Why do we always feel we need to be perfect? It’s so unrealistic. We know that, but there’s always something about ourselves that we feel detracts from our appearance and diminishes our authority.
Maybe you feel that way, because you’ve gained a few extra pounds, or are height-challenged (a euphemism for short). But you’ve got to get over it if you’re making a presentation or pitching a new client.
Don’t Put Yourself Down
Lack of perfection won’t hold you back. When you’re self-confident your weight or height, or a sudden mishap during your presentation, will not get in the way of your success.
Use humor to put yourself and your audience at ease. Sam Smith, winner of four Grammy awards, said when accepting one of his awards, “I came into the music business doing what other people thought I should do. I tried to lose weight and I made some really terrible music. The minute I started being myself, all this happens.”
If you’re self-conscious about your height, you could say, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to you. For those I’ve never met before you are probably thinking right now: ‘Wow, he’s short. How did he get where he is?’ Let me tell you it wasn’t easy earning all those degrees.”
Too Short. . .Too Thin
If you’re short – or way above average height – remember that clothes can make the person. Make sure your sleeves are the appropriate length and not hanging below your fingers or riding half way up your arms.
An executive can actually appear taller or thinner when dressed in well-tailored clothes, shoes and accessories. Pants suits can lengthen a woman’s line and look.
A business colleague recently got married. Rather than hide her shortness she flaunted it by wearing sky blue platform shoes with stiletto heels.
Many men are exceedingly self-conscious about their baldness. If you feel better in a hair piece that’s fine but buy one that’s custom fitted and not bought off the rack.
Matt Lauer, former co-host of the Today Show, decided to get a jump on his thinning hair back in 2002 by shaving his head. It caused quite a public fuss, but as he said then, “I’ve always believed the best defense is a good offense, so I’m just trying to beat Mother Nature to the punch.”
Then there are those embarrassing moments that no amount of advance planning can prevent. At an industry conference a speaker we know started to walk up the stairs to reach the stage and she tripped when her high heel caught in the hem of her pants.
She quickly recovered but never acknowledged what happened. But the audience felt for her and wanted to know she was all right. She could have injected some humor into the situation by saying with a smile, “Well, how did you like my grabber?”
One of the speakers at a medical conference on pain management was in a wheel chair. He should have started his talk by describing how a spinal cord injury changed his life. He didn’t do that so everyone in the audience was wondering about his personal story and not focusing on his remarks.
It’s not the end of the world if you forget your reading glasses. Make light of it and borrow a pair from a member of the audience. You can have some fun with it by trying on several different pairs and asking everyone to vote for their favorite.
It wasn’t funny, though, when an insurance executive lost his wallet just before a media interview. He was noticeably upset. He acknowledged it by saying, “I lost my wallet this morning so please excuse me if I seem a little off balance.” He didn’t do a stellar job in the interview, but at least the reporter understood the reason why.
Things go wrong but you have to keep going and carry on. If you’re personable and engage the audience, they will like you and listen. They won’t care if you’re short or tall, or fat and bald.
Believe in yourself. No one is perfect. If you project an air of confidence that you’re the smartest person in the room, people will perceive that you really are.