Never Spotlight Your Blunders and Mistakes Again
The biggest moment for most people when it comes to their body language in the workplace is when they screw up. We are all humans, we all make mistakes, and it is natural to feel embarrassed. The problem when you are giving a talk, speech, presentation, or briefing on a serious business matter to people you don’t know is that if you end up showing an elaborate reaction of feeling awkward or embarrassed is that it will end up being the most memorable and emotional part of the presentation.
It may generate a wave of sympathy from your audience, but that is not the ultimate emotion that you want to draw out from them. I make mistakes while giving speeches and making videos as well. I try to rectify my mistake but what I do not do is get flustered and embarrassed and highlight these emotions in front of the people I am speaking to. It is generally not the mistakes themselves that cause people trouble but their reaction to their mistakes.
Those of you who follow United States politics may remember that a couple of political seasons ago, a governor from Texas was running for president and he was the front runner at the time. He was asked a question about what government agencies he would cut and as he began to name the four organizations, he forgot the name of the last one and spent a solid few minutes trying to remember, making the moment awkward and solidifying a negative impression in the eyes of his viewers. He went from being first to begin dead last. It was not horrible because he forgot or made a mistake- it was this terrible because of his body language,m his voice, and his sense of being incredibly embarrassed. It was such a powerful moment that it became the only thing anyone could remember about him.
In contrast to that, four years later, another politician ran from Texas. He was asked the same question and as he listed the four organizations that he would cut down, he repeated one, listed three instead, and moved on like he had just given the best answer in the world. No one even noticed that he had only mentioned three organizations in place of four until a day after when no one was going to form a negative impression of him based on that interview. It did not hurt his campaign at all and he ended up coming in second place.
So the real lesson here is not that you have to be perfect all the time or that you cannot make a single mistake. The real body language take home message is that if you are giving a speech or presentation in front of a crowd that you do not see everyday and end up making a mistake, do not beat yourself up about it and act embarrassed in front of your audience. Just keep going and most people won’t even remember. If they do remember, it won’t be the most dominant memory.
Remember: it’s not your mistake but your voice and body language’s reaction to them that gets you into trouble when speaking in front of a crowd. Learn how to control that and your mistakes really will not cut or harm you.
Making Sure Your Clothes Are Communicating Your Positive Story
A part of your body language in the workplace is what you are wearing and how you present yourself and it varies from industry to industry. If you are a modern artist, then you do not want to be wearing a conservative and boring suit and tie. If you work in a super conservative and professional mutual fund where everyone else wears suits and ties, then you probably do not want to show up in a Hawaiian shirt and some shorts. A lot of this simply comes down to common sense but a tremendous number of people violate it.
The main thing you’re looking for is that are you dressed in a way that is consistent with what someone might expect you to be dressed as considering your job position. If you are confusing people with the way you present yourself, then that is generally a bad thing. I am not telling you to dress like me or anyone else for that matter. But there should be a purpose to the way you dress so that it helps to advance your career and what you are all about.
I used to film my videos in a suit and tie previously because that is the attire I typically wore when I was in the studio giving training to executives and other individuals. But then I realized that over here on YouTube, this is a much more intimate environment. The people watching me are probably wearing casual attire and are placed in casual settings. That is why I got a “not too” shirt for filming videos. This shirt is not too formal, not too distracting, not too dark or light, and no one is really bothered by it. I have worn ties before that people have commented were too ugly or clashed and pixelated on video.
If you are doing video, remember that simpler is better. Avoiding solid colors, avoiding white clothing, and avoiding stripes and patterns should be part of a general rule of thumb. But if you are getting dressed for work and not to appear on camera, then you need to dress by the typical standards of the dress code of the workplace. You might not care about clothes, but a lot of people do so you have to pay attention to how you present yourself.
So you have to find something that either accentuates what you are about or doesn’t get in the way. You have to figure out what works for you because your attire and appearance sends a message to your clients and customers about who you are and how you want to be perceived.