Perception: What people really think about us and four things we can do about it.

I was talking to a potential client about our work, what we do and she said “what they (potential coachees) really need is to understand how they are perceived”. In a sentence, she had captured the reason behind the presentation technique we do. Our vision is to unlock the voice; what if they don’t know what their voice sounds like? What if they perceive they are approachable, warm, engaging and in fact they are the opposite?

When was the last time we asked our nearest and dearest how we come across? Over this past few years I have had the privilege of coaching senior executives from Ford, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Microsoft, Edelman, Allianz, Siemens, Heineken, Deloitte, PWC, KPMG … It was my job to tell them what no one else in their company would – don’t shuffle like an old lady, don’t talk like you are delivering a news report/ Panorama documentary for the BBC, get rid of the jargon and paint a story. 

These senior execs are people with friends and family; take off the suit and they are real people with real emotions. Perception for them is about:

1) Realising the unwritten rules that the world of business feeds them about what to say, how to say it and how to play the job role. 

2) When these rules are exposed they see how they present by them and then they can see how they are truly perceived; we are a (sometimes unwelcome) mirror to our clients. 

3) Here is where the fun begins – through tried and tested technique for stage and screen we coach our clients to stand tall, breathe well, project loudly – find their true voice.

4) We have a deep dive into content and after that, it is all about application – what does it look like to sound genuinely interesting and simply human in a long, tiring board meeting? How do you deliver a really good beginning, middle and end to a story? What change does it make to our clients’ confidence levels and job satisfaction to know that they went it and represented themselves to the fullest that they could? It makes a huge difference. 

How do you measure confidence, contentment, a moment in a life where the light bulb switches on? Perhaps perception is the ultimate measuring tool – present who you truly are, let people see what is inside and the rest is all up for grabs.

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