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- Body Language and Gestures,
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Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm. He has delighted audiences around the world helping them achieve better business outcomes and accelerate their revenue with highly effective written, spoken, and social media communications. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after global speaker, columnist, consultant, and executive coach. Twitter @chiefstorytellr youtube.com/user/IraKoretskySpeaker
We laugh, we wince, and we empathize…sometimes.
We all receive the emails and telephone calls from non-native English speakers. It’s easy to tell the legitimate from the fake.
I received the email pictured below a few days ago from Flora Lawrence, her self-titled non de plume. Flora is from India and the way the email is written gives me considerable pause.
As such, this is more of an extreme example of what not to do. This tip of the week is for the legitimate professionals and organizations doing business in countries with different languages.
Since Flora’s first email subject line was “Premium website design,” I deleted it while on my personal computer. Her second email, “Re: Premium website design,” I read because I was on my mobile phone and pressed the arrow for next email.
What caught my eye was the first line, “Have you got a chance to overlook my earlier email…” Ignoring the “got” error, “overlook” made me wince and laugh—I absolutely overlooked your first email.
It doesn’t matter what the language is, you have to translate and localize your materials.
Speaking of localize, here is an example. As I was getting my haircut yesterday, I noticed the bottle in front of me. I read “light styling gel” and then saw the two smaller text lines in French and Spanish. Since I’m a decent conversationalist in Spanish, I gravitated to the message line, “gel un terminado suave.” To me, terminado means end or completed. In context, I knew I had to be wrong here as mine was a literal translation.
I then asked two women at the salon whom I knew were native Spanish speakers. For about three minutes they quickly discussed the word choice. Both agreed “un gel estilo suave” is a better choice. For the curious, in Google Translate “gel un terminado suave” means “over a soft gel” and “un gel estilo suave” means “style soft gel.” Now to me, the crux of this messaging conundrum is whether soft in Spanish is the same as light in English?
By the way, “Xie Xie” is Chinese for thank you.
As an Army veteran (that's me in the picture many years ago), I'm a member of several military and veteran LinkedIn groups. Recently someone posted a nice article titled, "19 Terrible LinkedIn Mistakes You're Making."
Several of the commenters were adamant in keeping a military-style profile picture. And I "adamantly" disagree.
And this is true of everyone. You should ONLY use a professional photograph - "No spouses, no friends, no boats, no dogs..."
Here's the comment I left.
"If you are using LinkedIn to transition out of the service, then you really should have a corporate-style photograph. No spouses, no friends, no boats, no dogs…just a professional head-shot.
Are you wearing your A's or BDU's to your corporate office? No. I live and work in the Washington, DC area -- No matter where you are, there is a government agency or military office. We are very used to seeing people in and out of uniform, especially reservists. This is not an issue of pride or identity in regard to the uniform.
I’m a very proud vet and proud of those before me, serving now, and future. I want you to have the very best advantage you can when transitioning. You only have one chance for a first impression. Having helped hundreds of veterans from all services with their career transitions and LinkedIn profiles, I know people are hiring you for the future, based on your past (same is true for everyone).
They need to see you are ready for corporate/association/government life. And the picture is the first…the first element in LinkedIn someone will see. LinkedIn is not a resume…it is your representation of what image you want to present. It should be all about your accomplishments.
Since you are being hired based on your military experiences, put "Army Veteran" in your professional headline. If you really want to showcase your service accomplishments with pictures, create a PDF or PowerPoint and upload it to SlideShare for free and provide a link to prospective employers. [I’d be happy to share with anyone several career articles on resumes, answering “tell me about yourself,” and LinkedIn. Also be happy to review any current service member or vet’s LinkedIn profile]"
Imagine you are delivering your standard 60-minute presentation. Your audience will understand most of what you say quickly, appreciate your humor (hopefully...), assume your body language is coordinated with your talking points, recognize the use of appropriate colors for the points (e.g., red is a problem area while green is a positive area), and more.
Not always true with international audiences.
When speaking internationally, successfully engaging your audiences becomes more complex. You have to account for differences in greetings, customs, traditions, hand gestures, colors, and more. One common custom is to thank a variety of people – the host, guests, dignitaries, etc.–before you begin your talk. This could be as long as five minutes…not a big deal in a 60-minute presentation…a huge deal if you are speaking for 15 minutes.
With you words, you are leaving nuances, metaphors, sayings, body language, interpretation, etc. in the hands of your translator. Additionally, English is a “shorter” language. Many other languages require more words to say the same thing.
Ira Koretsky, our CEO, ALWAYS spends a few minutes with the translator beforehand, reviewing the purpose of the presentation, high-level ideas, and words/concepts not likely common (e.g., elevator speech, executive story, business story, and networking). He also asks for the words/phrases in the native language so that he may use them in his presentation.
As a result, we suggest reducing your content at least 30% and perhaps as much as 50%.
Items to consider:
- Synchronization: With a simultaneous translator, your audience will be at least 15 seconds behind you in comprehension and timing in your program. If you have complex ideas, perhaps 30 seconds. It takes a little getting used to.
- Language: There are numerous examples of poorly translated words from one language to another that are embarrassing. Check before you go or change your words.
- Examples: Instead of giving one example, we suggest giving two or three examples to illustrate your point.
Do you think about what you say when talking? Of course you do. Do you think about your voice and your body language as well? Few people do. When you speak, you are using your words, voice, and body. For most people, the blending of these components comes natural.
What doesn’t come natural is how to purposefully use each of these three separately and together to heighten drama, improve rapport, emphasize points, and a lot more…
Going forward, I’d like to encourage you to think differently and think deliberately about how you use your words, voice, and body. For this tip, let’s focus on body language and how to build suspense.
Next time you are going to share a story or experience with a known moment of suspense, use your body deliberately rather than naturally. Complement your words and voice to heighten the dramatic moment.
At a high level, you are looking to add intensity to your words with your body. Adding intensity makes your story more interesting and memorable.
Experiment, mix, and test to find the ones that work best for you and your story.
1) Posture: Stand straight up and really stiffen your body like a wood board. Perhaps even clench your jaw
2) Make a Fist: Squeeze your hands and make them into fists
3) Eyes: Open them wide, really wide and at the same time, slightly move your head and
4) Arms: Make exaggerated arm motions while stopping “abruptly,” almost as if your arm was momentarily like a robot
5) Watch other speakers and presenters. Watch how how the speaker uses his/her body. Would you do the same thing? What would you do differently? Free resources include TED, TEDx, University Business Schools (e.g., Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford), Company Speaker Series (Google and LinkedIn), Political Speeches, and more.
6) Blend: As you become comfortable using the above techniques, deliberately alternate and blend these suspense techniques together.
While working with a client, I discovered something quite amazing and funny. Here’s what happened (short story version)…
My engagement was to help Ed (name changed) and his executive team to improve their influence and thought leadership. One of the easy fixes was to update their much-to-casual photos. In turn, the photos would be posted to touch points like their website, LinkedIn®, Twitter, blog, etc. I encouraged Ed to hire a professional photographer.
My next meeting with Ed was focused on his LinkedIn profile. I went to the website and downloaded his new photo, which looked the first picture below (I posed for this picture to protect confidentiality).
After downloading, I opened the picture in Photoshop to crop and post to LinkedIn®. I then laughed and laughed loudly. I now saw Ed’s entire original photo. Business on top and party on the bottom with his casual blue jeans and somethings in the background that should not have been there. A thought then popped into my head …was this true for everyone? Yes, all six executive bio pages.
What the designer did was take the quick approach by simply changing the HTML code to display a certain part of the image. The designer did not think the situation through as to the possibility a visitor would download the picture. And Ed went the route of asking one of his employees who was an aspiring photographer to take the pictures.
The moral of this story is…validate your visuals -- photographs for the web, visuals for presentations, pictures for Instagram, preview photos for social media sites, and the list goes on.