Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of fascinating articles on Inc. that relate to the course I teach: Professional Communication and Presentation. We focus on public speaking and presentation, but we also examine what it means to be a “professional communicator” in assignments such as the visual resume (check out my visual resume below).
In “10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself,” Jeff Haden explains how we should refer to and talk about ourselves on LinkedIn, in our cover letter, and on a resume (or a visual resume). Haden takes us through ten overused words such as passionate, unique, and innovative and explains why these ideas are now cliché. So just how can we stand apart from the competition?
Since my class began the Visual Resume project, you’d think every single student came perfectly cookie cuttered from the same factory assembly line. They’re all exceptionally creative, organized, and unique team-players with extensive experience and strong communication skills.
Don’t just take it from me. Read LinkedIn’s review of the most overused words in 2011. The same words cross over from Haden’s list.
Haden adds “authority” and “guru” to the list, which I feel is interesting. He argues, “[i]f you have to say you’re an authority, you aren’t” (Source). Instead of “trying too hard,” Haden suggests we list specific strengths. For example, my students should say “Pianist for XYZ” instead of “Musical Ninja.” The point is, Haden says, “[s]ome of those terms truly may describe you, but since they’re also being used to describe everyone else they’ve lost their impact” (Source).
This has got me excited for my own Visual Resume 2.0 update sometime soon! I have plenty to tweak, edit, and change based on Haden’s advice:
We talk a lot in my class about charisma as it relates to public speaking and presentation. Students (and even some professors!) believe “charisma” is a magical quality we were either born with or not. How, then, can one person be charismatic during one speech but not during another? As it relates to public speaking, charisma is developed through a perfect intersection of 1) speech content/message, 2) delivery, and 3) visual design. When the three legs of the presentation stool come together through effective preparation, audience analysis, and practice, we nail our presentation, and audiences feel we have charisma. When one leg is wobbly, we lose that magical quality.
Jeff Haden agrees that “charisma isn’t something you have. It’s something you earn” (Source). In “How To Be More Charismatic: 10 Tips,” he details how you can work to be a more charismatic person. Just like with presentation, his tips involve being audience-focused as opposed to self-centered.
To learn more about how to be a charismatic presenter, check out my three-part series here.