruiting events were pseudo-social events where our softer skills could be observed. One of the first things we learned was to choose your company before you sit. In important meetings, pay attention to where you are, physically.
Speaking of—stand up! The more space you take up, and the more of your body that is visible during communication, the more of your message gets across. My enemy is the podium. At 5’1” if I stand behind one, all you see is my head—and that can be all but obscured by a large microphone. When I speak to a group the first thing I do is take that bad boy out and start moving around the front of the room.
To the Host Goes the Power
I love this idea. Other people naturally defer to you on your turf. While you may not be able to host every interaction, a lot of times you can ‘play host’. The more people you know in the room, the easier this is to do. Get people talking about themselves just as you would if you were sharing cider in your home and you will create instant rapport.
Like these ideas? Check out Carol Spieckerman and Lisa Carver, who came up with the original list of mistakes men don’t make.