If you lead a team or are a member of a team, take this quick test. Who has the most enthusiasm in the group? Then ask yourself this question: how do the team members view that person? Sure, there are those occasional overeager folks we deal with, but more often enthusiasm is one of the secret traits everyone looks for and feeds off, especially when you are involved in team projects. The best news is there is no age limit for who wins this distinction!
Recently I worked with a team hoping to win a job worth more than a billion dollars. As we went around the room and each person delivered their part of a presentation, two people really stood out – and it had to do with their enthusiasm. They smiled, joked and used more vocal variety than their colleagues. They engaged the room and seemed more comfortable in their own skin. They told better stories (or maybe we just wanted to listen a little more to them?) and they most consistently delivered their message, even during long practice sessions.
Their secret? I believe it is enthusiasm. Young or not-so-young, experienced or not, female or male, big title or not, enthusiasm speaks with its own language, cuts through differences and brings people together in a way few characteristics can. The best thing about this secret weapon is that you don’t need a special degree or license to use it. Most often, all you need is to care about the topic at hand and demonstrate a willingness to show it. If you are easily embarrassed or shy it may not come easily, but here are three quick ways to flip the enthusiasm switch:
What do your eyes say? Watch an actor who can perfect a bored character and you’ll see it instantly. Their eyes are dead. What are your eyes saying? Sometimes someone else needs to point it out, but always be aware of the importance of your eyes and make sure they are alive and full of energy.
What does your voice say? You can be very convinced of your message, but if your voice doesn’t show it you are sunk. People in conversation with you or in an audience are always judging, and one measure they use is does your voice tone match your message? If you are saying you are excited, but sound bored, don’t be surprised if the connection is quickly lost.
What does your mouth say? You might think I’m focused on the words here, but not so this time. Instead, are you smiling? If you have an enthusiastic message and you never smile your mouth is letting you down. It is my most often offered advice. Just smile and watch how the reaction changes.
As age issues become more a part of my world (I’ll turn 60 in 2017), I see enthusiasm as one way that levels the playing field for my colleagues. Young or not, showing energy and engagement will keep you in the game and keep those around you focused on the good you have to offer.
Follow along with Cary on Twitter @CaryPfeffer
Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.