Imagine you are about to give a presentation to the board of directors or to an important potential client. You have been preparing it for months and are eager to convince them with your ideas.
Ten minutes before, you get a phone call with upsetting news. One of your friends has been killed in an accident. How do you handle this? Will you cancel the meeting? Will you go on pretending nothing happened?
If there is one thing, I have learned over the years, showing your vulnerability in a business environment is not perceived as bad. On the contrary, showing who you really are can open people´s minds and doors. Unfortunately almost of us tend to “put on a show”, when we are not at ease or when we feel the need to prove ourselves in a professional environment.
When I am presenting, I try to make my introduction always very personal. You can share information about who you really are. It is not about what you have achieved in your career, but things you are passionate about. Because they matter, you automatically bring them in an authentic and natural way. If you know the group, you can share an interesting personal story. Your audience will be with you from that first moment…
People are convinced by people, more than a product or a service. What matters most in the personal contact and the connection you make….
The past weeks I have been visiting several conferences and network events and it always hits me how people put on a mask. They seem to like to show how they have everything under control and successful in their careers, but of course I know that everyone has problems and personal issues, but no one wants to share this side of their lives because they are afraid to be seen as unprofessional. By realizing this, it was often challenging for me to really connect with people, certainly when I felt they were hiding behind their masks.
One trick I have is to try to turn the conversation on to a more personal level by opening with things like “So glad I could make it today, there was so much stuff to organize for the kids with school and the sports they do, sometimes I would like to split myself into 3 of 4 pieces,…” or by asking a more personal opening statement like “I really like your earrings”. Why should the conversation always be distant or cold? It is so much nicer to really be you. People tend to be much more open this way and it enables the discussion.
So coming back to my introduction, would I be able to do the presentation? Yes, I would. Would I pretend nothing happened? No I would not. There is nothing wrong with showing emotions and a real face; we all are humans after all!