Three things affect whether you’re seen as having leadership potential, according to research by the Center for Talent Innovation: projecting gravitas, maintaining a polished appearance, and having great communication skills.
When it comes to communicating effectively, however, many professionals fall into common communication traps that undermine their authority and obscure their message. In the March issue of More magazine, Dee Soder, founder of executive advisory firm the CEO Perspective Group, details three top speaking mistakes and how to avoid them:
Sentence hijacking. Think it makes you look smart to finish someone’s sentence? It doesn’t. Just annoying. Soder recommends waiting until the person speaking has finished. If someone else has interrupted them, she advises saying, “Let me go back to what Susan said.”
Overgesturing. Talking with your hands too much diminishes your power and can make you look like a flailing imbecile. If this is a problem for you, Soder suggests wearing a watch or bracelet to remind yourself not to overgesture or, if sitting, to put one hand under your leg to force yourself to be still.
Talking too quickly. Especially when you’re excited or nervous, you may speak faster than people can listen. They might miss your point or ask you to repeat yourself. To find the right speaking pace, Soder says to mimic your favourite news anchor.
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