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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Archive: Anna’s Posts

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.

Do shoes make the man?

nike-esquire-sneakers-whiteA recent Tribune article asked if a man can wear gym shoes with a suit. In celebrity magazines, we see actor’s wearing funky shoes with suits and tuxedos. If you are in the fashion or marketing industry or a billionaire why not? For everyone else, if you want to be taken seriously and not be the focus of conversations about your shoes, stick with traditional footwear. For pizazz, mix it up with a different color leather (not red!).

Hose etiquette

blue pattern leggingsI was surprised to see a Diane von Furstenberg model wearing dark hose with a light color sandal promoting a skirt dress. Wearing hose with open toe sandals is becoming more mainstream. These are a few guidelines to ensure you will look smart and not frumpy:

• Wear dark sheer hose with a dark sandal
• Pattern hose will look best with a sandal in the color same family
• Hose must be toeless – no seams at the toes
• Tights can be the exception in coordinating color with the shoe when the tights match the outfit

If in doubt, chose a color close to the sandal rather than the dress or skirt.

Being nice is still critical for business success

the-big-love-heart-4aThe last article of a favorite Chicago Tribune business section columnist reiterated that he has not changed his opinion. Being nice, kind and thoughtful is critical to business success.

In my twenty plus years, I have found the executives with longevity are the ones who are good business people but also known as nice folks.

What do successful people do in difficult times?

jumping couple in field under cloudsThese are my key elements to help transition from difficult to better times:

• Learn from the situation, no matter how difficult
• Never dwell on the past
• Put a plan in place to move forward
• Take responsibility for the situation
• Get support from family and peers

The Bad Boss

noRecently, I read a Chicago Tribune Business Section article about what makes a boss bad. Here are some of key findings:

• They do not recognize your achievements.
• They verbally abuse you in public.
• They pit you against your peers.
• They offer no support or tools to help you achieve results.
• They have no interest in you as a person only as a tool to achieve their goals.

How do you survive with a bad boss (And, I had more than one before starting out on my own!) The best way is to treat their unfortunate appearance as a learning experience. Also, keep in mind that these bad bosses treat everyone the same way so it is not personal.

Working through bad boss experiences helped me work with clients to make them better leaders.

Why is presence so important?

targetOften, I observe technically competent folks with reasonable communications skills rise up the ladder pretty quickly and then hit a wall. The C-Suite does not see them as the face of the organization. This usually is first impressions garnered on connecting with an audience. It is the way they carry themselves meaning posture, pace and how they look any audience in its collective eye.

Also, it’s putting together clothing choices, grooming and the key ingredient of style and confidently navigating situations. They can be cut some slack if it is noticed that confidence and communication skills promote steadiness. Can some develop the critical factor of presence to move into the C suite?  Yes, with the right coach, mentors and champions, the C-Suite is a possibility!