Anna Soo Wildermuth

Welcome to Personal Images, Inc.!

Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Answering tough questions

question_makrs_cutie_mark_by_rildraw-d4byewlThese tips that will help you navigate through responding to tough questions, a very important skill needed in front of an audience or while on the phone:

• Take your time
• Speak to what can be done, never on what cannot be done
• Use a positive tone and calm voice – especially on the phone
• In person, display engaged facial expressions

Twitter – your best friend or worst enemy

penTweets are supposed to be positive, never inflammatory. The idea is to provide resources and stay connected. An accusatory or negative tweet will damage your brand.

I was involved with a client who wanted to save an employee. Unfortunately, when an issue did not favor this person, he aired dirty laundry in a tweet. This was not about freedom of speech, it hurt the company and resulted in the employee being let go.

Men and their shoes

brogues-and-jeans-730x500Polished leather shoes are becoming more commonplace with jeans for business casual. The rock stars and actors still favor the white or colorful athletic shoe. However, professionals have found that high gloss leather finished shoes gives elegance to their look.

Recently Marc Marion, a stand up comedian and podcast host, was featured in a well-known publication wearing very casual clothes with polished leather shoes. He looked very smart.

Being on time – a rare professional quality

alice-wonderland-rabbit-clockI often hear complaints about those who are never on time. They arrive late, run overtime in meetings causing extended sessions that nobody wants. Everyone is busy and it shows a lack of respect for those waiting. Here are some tips to stay on time:

• Plan to arrive 15 minutes early
• Plan a 60-minute meeting agenda for 50 minutes
• If you need more time as a presenter, ask for it in the beginning of the talk
• Always assume everyone’s schedules are busier than yours

Handshake Etiquette

conflict_resolution250WA handshake is a personal touch to establish a relationship. The dictionary states that a handshake is “a gripping and shaking of right hands by two individuals, as to symbolize greeting, congratulation, agreement, or farewell.”

I am continually surprised at the greeting handshakes that are either only finger tips touching or the grip is so strong it hurts. If you cannot shake hands for health reasons, just say I would love to shake your hand but I have a terrible cold or ___. It is better to speak up than to ignore shaking hands.
The five-star handshake is palm to palm, nice and firm with one or two pumps made while you look each other directly in the eye. This handshake says I want to get to know you.

Hugging

coaching 2Hugging in professional setting is really only acceptable when folks have a long term relationship and hugging has been established early on. If you want to hug someone, ask for permission to do so.

If you are not a hugger and have been asked if you can be hugged, it is your right to say no. However, do so in a way that lets the person know you want to have a relationship with them.

Hugging can be tricky when it involves men and women so proceed with caution. I personally like hugging a long term friend and client. It says to them I enjoy working with you.

Delivering difficult news

ElephangIn a recent brewing scandal involving a major sports organization, the president of the group made a statement about it. What impressed me about this is that the president refrained from the usual allegation denial. Instead, he expressed concern while stating the incident was under investigation and would be addressed after the findings were revealed.

It was genuinely felt that the organization would be honest with the findings. Delivering difficult news must be heartfelt and honest. This approach was much better than not speaking about the situation or worse, defending it before all the facts were in.

Moderating a panel discussion

microphone-vectorGood moderators do their homework. First, they know the discussion contents. They know the panelists from interviewing them before the actual event. They have prepared an introduction of each of the them.

The time allotment for each answer is discussed with each panelist prior to the event. The moderator has the authority to monitor the time. Successful moderators create a safe environment for the panelists and simultaneously satisfy the audience that the promised content has been delivered.

Asking questions

26447en_USI_QuestionMarkOften, questions are asked in an intrusive manner during troublesome situations. The tone of voice is as culpable as words in creating a polarized environment as are gotcha questions. We see this in television interviews.

Clients with impressive technical skills sometimes act like bulls wandering in a china shop when asking questions. The message to others when this occurs is: I don’t want to work with you.

Start with what they do well and then ask how we can make the situation better to secure a successful result. When they offer what does not work begin to ask the “Why” question which, when answered truthfully, usually brings out a viable solution.

Accepting an award

award cup.magesAt a recent event, a client was the last person to accept an award. Unfortunately, the other award winners were funny and seemed to have either practiced their acceptance speeches or were adept at adjusting to statements by earlier award winners.

If I had been hired to coach the client on speaking in public especially when accepting an award, I would have mentioned the following critical elements for a winning acceptance speech:

1. Remember, 30 to 60 seconds is the shortest length of time and 90 seconds to two minutes the longest when accepting an award.
2. Differentiate yourself with your own personal story to tie into the thank you.
3. Be generous with crediting the folks who helped you win the award.
4. Inject a bit of humor. It goes a long way.
5. Practice in front a sounding board.

Following these guidelines will give you an 80% chance to give a memorable acceptance speech.