How is a job interview, an important sales call, or a big presentation just like when your turn comes in Olympic Competition? In all of these, your future hinges on how well you perform in the next few minutes. How can you increase your chances of success?
As any Olympic Athlete will tell you – it’s mostly about the work you do to prepare yourself. When it comes to that job interview, sales call, etc., it’s really no different. So, how to be prepared?
Of course it’s essential that your preparation include planning what you’ll say. However, studies show that words make up only 7% of the essence of communication. So, if you primarily prepare what you plan to say, you’ve missed out on preparing 93% of your communication. What is this other 93%? It’s your body language and your tonality. That’s right, more than 90% of the meaning of your message is conveyed not by your words, but by your body language and tone. This is what will make or break your interview. And how much time do you typically spend preparing the effectiveness of these elements of your communication? If you’re like most people, almost none.
Body language and tonality are mostly subconscious communication elements. That is, we are not consciously thinking about, paying attention to and choosing these moment by moment while we communicate. They are shaped by our mood, our inner voice, our state of being, at a subconscious level.
As the athletes know, winning is mostly a mental game. That is, believing, and actually being congruent behind your belief, are key. It’s no different in communication. To be an effective communicator, to have your tonality and body language supporting your message and your objective, is an inner, mental game.
So, how do you make yourself a winner in your “games”? How can you prepare way beyond your “script” and ensure that you get the gold – the job offer, the sale, the result you were hoping for?
Belief – The #1 Essential Winning Strategy
When you know you are the right person for the job, or that your offer can really help this person, then your body language and your tonality will naturally and powerfully communicate this. If you can’t easily visualize the outcome you desire as if it’s already happened, and see it unfolding that way in your inner view, chances are your tone of voice and your body language will reveal your doubt. Despite all the effort you put into carefully designing what you’ll say, the message you communicate will be “I’m not the right one for this job,” or “You probably don’t want to buy this.”
Imagination – Your Best Tool
To get congruent so that all of your communication elements – words, tone and body language – are projecting what you want to get across, you can use the amazing power of ….. your imagination.
If you were about to get on stage to give the performance of your life, wouldn’t you rehearse? Well – how about it? Set aside time and rehearse, much as you would if you were about to do a theatrical performance. Imagine it as vividly as you can, including the surroundings, what you are wearing, what the other person or people are like, what they say, and what you say. Imagine feeling strong and confident. Imagine it all the way through, from the very beginning, all the way to “winning” and the feelings of triumph and jubilation that accompany the win.
Your Inner Doubter Can Be Your Best Ally
Unlike a pre-scripted performance, you’ll also want to rehearse how you will deal with any “curve balls” they may throw your way. Get really creative. Here is where your inner doubter can become your best ally. All of the “but what ifs” that this inner doubter can come up with – rehearse the best possible scenario that would still move you forward toward your desired outcome. Play and have some fun with this. The more bases you cover, the less likely you are to get tripped up during the real event.
It’s especially powerful to actually speak out loud as you do this rehearsing – practice actually getting the words out of your mouth, and experience for yourself whether or not you “sound convincing.”
Practice, Practice Practice
Because your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between the real event, and this imagined one (just think of the emotions you can experience while sitting in a comfortable seat in a movie theater), each time you imagine it is real. Athletes use this all the time, going through their event in their mind hundreds of times, so that by the time they arrive at the competition, it’s just another replay, rather than “the first time”. You can do this, too, so that your next interview is just another in a long line of successes.
The more you use this technique of rehearsing, and imagining the optimal outcome, the more you can also increase your belief, your overall sense that it will turn out the way you’re hoping – for example, that you will get a job offer, or get the sale. Take your practice runs all the way through to getting the desired result and feeling the excitement of the win. This is crucial to the process, because it increases your belief, and that will show up in your communication in terms of body language and tonality that are congruent with being the winner, and achieving the desired result.
Prepare your mental game, and you’ll increase your chances of a successful outcome. Don’t wait for “real” opportunities to practice. You can master most anything with enough practice, and practice is one of the easiest things to do – simply set aside the time, and leverage the power of your amazing mind to increase your odds of winning. Run through it over and over again until you can do it in your sleep. Perhaps you know some people you can bring into your game, and have them play some of the other characters in your practices. This can be a powerful way to practice as well, but it’s not necessary – your own imagination is enough. The more times you play it through successfully in advance, the more likely you’ll get the result you’re striving for.