115: Authenticity with Cara Hale Alter of Speechskills

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Adjectives that Describe You, Like You Describe You

Today’s guest a deep understanding of nonverbal communication and the perception of leadership presence. She’s worked extensively with lawyers and legal professionals, as they look to project the image of how they’d like to be perceived while remaining authentic.

Today’s guest Cara Hale Alter has a deep understanding of nonverbal communication and the perception of leadership presence. She’s worked extensively with lawyers and legal professionals, as they look to project the image of how they’d like to be perceived while remaining authentic.

Behaviors can lead to very predictable responses from others and lead others to your preferred assessment.   For lawyers and legal professionals, the behaviors that convey strength and leadership include strong posture, a strong voice with optimal volume, and eye contact.  Similar to other professionals, lawyers are often plagued with verbal fillers ‘umm, yes, and like’, and upward inflection ‘valley girl style’ at the end of a sentence.

While fillers can be easily replaced with pausing, coming to a complete stop at the end of a sentence; most people are uncomfortable with it.  Adults who came of age before or during the 80s, cascade down at the end of their sentences.   Others can credit “valley girls” with the lightweight style of upward inflection at the end of a sentence.  Removing upward inflection will go a long way in improving presence and credibility.

Do you keep your head still while your talking?  This alone is a very high-status behavior.  How about volume calibration issues?  If you get feedback that you need to speak up, doing so will increase your influence.   You can improve your physical presence by pointing your nose at the person your speaking with, and for video and video conferencing have your chin on the level with the camera not raised or down, and strong lighting will put your image in the best light.

Cara Hale Alter is the founder and president of SpeechSkills.  She is a sought after trainer and speaker working with a wide range of organizations including Facebook, Google, Caterpillar and numerous AM100 law firms including DLA Piper, Morgan Lewis, and White and Case.  She was a main session speaker at the 2018 CLOC Symposium.