Reputation is one of the power sources of influence. We define reputation as an estimation of your overall qualities by others in the community to which you belong. This can feel really hard to capture and control, because it’s essentially the high-level read others make of you. At wolf & heron, we often, very technically, refer to it as your “vibe.”
Qualities that contribute to our reputation - especially reputations built on first impressions - are ones we typically think of as innate to a person: charisma, charm, grace. They’re not learnable or acquirable… you just have them or you don’t. But that’s wrong!
In fact, there are a few teeny little details that you can tweak that will hugely impact general impressions of you. We call them the 5Ps of Presenting (Yourself).
Projection: The way you visually and aurally span the distance between yourself and others
People don’t want to strain to hear you, nor do they want to be cowering in the corner as you bellow your point to the stratosphere. The trick with projection is gauging what’s appropriate for the environment (are you in a cramped office cubical or in a theater?) and confidently filling the space available to you with your voice and body.
Pace: The rate of your speech and progression of information
When it comes to the progression of information, the trick here is to stay exactly on pace with your audience. Go too fast, and your audience will fall behind, feel overwhelmed, and think you’re an ass. Go too slow, and they’ll get bored and think you’re a bit of a dunce. The tool at your disposal is the pace of your own speech. If you talk faster, it will actually physiologically increase the heart rate and nerve firings within your audience, creating a feeling of anticipation or anxiety. If you talk slower, your audience will calm down and relax. Depending on what you’re going for, both faster and slower are useful tools… as long as they’re used appropriately. When things are out of synch, your audience will dismiss you.
Pitch: The tonal inflection of your voice
With pitch, the key is variability. Human beings love music, and voices that have intonation and rhythm are more appealing to us. Don’t be monotone… be animated and let that shine through. Your audience will like you better for it.
Presence: The use of your body
This is all about the subconscious messages your audience receives from you because of the signals your body sends. In the context of presenting yourself for the sake of influence power, the key is appearing confident. People like confidence in other people, and will therefore like you if you show up confidently. A solid stance, grounded body weight, broad gestures, steady eye contact, and open palms all communicate the fact that you are self-assured and stable. These are good things. Go for them!
Punch: Emphasis on specific words communicated through vocal and physical reinforcement
This is a key performance element, when you think about how you show up. Using punch effectively can go a long way to making you appear qualified, self-assured, and articulate. It allows you to appear confident and assertive, and also happens to make whatever you are saying come alive. The caveat here is use it judiciously and watch that your body language doesn’t turn from punchy to pushy.
When you think about incorporating these 5Ps into the way you carry yourself out in the world, start with easy, confined moments like a presentation or a talk or something else that you would prepare for in advance anyway. You can practice the 5Ps ahead of time and see how they feel in the moment. Over time, the Ps will become part of who you are and exude naturally outward in a way that’ll solidify your reputation into a power source to reckon with.
Which of the 5Ps is easiest for you? Which is hardest?
-- Stephanie Judd, Cofounder, wolf & heron