Friday, October 7, 2011

Your Image – What Is It Saying About You?

Six seconds. It takes approximately six seconds to tie a shoelace, six seconds to open one letter, butter one slice of bread and it takes six short seconds to make a first impression.

All things considered, this is not a lot of time within which to convey a lot of information about yourself, your company or your services. Yet people will make assumptions about credibility and ability within these few short seconds. What do your first six seconds say about you?

You need to ensure that you are capable of selling yourself and your company positively, if you are going to be given the opportunity to sell or promote your products and services. Dr. Albert Mehrabian of UCLA found that there are three key elements that combine to create your first impression…

Verbal – what you say 7%
Vocal – how you say it 38%
Visual – how you look and act 55%

You will notice that the content of what we say is not nearly as important as how we say it, or even how we look as we say it. Yet, most sales professionals focus more of their time preparing their verbal communications rather than the other two elements. They are inadvertently overlooking the power of the non-verbal elements in creating their image and risk not being as successful.

Creating a strong first impression requires you to strategically refine the image you portray by aligning the vocal and visual elements with the message that you want to deliver. The consistency of the message is the key.

For the vocal elements - listen to yourself on tape. How does your voice sound? Is it too nasal or too high? Do you speak too fast or too slow? Do you speak too loud or too soft? In general, you convey confidence by speaking at a moderate pace with a slightly lower tone range. Deepening your voice slightly will often lend you a credibility and authority you might have lacked. You should try to speak loud enough to be heard clearly by your audience.

Choose carefully the visual elements, considering the tales they tell about you. Are you dressed too casually or are you over-dressed? Does the colour convey confidence or a lack of? Are you clean, well-groomed and professional? Do your own marketing self-survey by asking for others’ opinions about the messages that your current dress imparts. Does it fit with the impression you wish to make?

Your image is either going to contribute to or detract from your business success. Imagine for a moment that you are creating your own retail store at a major intersection. The store will have no name above the door; all that will be on display in the front window is you. What kind of customers will you attract?

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