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Right Tool Right Job- Social Media

Right Tool Right Job- Social Media

I had this idea that I bet Leon and the others can riff on. Basically: there are plenty of tools out there for lots of aspects of life. Let’s make sure we propose the proper tool (or our take on a good tool) for the right job. From managing our tasks and priorities to determining how best to engage our communities, let’s all start looking around for the right tools.

My first swing at this: Social Media.

Blogs are a Platform

Use blogs to communicate with a community about what interests you. If you’re a corporate blogger, write about the good and the bad about your subjects. If you’re just writing about yourself and your passions, great, but try to make the posts relevent to people outside of yourself. Be real. Be fresh. Communicate in both directions. Enable comments. And write back to those who comment. (Disclaimer: as a blog is a very multi-purpose tool, some of you will disagree with me on this all- comment!)

Blogs can also be used as a knowledge base, but aren’t *as* good at that function, because that relies on updates, and/or edits to fix the problems. (my favorite knowledge base is a wiki- see below).

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I prefer WordPress (or hosted WordPress), but Blogger, Vox, and several others are equally good.

Wikis are Good for Knowledge Bases

Wikis are editable websites that permit multiple users to interact and easily edit details on a page. We used a wiki as the core organizing tool for PodCamp, our unconference about new media community tools. We used it for everything from posting up hotel deals for the area, to scheduling the sessions, to registration.

I prefer PBWiki and also Wikia, but there are tons out there.

Twitter is for Presence

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Lots of people have opinions in all directions about Twitter. Briefly, it’s a tool that lets you post 140 characters to a group of friends via SMS, the web, IM, or several 3rd party apps. The site officially asks the question: “What are you doing?,” but you can use the tool however you want.

Use Twitter to point out items of interest on your blog, on other people’s blogs, and in the world around you. Contribute to the larger conversation amongst your friends lists (Twitter works best when you add lots of friends). Use it to show you or your organization’s presence. (And if you want to add me, I’m chrisbrogan.)

Flickr is for Color and Vibrance

Using a photo sharing site like Flickr adds a visual appeal to your social media toolkit. If you’re an organization, take snaps of the people in the company. Take pictures at your social events. Post pictures from your public excursions. And/or take pictures of things that interest you specifically as a human working within that organization.

One of my all time favorite examples of this is following Dave Gray, CEO and founder of XPlane. His personal passions translate well into the nature of his business, which is a visual thinking practice (they help organizations explain complex things with clever visualizations).

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Other similar sites are Zooomr and Photobucket. There are plenty more.

Podcasts and Videoblogging are for Relationship

Building an audio podcast or a video product for your organization or yourself is a great way to bring even more humanity into the picture. Not unlike the pictures, a podcast adds another content experience, and also adds a voice (and better still a face) to the experience. Podcasts can be in the “how to” vein of using a product or service. They can be advice podcasts, which also build up your reputation as a thought leader in your space.

It’s hard to recommend tools here. There are lots of ways to skin this cat. The most important advice? Don’t spend a lot. Don’t buy some fancy solution from someone charging you thousands to make a podcast. You can do it for free or cheap, including hosting, by just looking around a little.

I recommend Odeo for the easiest audio recording experience. I recommend Blip.tv as a good hosting site for videoblogging/video podcasts (don’t get hung up on the names). If you want to edit things a bit, for audio, try Audacity. For video, use either the built-in Windows Media Maker or iMovie on a Mac before trying anything tricky and expensive.

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RSS Readers and Search Tools for Ego-Surfing

It’s great that you’re going to engage with all the tools above to reach out to people, but are you listening? If you’re lucky, there are lots of blogs and podcasts and other websites talking about you or your product or your service. Not everything is going to happen on your site. You’ve gotta find the conversations and engage people on their own turf.

Use a good RSS reader. These are tools to let you subscribe to blogs and podcasts such that you read lots of things from one website or application. (Talking further about RSS- Really Simple Syndication- would take up another 2000 words) I like Google Reader, or you can use Bloglines, or one of the built-in RSS readers. The better you get, the more you should demand from the reader.

To track what people are saying about you elsewhere, use sites like Technorati and Google Blogsearch. Both let you make RSS feeds from your searches, which you can then just throw into your RSS reader for “ego surfing.” This tool, more than any others, is vital to understanding how you or your brand or your product are perceived. Hint: if there’s nothing out there, you need more work promoting what you’re doing.

And Now, Your Take

What else have I missed? What other social media tools would you recommend to do the job right? Do you feel I’ve used these tools inappropriately? Jump into the comments section and let us know. That’s the beauty of it, after all.

Chris Brogan is co-founder of PodCamp, a free unconference about new media community tools. He keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com]

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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