By Louise Harris
Women sometimes feel unsure of themselves and are afraid to speak to groups of people. Luckily, they can discover how to master techniques that will give them all the confidence and power they need to succeed, according to Liz Boeder, an expert in teaching sales skills.
Throughout her business career, Boeder worked in retail sales, training sales associates in the art of selling. She has also honed her skills as a member of Toastmasters, which helps people overcome their fear of public speaking and teaches them to speak more effectively to potential clients and to groups of people. She invites women and men to join her on Savvy to impart her knowledge on public speaking.
“Many women do not speak assertively because it doesn't come naturally to them,” said Boeder during our interview. “I help them learn techniques that make them appear confident, which, in turn, actually builds their confidence.”
Boeder explains that her techniques can be used prior to a meeting with a potential client on a one-to-one basis and before a large group of people. The actions people take for these situations are the same. The more people practice these techniques, the more confident they become.
Stand Powerful Like Wonder Woman
Boeder's favorite pose is the “Wonder Woman Pose.” In this pose, women stand tall with their hands on their hips. This is a powerful pose and imparts a confident feeling in the person. She suggests women stand for a few minutes in this pose before appearing on stage or meeting someone for the first time. While in this pose, women should breathe deeply and concentrate on what they are feeling. They should ask themselves, “What do I want to achieve from this meeting?”
The answers are different for each individual, Boeder explained. They might want to feel confident and in control. They might want their audience to be receptive to their messages. They might want to be respected for their ideas. They might want to close a sale.
Shake Hands Correctly
The handshake tells a lot about a person. If a person shakes a hand with his or her hand on the bottom, that sends a signal that he or she is OK with being dominated, said Boeder. If he or she shakes with his or her hand on the top, it says the person is in control and will be a bully. However, if a person shakes a hand where both hands line up side by side, it shows the other party that he or she wants to be equals and respects the other's opinions. It tells the others that a person is willing to listen attentively.
While handshaking is taught more effectively in-person, Boeder does offer explanations on the computer during her Savvy lessons. She helps her clients visualize the best handshaking techniques to make people feel more confident.
Six-Second Smile Lights Up the Audience
When the people women are speaking to seem indifferent or aren’t listening, Boeder recommends using the six-second smile. In this technique, the speaker looks at the person who seems indifferent and smiles at that person for six seconds. The smile must be a full, joyful smile that lights up a room. This tells the other person that the speaker wants him or her to participate and that they appreciate their opinions. The smile increases attention and gets the audience engaged. Follow up the smile by maintaining eye contact and asking the person a question, such as “What do you feel about what I have explained so far?”
Maintain Eye Contact
Sometimes, women fail to maintain eye contact with people they want to get to know better. When people look others in the eyes, they show that they are interested in them. They want to hear what is said. When women are attending networking events, speaking to clients or speaking to a group, they should maintain eye contact with. others as this projects confidence in what they have to say and an interest in the other parties.
Long Pauses Serve Positive Purpose
Before answering a question, speakers should step back, breathe and take a long pause. This builds confidence because it gives the speaker time to decide how to answer the question and thus will appear thoughtful. They will show the other person they really understand the material and the answer is worth the wait. The pause also slows down the thinking, which helps center people and focuses them on the materials.
Steeple Hands Are for More Than Praying
Boeder teaches another confidence-building pose in the steepled hands. women to steeple their hands prior to a speaking engagement. The action conveys to the audience that the speaker is in deep thought. It also brings focus to the person speaking and a calmness if he or she is nervous.
Ask Questions First
Attend any conference and it will be obvious that the speaker waits until the end to ask if the audience has questions. Boeder says to flip that and ask if the audience has questions up front. This would bring the audience into the topic faster and ensure the speaker covers what the audience wants to know. She recommends asking, “Why did you come today?” “What do you hope to understand at the end of this topic?” Give the audience what they seek. At the end of the talk, take a bow so people will clap and leave without getting bogged down with audience questions.
When attending a networking event or meeting someone for the first time, women should glance at the person's feet. If they are pointing toward the person speaking, then they are interested in the speaker. If they are pointed to the side, they want to leave the conversation.
Top Tips to Take Away:
Be centered and focused
Have loose shoulders
Have good posture (no slouching)
Lean toward people
Stand next to someone (not across)
Women tend to understand feelings more than mn and can learn to use that skill to nurture their communication styles. By leveraging powerful body language that projects confidence, pausing when they need a break, being a careful observer of the body language of other people, and using mindfulness techniques to remain calm, they can grow in their business and professional lives.