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: Speaking Skills

When is too much information a bad thing?

haircut disasterInformation overload is a killer because it can jumble the true issues. Setting a timeline and a process to gather data are the first critical steps to ensure enough data is gathered. Doing the early research to determine what and how much information is needed sets you on the right path to completion. The timeline of when the project or report is due also acts as a finish line. Duplicate and / overwhelming information will only complicate the end result.

For a successful message, begin with the end in mind

3637986782_Google20Talk_xlarge_answer_2_xlargeOften, folks presenting start with the details and eventually get to the point. However, presenters who begin with the end in mind and then wait for a reaction from the audience can discuss the supporting points based on that audience response, tend to deliver a more impactful message. They show their audience respect and allow them to ask better informed questions.

Zip the lip

no_talking1Social media has a life of its own. It is worse than gossip and can haunt those who traffic in it and anyone around them. Facebook and Twitter are platforms to express news and instant emotional reactions, good and bad.
People have even gotten fired for being caught up in loose comments made in the news by high powered folks. They thought if it was ok by those folks, then they could say it too. However, the reality is that some have power and freedom without repercussions and others face the wrath. If something is that important for you to express it in writing, write the words to yourself first and decide the way you want to handle it the next day.

Speaking at a Memorial

microphone-vectorI was recently reminded of a time I was asked to be the lead speaker at a memorial by my sister for her husband. Later, a friend mentioned how she enjoyed her husband’s service. The friend liked how each person who spoke shared a thoughtful insight and in some cases, a humorous story about her husband.

What is important in a memorial service is that the individual is brought to life in a unique way through the folks speaking. Make sure that speakers are given a brief guideline prior to speaking. Serving as a lead speaker at a memorial service is an honor. It is also a responsibility to the family to help coordinate the service.

Swimming with the sharks

sharksRecently, a well-known prime time news anchor tried to validate a point with a spokesperson by asking a question about a lie from the spokesperson’s team that appeared on the news. This anchor is known for integrity and has a knack for handling sensitive subjects with the guests on the show.

The spokesperson was a shark, a fast talker employing a high spin level skill at making observations and details sound like facts. The anchor, unfortunately, did not respond well even though he the truth was behind the question.

What I would recommend, is to ask the questions at least three times. Then, instead of doing the cha-cha with the guest, end the conversation on a high note by letting the other person to wallow in their own comments. Don’t swim with the sharks unless you possess some shark skills of your own!



stop-panic-attacksAs a firm believer in taking deep breaths to calm myself, I know it can sound trite when you’re told to breathe in difficult situations. A recent article in the New York Times business section by Phyllis Korkki showcased an interview on Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist who re-teaches people to breathe. The correct way is to breathe horizontally and from the middle of the body. Expanding your belly while inhaling through your nose and squeeze your belly inward while exhaling. This will help you move through difficult situations and also open more space for creativity.

How do you sound?

microphone-vectorExpressing passion when speaking about your subject is an important way to connect to your audience. The key is to control the volume of your voice. It is easy to mistake yelling for passion. Practice by audio and videotaping your presentations. This helps determine when and where the voice needs to change to reflect the key moments in the speech. When a voice raises in sound, it projects a different feeling than yelling does. Use one to three fingers on your throat to gauge when your voice goes too high or low. You can raise or lower your voice to make a point and determine the most effective tone based on the audience size and speech content.

Present to the audience needs

microphone-vectorIn group presentations, the key is to provide what the audience needs. Sounds simple, but is it really? In a recent meeting with a client, we worked on major areas to master when giving a group presentation. One, the answer to the question being asked should be backed with common sense, stats if possible and some context or history around it.

Secondly, the answer must flow in the overall presentation, whether it is to present a situation or provide forecasts for the group or organization.

Lastly and most importantly, the presenter must truly believe in it. Using these three simple rules means a 90% chance for a successful experience.

Three keys to becoming a job interview champion

networking-pic-gifConnect with the interviewer – do your research on the company, position, and industry. Know their competition, their strengths and what make their employees happy. This helps you generate impactful questions, letting the interviewer know you understand their opportunities and challenges.

Be able to talk about yourself – prevent an interrogation by the interviewer. Practice talking about yourself with a friend. Video a mock interview of yourself to see how you can strengthen your presence. When you do, be prepared to see a different person on the video than the one you think you are.

Be memorable – follow up professionally even if you are not offered the position. You got your foot in the door this time. Make sure they think of you next time.

Passion vs. Script

lipsThere have been many books and articles about what makes a great speaker. Politicians, especially during an election year, are great examples of passion versus script. The folks that get up in front of you who truly believe in what they are speaking about, bring us into their world. We feel their commitment and beliefs. The folks who are scripted never really hook us into their ideas. They may have more substance and experience but unfortunately, they may struggle to attract followers or win elections by relying solely on script instead of passion.