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How to Become More of A People Person at Work

How to Become More of A People Person at Work

Interpersonal skills are critical in any workplace environment, and effective communication is important both on the personal and corporate levels. However, if you’re not naturally an outgoing people person, building relationships with colleagues can be difficult. Simply going into the break room to heat up your lunch can stress you out.

Luckily, as an article in Fast Company pointed out, there’s no such thing as a pure introvert or pure extrovert. We all have the ability to adapt to the situation and learn the communication skills we need to succeed. And while it can be scary to step outside of your comfort zone, the relationships you have with your co-workers can improve your productivity and satisfaction in your current job, as well as become an important part of your professional network for the future.

If interpersonal skills are not your forte, check these 5 tips to strengthen them at the office.

1. Work for an organization that you believe in and are confident about.

One of the hardest parts about interacting with people is finding common ground that makes it easier for you to connect. If you work for a company that you truly believe in, that’s a great starting point from which to build a relationship with co-workers. Knowing that you share an interest in the work you’re doing with those around you will make it easier to communicate with them.

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Most people automatically become more open and talkative when they’re discussing something they’re passionate about, and that enthusiasm is often contagious. Not only is it personally rewarding to share what you love, but this will also make you seem like more of a positive, upbeat individual. And your co-workers will enjoy your company more because of that.

If you feel your work isn’t something you’d feel excited telling someone else about, consider altering your career path. Useful tools like career exploration apps can help you figure out whether or not you’re in the right field, as well as learn about all the options available to you.

2. Keep your home and work lives separate.

There are few things more awkward or depressing than when a co-worker insists on bringing their home troubles into the office. There’s a thin line between telling your work friends about what you did over the weekend and the laundry list of things that are stressing you out.

Don’t make those around you uncomfortable by oversharing your personal life at work. While those types of conversations might feel cathartic to you, they can be distracting for everyone else. Additionally, they may cause others to avoid interacting with you out of fear of awkward situations. Leaving your home life behind when you go to the office will help you focus on work and be a more approachable colleague.

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3. Have balanced conversations.

There’s nothing worse than being cornered by a co-worker and having them go on and on about their idea without leaving you room to get a word in edgewise. Don’t be that person. Remember, a conversation is a two-way street. Communication isn’t just about talking; it’s also about listening.

Whether you’re interacting with a co-worker one-on-one or in a group, do your part to ensure everyone’s ideas are being heard. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to bring others into the conversation by saying “I’d like to hear what you have to say about this,” in order to get quieter people involved. This will help improve productivity and efficiency when brainstorming.

Also remember that this is important for more casual conversations as well. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Even if you have seen every episode of Game of Thrones, read all the books, and investigated every fan theory, other people deserve to speak up about the topic. Take a step back every now and again, and let others talk about their interests or opinions.

4. Set socializing goals for yourself.

For people who aren’t naturally outgoing, it can seem daunting to put yourself out there. However, if this a professional goal of yours, you need to make it a priority to mingle with your co-workers on a regular basis.

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Start small. Go to the break room twice a week for five minutes and strike up a conversation with whoever is there. Ask them about a project they’re working on or take the chance to thank them for something they helped you out on earlier in the week. You’re just trying to break the ice, so don’t stress out if you run out of things to talk about quickly. The key is baby steps.

From there, build up to weekly happy hours or team lunches to improve your social skills. Since these are longer events, it’ll require more interaction. However, because there will be multiple people there, you can make the rounds without putting too much pressure on yourself to talk with one person for an extended period of time.

5. Be mindful of your tone and body language.

The messages we send out to others aren’t purely defined by our words. Your tone and body language can also speak volumes. A variety of research reported on in Forbes found that everything from a smile to better posture can help you develop better relationships in the workplace.

Pay attention to co-workers who you view as confident and likeable. Do they stand up straight? How well do they maintain eye contact? Do they use certain words or tones that make them particularly effective communicators? Try to incorporate those things into your body language. Don’t stand or say things that seem unnatural to you, but practice in front of a mirror so you can improve your stance, movement, and tone in a way that’s natural to you.

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Your co-workers can play an important part in your professional success. They can be there to help you when you’re facing a problem or inspire you to work harder. But in order to develop those relationships, you have to focus on improving your interpersonal skills.

What are some other ways to become more of a people person? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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