Performance Tips: Highlight Your Soft Skills
Posted by Anni M.
“Soft skills” is such a buzz-phrase nowadays. It refers to that set of qualities that is difficult to quantify: honesty, integrity, diligence, focus, drive, conversation skills, interpersonal confidence, and social grace. We go through cycles of obsession over “new” skill sets in business. The new obsession with soft skills does make a certain kind of sense. With our online lives and traditional focus on test scores and grades, we may have put too little emphasis on interpersonal ability. But to read the business news it would appear that social competence has been newly invented, the creation of our modern economic and social mores. Of course, soft skills have always been valued in business. Consider the turn of the century when gentlemen sat together in smoking parlors exchanging quips, or the Mad Menesque world of the 1960s when professionals negotiated in bars and restaurants. I blame the Internet for our move away from soft skills. Remote communicating has certainly had multifaceted influences on the way we interact.
Regardless of the history, soft skills are clearly important. Without them, an employee has difficulty interacting and communicating. At the extreme end of the spectrum, he is introverted to the point of disability. Of course, there is a vast continuum and most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle, but improving our soft skill set is clearly a good idea—a way to begin impressing others with our smooth confidence, comfortable candor, and easy conversation. These skills translate remarkably well to the stage where interpersonal moxie takes the spotlight.
Improving your performance soft skills may in fact be easier than improving your everyday abilities. In a performance, you can rehearse, hone, and perfect. You can script your monologue to reflect your charm, humor, and affability. The best way to do this is to think of a performer you admire, someone with extreme likeability. Bob Hope or Jon Stewart are good inter-generational examples. Try to emulate their particular style of charm and wit. What is it about these performers that makes them so universally liked and respected? Partly, it’s their reputations. But those reputations exist for a reason.
First, both Stewart and Hope enjoy(ed) excellent writing. Second, they make (made) the most of sarcasm and humor to portray difficult topics in a digestible and charming light. Humor is an excellent soft skill. It is something most people can appreciate, even if they don’t share your opinions. In a presentation, humor is disarming. It gets the audience on your side. It also entertains them. When people are entertained, they are far more likely to remember your message and to speak fondly about your presentation after the fact.
As a Creative Communications Strategist, Victoria is known for her electrifying Keynote Performances™ and the transformational workshops and coaching sessions she creates for elite executives, high performing teams, thought leaders and entrepreneurs..