Your personal brand is composed of many connected parts. Communication is one of the most important, and far-reaching aspects of your brand. When we think about communication today, we often think of how quickly we reply to emails, how we navigate a cold call, or occasionally the way we conduct ourselves and what we say during meetings and interviews. These factors certainly influence our personal brand, but they are not the full story.
Personal Image, Body Language and Brand
Body language, non-verbal communication, and your personal image are a huge factor in how you are perceived, and how your brand is received. Certainly, the idea that “looks aren’t everything” is true, and as important now as it ever was, but when cultivating a personal brand, the messages that your image sends are important. Whether we agree with it or not, people will form impressions of us based on the way we present ourselves, the way we speak, and the way we behave.
Your personal brand is, simply put, the way you want to be perceived professionally. There are different key areas we tend to focus on when talking about a personal brand: the way you come across to others; the messages you send with the way you dress; the tone of your voice and your body language; and your communication style. When interacting with others in person, your brand is inextricable from your personal image. In fact, people tend to form their impressions based on your visual presentation of yourself (55%), the words you use (only 7%), and the tone and pitch of your voice (38%). It’s important to ask yourself (and trusted others) what messages your image is portraying
Look Your Best, Feel Your Best
In addition to the impact that your personal image has on your colleagues and peers, it also has an impact on yourself. It has been shown that taking pride and putting effort into your image can affect your confidence and demeanor. If you feel comfortable and confident in the image you are conveying, you feel more comfortable and confident in your message and in yourself.
Body Language in Practice
Recently, in the Daily Express, I was quoted regarding my expert opinion of Theresa May’s body language. This was a very interesting case study–a strong, female leader, discussing a widely debated topic. There are many options for how May could have conducted herself: a more backward-leaning, conciliatory posture; an aggressive, finger-pointing style; or even a more jovial style could have been options. Regardless of the content of her message, each of May’s movements and postures was carefully considered for maximum effect.
It was particularly interesting to analyze the body language between May and Jean Claude Juncker during their joint address–body language becomes increasingly important when you are sharing the stage (so to speak) with another party. It’s important to come across as authoritative, and in control of oneself, without acting domineering. This involves being in control of your own body language and image, while also being acurely aware of your peers.
Carefully Considered, Effortlessly Delivered
Body language is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Like many aspects of your personal brand, it can take practice, and careful consideration. Trained actors spend years honing their ability to portray the “right” body language at a given time, and while your personal brand should come more naturally to you than a movie role, many of the same principles are at play. Think about the character you want to portray; this is the role of your life!
Ask yourself, what are the three adjectives that I would want people to associate with my personal brand? Is your image supporting those descriptions? Does your body language convey your attitude? Becoming aware is the first step toward developing an approachable yet impressive personal image.
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