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Learning to use your personal toolbox is not a cookie-cutter process. We’re here, instead, to scrape away all the veneer. To reveal the essential you. And in that way, you become the most powerful communicator you can be.
All effective communicators have a certain style. They use their tools in a way that establishes them as unique.
Effective communicators have a certain delivery style or a way of carrying themselves or a way of relating to their audiences. The best of us write our personal style all over every encounter we have with an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or one hundred.
It’s time to begin discovering your own personal style. The style that comes most naturally to you. The style that taps into your strengths, strengths you can build on.
In addition, it’s time to zero in on the quirks in your personal style that limit your effectiveness, that turn listeners off, that inhibit your power to teach or persuade or lead. Those are parts of your personal style, too; but they’re parts you can work to eliminate or downplay.
The Most Common Styles of Presenting
Most of us don’t identify our styles overnight. It requires experimentation, a willingness to try different things. If you’ll put in the energy and effort, and put our suggestions to work, your personal style will begin to emerge.
Here are the most common types of styles:
- The Teacher: This one is self-explanatory. This type of presenter conveys information. The teacher may or may not be bringing original information to the table; he or she may merely pull together existing information and present it in a clear and compelling way, in a way that convinces the listener to put that information to work.
- The Persuader: This person is in the business of getting us to buy – a product, a belief, a vision for what could be. They bring great passion and conviction to their message, usually a message of the heart. These people bare their souls for us, and in doing so, enable us to connect with them in a powerful way.
- The Prober: This person is a master at digging, prodding, uncovering thoughts or feelings or information none of the rest of us expected. This style calls for one who is inquisitive and intuitive; and often, one who doesn’t mind being rebuffed from time to time.
- The Humorist: More than just the stand-up comedian fits in this category. This person’s ultimate goal may be to provide information, to persuade or to lead, but what marks his or her style is the way the humor colors – and often dominates – the presentation. Humor works. It disarms. It grabs attention.
- The Conversationalist: This person engages in intimate conversation with whomever he interviews. They don’t grill, they don’t preach, they simply employ every single tool of an excellent conversationalist – active listening, eye contact, sincere interest in the other person and the topic.
- The Storyteller: This presenter communicates through the powerful use of stories – anecdotes, parables, examples from real life. We’re big fans of this style, because the storyteller has the opportunity to hit each of us where we live – through our emotions, our intellect, our senses. All in the same story. This is the power of storytelling.
Ways To Begin Identifying Your Style
- What mannerisms do you unconsciously use?
- Do you tend to speak more formally, or more conversationally?
- Do you illustrate your point with jokes or anecdotes? Or is your style to rely more on facts and figures, charts and graphs?
- Is your strength in boiling down complex information into bite-sized chunks people can understand easily?
- Are you comfortable sharing your personal experiences?
- Are you comfortable with confrontation?
- Do you find that people laugh easily when you share a story?
- Which is more comfortable to you, one-on-one conversation, or one-to-a-crowd?
Your answers will begin to tell you whether you are best suited to being the Teacher, Persuader, Prober, Humorist, Conversationalist, or Storyteller. But remember, your style will evolve as you learn to use all the toosl in your toolbox. Tyring to force yourself into a certain style may shut the lid on tools you don’t know you have it in you to use.
So be open. Let your style discover you.
Request Objective Feedback
Identifying your personal strengths and weaknesses begins with objective feedback. You can get that feedback a number of ways.
- Consider having your friend video you with their phone.
- Ask to be videotaped the next time you’re speaking to a group.
- Give a few presentations just for the camera. Then study the tape, using the checklists in this article as your measuring tape. Ask friends and family for feedback. Be especially honest with yourself. Remember, you can’t eliminate a problem if you pretend it doesn’t exist.
- You may also consider joining Toastmasters. Most communities have regular meetings of this organization. Both the feedback and the regular opportunity to present before a group are invaluable.
Embracing Your Evolving Style
There you have it. The Teacher, the Persuader, the Prober, the Humorist, the Conversationalist, the Storyteller. Each style so distinctive. Each powerful in its own way. And each growing even more powerful when it blends the techniques and tactics of the other styles. The storyteller who uses humor. The conversationalist who probes for deeper insights; the teacher who persuades by supporting her position with personal anecdotes.
Few of us are purely one style or another. But most of us have strengths in one arena or another. Find your personal strengths. Gain a sense of your personal comfort zone. Identify your personal style and you will have boosted your effectiveness as a communicator tenfold. Or more.
If you’re serious about advancing your skills and making an investment in yourself, we invite you to our Excellence in Speaking Institute. Classes are filling up quickly in 2018 so don’t delay! Visit this page to read feedback from our graduates about their experience.