Our Speak Up! public speaking workshop series continued on March 2nd with a discussion around workplace communication. The session was led by Brianna Blaney, founder and managing partner of the employer branding and people solutions firm Envol Strategies. Blaney shared her pro tips for making a strong first impression, delivering presentations, handling negotiations, and navigating tough conversations at work.
The handshake exchange is your first opportunity to establish yourself in a new professional relationship. When introducing yourself to a new colleague, initiate the handshake with a firm grasp, shake their hand twice, make eye contact, and repeat the person’s name back to them. Following these steps during the initial meet and greet will ensure you strike a good impression.
When answering the question, “Tell me about yourself,” aim to tell the story of who you are in less than 60 seconds. Give a self-narrative that goes beyond your job title by mentioning your interests, your passions, and whatever it is that gets you going. In your conversation, think about how you can relate your story back to the person you are speaking with by considering what you could do for them and ensuring what you say has relevance to them.
Whether your presentation is intended to inform or instruct, or persuade or inspire, there are a few key elements needed to succeed in giving a solid presentation. Open your presentation with a bang by stating your goal from the get-go and thus setting the expectations. As you deliver your ideas, establish connection and build rapport with your audience by incorporating their preferences into your communication style (by mirroring elements such as their collective language, tone, and speed). Keep the tone conversational and encourage your audience’s input by being open to discussion, questions, and feedback during and following your presentation.
Negotiating (Like a Boss)
Along with doing your market research, Blaney recommends writing out an updated job description for your role in order to know your worth and to prepare you for proving your case through negotiation. Consider the full scope of your work performance to date and outline your responsibilities, achievements, and milestones. This will also provide evidence of your added value to the company. As for your ask, know your minimum desired outcome and your idea desired outcome, as you will likely land somewhere in the middle. When negotiating salary, evaluate your total compensation package and review aspects such as benefits, vacation, wellness packages, transportation reimbursements, and professional development allowances.
When navigating tough conversations, be accurate, brief, and clear. Maintain accuracy by sticking to the facts and use “I” statements for connection and effectiveness. Keep things brief and concise, summarizing the situation in 30 seconds or less. Strive to make your thoughts clear, your feedback straightforward, and your ask direct. Once your message is delivered to the recipient, frame the situation as an opportunity for an open dialogue and be receptive to hearing the other person’s point-of-view, as this can lead to potential solutions.
Whether you’ve just joined the team, are in a new role, or have been working at your company for a while, it can be incredibly nerve-inducing to speak up at work. However, the act of contributing your ideas verbally helps you define your voice. No matter how big or how small the conversation, practice goes a long way, and you will see the results as you begin to develop confidence, strengthen your influence, command respect from your colleagues, solidify your professional brand, and ultimately accelerate your career.
Sign up for our upcoming workshops in the Speak Up! event series to strengthen your public speaking skills. We can’t wait to see you!
Elizabeth Rosalyn The is the Communications Coordinator for YWiB Vancouver's events team. Currently, she is the content & social media specialist at Rise People, a digital HR software company that brings HR, payroll, and benefits together in an all-in-one people platform.
A lover of stories, she lives to explore and write about the arts, music, entertainment, travel, and culture, all while sipping on a cup of earl grey tea. She is one of the founding directors for the pop culture & lifestyle magazine, The Hudsucker. Visit her personal blog at Elizabeth Rosalyn.