You’ve got an interview for your dream job next week and you’re nervous as all get out. You want to look polished, but not phony. Relaxed, but not careless. What do you do?
Well, my guest on today’s podcast makes her living coaching high level executives and other media personalities in exactly those types of situations. Her name is Frances Cole Jones and she’s an image and media consultant as well as the author of the book How to Wow: Proven Strategies For Selling Your [Brilliant] Self in Any Situation. In today’s episode, Frances and I discuss some brass tacks advice on how to put your best foot forward in work and in life. Get your pen and notebook ready. You’ll want to take notes.
- How what you say has significantly less influence than how you say it
- What we can do with our body language, voice tone, and clothing to have more influence on others
- The most influential words you can say
- One little trick to make your phone calls more warm and engaging
- How to eliminate “ums” and “uhs”
- Why you should think in stories
- How to non-awkwardly correct someone
- How to prepare for informal coffee and lunch meetings
- How to answer really hard questions in job interviews
- The best way to introduce yourself at a networking event
- And much more!
How to Wow is chock full of practical, actionable tips on how to put your best foot forward in any situation. No matter what social situation you’ll find yourself in, How to Wow will have some great pieces of advice for you. Pick up a copy today. And be sure to visit Frances’ site where you can find more great content as well as ask her directly for advice.
Tweet Frances’ “Thanks” for being on the podcast.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Listen to the episode on a separate page.
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness Podcast. I know a lot of people think it’s superficial, particularly guys, but the way we present ourselves to the world affects the influence that we have on others, not just the words that we say, but things like our body language, the clothes that we wear, the tone of our voice, all work together, and personal influence. With that in mind, I mean it would be in our interest to just put our best foot forward and present our best selves to the people we interact with for business pitches, speeches, lunch meetings, et cetera. We want to make sure that the message we have actually gets across to people, because people give us a chance because we’re presenting ourselves in the best way possible.
My guest today, that’s what she does for a living. She teaches and coaches executives, media personalities on how to put their best foot forward, so that they’re more influential. Her name is Frances Cole Jones. She’s the author of the book How to Wow. Today on the podcast, we’re going to talk about a bunch of tips, tactics, things you can do to present your best self to the world, so you can be more influential in speeches, business meetings, job interviews, even first dates, right? Without further ado, Frances Cole Jones and How to Wow.
Frances Cole Jones, welcome to the show.
Frances Cole Jones: Thank you so much.
Brett McKay: You’ve written a lot of books, content about self presentation, public speaking, persuasion. Before we get into some of the things you’ve written about in your book, one of them we’re going to talk about today is How to Wow, which I absolutely love, let’s talk a bit about your career and what you do. It’s interesting. I’m trying to figure out how to describe what you do, your job description. How would you describe what you do as far as consulting and teaching people how to present their best selves?
Frances Cole Jones: It really depends on the day, but that is it in a nutshell. It’s presenting your best self no matter what the situation. Some of my clients are going on television, and they’re talking about whatever it is that they’re talking about, their product or their stock price. Some of my clients are people who are trying to get back into the workforce after having been out of the workforce for a few years. It really depends. Every day is different, but what’s really nice is that the principles are always the same. No matter who you are, or what you’re doing, you can use this information.
Brett McKay: Got you. How do you answer the question … I’m a big believer in presenting your best self, and I’m sure there’s some naysayers out there, who are saying this is all inauthentic. It’s phony. You should just be yourself. All these tactics that you should do, like you shouldn’t really worry about it. How do you respond to people who make this sort of argument?
Frances Cole Jones: I absolutely want you to be authentic. If you’re not, of course people are going to pick up on that, but I think that even the naysayers will agree that they have days when they feel super articulate and powerful, and then they have days where they have trouble stringing a sentence together. My goal is really that you would have a few tools on the days when perhaps you’re not your best self, that you can pull this out, and say, “Okay. I know that this is more helpful.” I think it’s really the verbal equivalent, in many case, of just putting on a clean shirt.
Brett McKay: I like that. I like that example. Great analogy. You don’t want to go into any type of presentation with mustard or ketchup on your shirt.
Frances Cole Jones: No. You know, just spruce yourself up a little bit.
Brett McKay: Okay. In your book, How to Wow, you start off the book talking about the three elements of influence in face to face contact. What are those three elements and what’s their respective amount of importance in overall persuasion and presentation to other people?
Frances Cole Jones: Well there’s some controversy around this study. Nonetheless, I love it. It comes out of UCLA. They said that there are three components to your message, verbal, vocal, and visual. The people actually only remember about 7% of what you said. 38% of your impact is your tonal quality. 55% is what your body’s doing while you’re speaking.
With that in mind, what I do is okay, let’s make what you’re going to be saying as memorable as possible. That’s organize your tonality and your physicality, so that nothing detracts what you’re trying to get done.
Brett McKay: Got you. With that in mind, what are things we can do with your tonality, and our body language, to improve our influence on other people?
Frances Cole Jones: Well in terms of tonality, you know one of the easiest things that I’m doing right now is stand when you’re speaking. If it’s an important phone call, stand when you’re talking. You’re automatically going to have so much more energy and animation in your voice. The other thing that I love is do important phone calls while you’re looking in a mirror, because it’s impossible to look at yourself in the mirror and not amuse yourself, right? You’re going to smile at yourself, and you’re so funny, and you’re so charming. Your voice is going to follow along with all of that.
Brett McKay: Those are some great tips, because I have a problem with phone calls, personally. I don’t know. I’ve always treated phone calls like it’s a medium of communication. Just say what you got to say and get it done. My wife’s always reminding me, “You need to smile when you’re talking, and don’t have just this grouch face on you, because it reflects in your voice.” You don’t think it would, but it does.
Frances Cole Jones: It does. I mean, I really do recommend for a lot of my clients, not because they’re all indescribably narcissistic, but because it’s helpful to have a mirror in your office. If it’s an important call, shut the door and talk to the mirror.
Brett McKay:Okay, so yeah, this is great if you’re doing a job interview on the phone. Stand up and look in the mirror.
Frances Cole Jones: Yeah. The other thing’s in terms of physicality that you can do. It’s a very small thing, but it’s powerful. We trust you when we can see your hands and we don’t trust you when we can’t, which is why one of the first things they say to the alleged criminal is, “Put your hands where I can see them.” If you’re sitting, again, in a meeting where you’re asking for money, or if you’re in a job interview and you wish to appear trustworthy, just keep your hands on the table.
Brett McKay: What about just talking, just daily interactions, whether your at a cocktail party, a networking event, a date, what are things that you can do with your body language to put your best foot forward and maybe make people feel more comfortable and at ease around you?
Frances Cole Jones: You know, it’s a really seemingly small thing, but how many times have you met somebody at anything and they say, “I’m really happy to meet you.” Right? I’m like, “You don’t sound happy.” You haven’t even gotten through how do you do, and you’ve already come across this instance here. Really and truly, when you meet somebody, take that time and connect. If you’re going to say you’re happy about something, please sound happy about it.
Brett McKay: Got you. Here’s a question I have. Maybe you have the answer to this. I think you do. Whenever I’m doing public speaking or I’m in a meeting, I’m doing a presentation, I never know what to do with my hands, right? Shall I keep them in front of me? Should I move them around a lot? Gesticulate? Try to hold something? If I’m at a party, like what do I do with my hands if I don’t have a drink? I’m probably being overly self conscious, but there’s probably some things you can do to ease that amount of self consciousness, right?
Frances Cole Jones: Yes. What it is is you just want to get really committed to what it is that you are talking about. I mean, if you’re completely caught up in the story that you’re telling, you’re not thinking about your hands. It’s the same way a lot of people hire me to get rid of the umms and things like that in their speech. The same thing will happen. If you’re totally committed to what you’re saying, those drop away naturally. I guess what I would say is think less about your hands and more, again, just about really connecting both to the person or the audience that you’re speaking to, and to what it is that you’re saying. Then again, it’s just effortless. It drops away.
Brett McKay: Got you.
Frances Cole Jones: I’m sure if you’re talking to a wife and you’re telling a story about something that’s made you crazy, “And then this happened, and then that happened, and then …” You are not thinking about what your hands are doing.
Brett McKay: No, I’m not.
Frances Cole Jones: You want to get that committed.
Brett McKay: So that’s the key. It seems like storytelling is a key in your communication.
Frances Cole Jones: Storytelling is critical. Storytelling keeps you away from what’s known in my business as useless modifiers. Like you know, “It’s great. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. It’s awesome.” Nothing happens in my brain when you say that. Are you talking about your cellphone? Are you talking about your sandwich? Nothing. If you tell me a story about why something is, then automatically, it’s more memorable and more interesting.
Again, this works if I have a client who’s talking about their product, or if you’re in a job interview. A common job interview question is tell me about your greatest strength. Nobody’s going to remember, “Oh, I’m just a really great leader. I’m just a really awesome leader. I really love to lead.” Nothing. No. It has to be, “There was this time, and this occurred. This was the situation. This is how I took charge of it. This was the outcome. Yay for me.” That’s a story that your listener can repeat. You really, you just have to have … I don’t want them to be long. Please don’t make them long. Very short, but stories will help you.
Brett McKay: Okay, so yeah. You don’t even use stories for job things, but also like have some stories lined up that you can tell in just casual social encounters as well.
Frances Cole Jones: Absolutely. One of my things is if you’re in a casual, social … A lot of times people will introduce … You’ll introduce two people and you’ll say, “Oh my god. You guys are going to love each other.” Okay, now the two people are just looking at you like they have nowhere to go with that. Right? Because maybe they’re not feeling it. They’re not feeling the love.
But if you say, “This is so and so. He and I met when X occurred. This is so and so. She and I met when Y occurred. Both of you did the following.” Now they have common ground. It’s just a much better way to make an introduction.
Brett McKay: Okay. You kind of hit on this a little bit about the words we say. According to the US UCLA study, 7% of what we say contributes to overall persuasion, but there are some things we should avoid saying. You mentioned the umms and the uhhs. Try to reduce that. Then we talked about these useless modifiers. If those are words we should avoid to be persuasive, what are some words we should include to build rapport and be more persuasive with the people we interact with?
Frances Cole Jones: Well Yale University did a study of the 12 most persuasive words in the English language. The most persuasive word in the English language is you. The more the you can, when you’re talking to people, be like, “Yes, I’m sure you know. As I’m sure you’ve heard. When I was talking about you today.” Just putting everything in that context, because at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter who you are.
It is part of my job to tell people who think they’re incredibly important that no one cares about them. Nobody cares about you. What they care about is themselves and how you are going to make their life better. If you’re walking in and saying, “I wanted to talk to you today, blah-blah, because this and this and this,” then all of a sudden people’s ears, you know, they perk up.
The other study that I talk about a lot is Ellen Langer, the social psychologist out of Harvard, did a study that showed that there’s one word that increases the possibility of cooperation from 60 to 94%. That word is because. “I wanted to talk to you today, because …” Giving people, again, the because behind any request that you’re making. “Why are you making me sit through this?” You need to articulate that.
Brett McKay: I think I’ve seen that study about because. It was kind of bizarre, because the experiment was, if I’m correct, if I’m remembering correctly, it was they asked someone to cut in front of a copy line, like get in the front and say … The one person said, “I need to kind of cut in front of you.” Everyone said, “No. Of course you can’t. Wait in line.” If people just said because and like some random reason, it didn’t even need to be connected to anything, people complied. Like you say, “I need to cut in front of you because I have to make tea in five minutes.” People are like, “Okay.”
Frances Cole Jones: Again, I tell my clients, if someone cuts the line at the grocery story, you’re pissed off, but if they say, “Do you mind if I cut the line, because I’m late to pick up my kids at school?” You’re going to let the line cut go. You’ll still be pissed about it, but you’ll let it go. Yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah, have a reason. Use you …
Frances Cole Jones: Yeah, you and because are very important.
Brett McKay: I think one thing that people often feel self conscious about is introducing themselves, whether it’s their first day at the job, or at a networking event, or a conference. What’s the best way to introduce yourself that will leave a lasting impression yet at the same doesn’t feel like the stereotypical elevator pitch, where it sounds like you memorized this and you’re just trying to get your pitch in to me? How can you introduce yourself but be more memorable?
Frances Cole Jones: Again, it’s about telling a story about why is what you’re talking about going to make the other person’s life better. If I were to say to you, “Oh my god. I have the most amazing book. It’s just such a wonderful book. I wrote it. It took me this amount of months to write it. My agent said this about it. My nanny said this about it.” You’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t care.” Right?
If I say to you, “You know what? I wrote a book and I know that right now, you have a new business. Part of the work of your new business is finding new clients. What I’m hoping is that I have a few techniques up my sleeve that might be useful to you. I wrote them down in a book.” You want to backend it with what’s important to you, and you want to front load it with why the other person should care.
Brett McKay: En-couched in a story. It sounds like you’re telling a story.
Frances Cole Jones: Yes, and the story is about the person you’re talking to. The story is not about yourself.
Brett McKay: Yeah, you have this great line. I’ve been thinking about it more and more is that everyone’s a hero in their own world.
Frances Cole Jones: Right.
Brett McKay: Right, and so you’ve got to think about that when you’re talking to people. It’s like let them try to figure out how is what I have to offer going to help them advance in their own hero’s journey.
Frances Cole Jones: Right. I actually pulled that from Mike Myers, during an Inside the Actor’s Studio interview. He said every villain is the hero of his own story. Even if what someone is doing is completely incomprehensible to you, if you can just try to figure out, okay, as crazy as it seems, they think they’re on the side of right and order. Speak into that a little bit.
Brett McKay: Yeah, that’s a good reminder, because I often think, I did this too, when someone does something just absolutely nuts, you think, well they’re just doing this because they know it’s wrong, but they’re still doing it.
Frances Cole Jones: Right.
Brett McKay: But no, they think what they’re absolutely doing is right, correct, et cetera.
Frances Cole Jones: Yes.
Brett McKay: Well this leads to another question. How do you un-awkwardly correct people. They might be wrong. They may have misspoken or they’re doing something that might be incorrect. This probably comes up at work all the time. Someone doesn’t follow protocol or they’re just being unintentionally annoying or whatever. How can you un-awkwardly correct them without making hard feelings, I think?
Frances Cole Jones: I think the first thing to do is double check your own hearing and your own perception. That’s a really easy way to do it. If somebody says something preposterous, you just say, “Okay, hang on a sec. I just want to make sure that I’m understanding you correctly. What I thought I heard you say is X.” Sometimes, when they hear you say it out loud, they realize that’s not right. That’s an easy way to do it. Not like, “No. No. You misunderstood me.”
If you say it again, and they say, “Oh, yes. That’s exactly what I want you to do.” You want to take the onus on yourself. You want to say, “Okay, so I’m going to … It sounds like a little bit like I’m quibbling with you, but it was my understanding that the goal today was X. I’m unclear on how this is going to help us accomplish that.” Again, it’s not because you’re difficult or argumentative, you’re just confused. You’re trying to arrive at a solution.
Just to keep circling back and try to get the other person, if they can, to dig a little bit deeper into, “Okay, but what is the intention for the day?” Sometimes people do have the same goal, they just have very, very different ways of getting there.
Another simple, incredibly useful question is if someone’s doing something that just makes your head explode, before you correct them, you can say, “Can you tell me why you’re doing it that way?” They might have a reason that you haven’t thought of. That’s yay. Or they might not understand what it is you’re trying to achieve. You’ve at least honored their process by inquiring first if they have a process. Does that make sense?
Brett McKay: Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense. Actually, after I read that, that could’ve come in handy before. A couple of weeks ago, one of my editors who works for me, and he did something, and I just completely, I was like, “Why did he do that?” I didn’t ask him that. I was just like, “That’s wrong. You do it this way.” He, very tactfully, responded, you know, “This is why I did it.” He explained what his reasoning was. It was completely valid. I was like, “That makes perfect sense.” I think I could’ve avoided that whole awkwardness. It’s kind of awkward. Not too awkward. We’re over it now. We’re not holding grudges. But if I just said, “Can you tell me why you did it this way?”
Frances Cole Jones: Right.
Brett McKay: That would’ve solved a lot of this.
Frances Cole Jones: The other thing that I like people to keep in their back pocket is what I refer to as the Apollo 13 theory, which is if you’ve seen the movie, one of the first questions that’s asked after they’ve realized that something has occurred is, okay, what’s working? What do we got to work with? What do I like?
If someone is doing something and you need it to change, very often if you begin with, “All right, so here’s what I love about what’s happened in the past. You do this really well. You do that really well. I love this. This is great. Here’s one thing that’s going to need to change.” Because again, you’ve front loaded it with all the things that are working and that make you happy, they can hear your request very differently.
Brett McKay: Got you. This sounds very similar to the improvisation rule of “Yes, and … ”
Frances Cole Jones: “Yes, and … ” Yes. I love that. Everybody should go take an improvisation class even if it’s like the most hideously awkward hour or two of your life. You’re going to work out with so much good information.
Brett McKay: Yeah, I want to do it. Every time I read about improvisation, I need to do that, but I never follow through.
Frances Cole Jones: It’s really … Again, not something I loved, but I’m glad I put myself through it.
Brett McKay: Yeah, so with the “Yes, and … ” rule, for those who aren’t familiar with it, in improvisation, instead of denying what someone’s done. Where you’re like, “I’m not going to follow along with this.” You take what they’ve done and you add your own spin to it.
Frances Cole Jones: That’s also very helpful. It’s something that I want people to think about. If you’re in a meeting with a fellow team member and he or she says something that is somehow not exactly correct, and you don’t want to be seen as contradicting them or arguing with them because you’re presenting to other people. If you could say, if I could add to what Joe just said, and even if what you say directly contradicts what Joe just said, energetically, it comes across for other people as if you and Joe are one big happy family.
Brett McKay: There you go. Well on a related topic, similar to awkward conversations, but how are you supposed to handle … What’s the best way? I’m sure you deal with this all the time, because you’re prepping people for television appearances. This can happen to people in job interviews. How do you deal with awkward questions, tough questions that if you answer in a certain way, it’s going to come off really, really bad. How do you deal with those really hard questions like that?
Frances Cole Jones: The first thing to do is you … Okay, before any meeting or job interview, you have to consider what are the worst three questions I’m going to get. All right? If everything goes down the tubes, you’ve got to think through those three questions.
What I always tell my clients is hope is not a strategy. Right? It’s not like, “Oh, god. I hope that doesn’t come up.” It’s coming up. Think them through ahead of time then when you get the hideously awkward question, what happens is that sometimes we’re so nervous, that we jump into answering it without taking a breath.
Inhale and speak on an exhalation. Speaking on an exhalation automatically gives your voice so much more resonance and authority. If you ask me something hideous and I go, “Well and … ” All of a sudden, I sound a little crazy. If I pause, and I say, “Well … ” Now all of a sudden, I seem like I’m in control.
Then the other thing is that I recommend, if someone asks you something, and your mind goes blank, to just say I’d like to think about that for a second, because I want to be sure to give you the best answer possible. Nobody leaves a meeting or a job interview thinking, “Ugh, I can’t believe that guy that wanted to give me the best answer possible! What a jerk!” You know? That’s your out. Take that moment and think about it, but take your time.
Brett McKay: Take your time. Don’t get flustered.
Frances Cole Jones: Yeah.
Brett McKay: Yeah, related to the job interview, one of the tough questions that often comes up for folks is say for example they’ve been out of work for a while. Maybe they’ve jumped jobs several times. That always raises red flags for potential employers. How do you answer those questions when they do come up about employment history?
Frances Cole Jones: Well there are a couple of things. If you sit down with your interviewer and very often, they’ll say to you, “Okay, well where shall we start?” My recommendation is if you have a resume that’s a little bit quirky, then you say, “You know what? I think that if you look at my resume, you’ll see that I’ve moved around in the past few years, so why don’t we start there?”
Brett McKay: Take control of it and go there?
Frances Cole Jones: Oh yeah. You’ve got to be on offense rather than on defense, okay?
Brett McKay: Okay.
Frances Cole Jones: Right there it doesn’t matter what you do after that. Your interviewer’s like, “Wow. Hang on. This guy’s got nerves of steel.” Then from there, you want to have actually a pretty good story about what happened. Maybe you jumped around because you wanted to be challenged. The jobs you had in the past weren’t asking you to grow. That’s one way to tell that story. Maybe you were downsized. That certainly occurs. What you talk about at that point is, “I used the time to brush up on skill sets that I’m going to need once you hire me.”
There always is a way to talk about your past, and it’s about you sounding confident with the way you’re going to talk about it, and you feeling in control of that story. What I always tell people is if you can’t figure it out, honestly, just give me a call, and I will figure it out, because I’m really good at this. Yeah.
Brett McKay: I guess you never want to say, “I jumped jobs because all my bosses were jerks.” That probably would not have been –
Frances Cole Jones: No!
Brett McKay: Okay.
Frances Cole Jones: No. No. No. No. No. You were challenged because you really wanted to … You had X skillset and you didn’t feel it was being utilized. By the way, I noticed that something that you require at this new job, for which I am now interviewing, so you just present that as this is a gift with purchase that’s going to make me even more desirable to you. You can never, ever, ever, ever bad mouth your past employer.
Brett McKay: Okay.
Frances Cole Jones: It’s like going on a date and hearing them bitch about their … Oh, I’m sorry.
Brett McKay: You can say that. We’re not on the public airways.
Frances Cole Jones: Hearing them speak badly about their last relationship. You’re the only one who ends up sounding not great.
Brett McKay: They’re probably thinking in their heads like it’s probably … It’s not the boss. It’s like this person’s absolutely …
Frances Cole Jones: Right.
Brett McKay: Not the problem. Okay. Well anything else that people can do to prep for a job interview so they really wow the interviewer? So yeah, come up with those three questions that are really difficult. Prep for them. What else should they do to prep for their job interview?
Frances Cole Jones: A couple of things. You need to be aware of the trick questions or the trick statements. One of those, it seems so innocuous, is, “So tell me about yourself.”
Brett McKay: I hate that question.
Frances Cole Jones: Right?
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Frances Cole Jones: This is not an opportunity to talk about yourself. All right, no one wants to know like, “I’m the youngest of six and I grew up in Rhode Island.” No. No. No. No. No. All right, this is about your job description states that you’re looking for somebody who can do X. Not only can I do X, but I can also do Y and Z. Again, this is about how you are going to add value once you’re hired. That’s the answer to that one.
Brett McKay: Okay.
Frances Cole Jones: The thing I’m warning people about right now is a lot of HR people are stopping interviews halfway through and saying to the interviewee, “You know what? I just don’t think you’re the right fit for this job.”
Brett McKay: Wow.
Frances Cole Jones: Whether they think so or not, they’re doing this. They’re doing it to see how you handle pressure and if you crack. What the HR people are telling me is it’s amazing how many people will say at that moment, “Well I didn’t really think I was a good fit, but I just thought I’d come in.” Okay, no.
You really need to, if somebody says that, be like, “Well oh. Okay. You know what? I guess I’m not making it clear how passionate I am about getting this position. Let me take you through my thinking one more time.” But yeah. There’s another number of pitfalls that people should be aware of right now.
The other thing I heard from a guy who hires all the time for sales jobs is he doesn’t call you back until you called him three times, because if you can’t take rejection in the interview process, you’re not going to do well as a salesperson.
Brett McKay: Wow.
Frances Cole Jones: So yeah.
Brett McKay: This is like some crazy like mind, psychological …
Frances Cole Jones: So much mind stuff.
Brett McKay: Mind stuff going on. All right, so keep that in mind. Don’t crack and don’t succumb to the pressure. Okay. Great stuff. Let’s shift back to presenting yourself. You had a section on clothing. I know clothes don’t make the man, right? But they do play a part on how persuasive and influential we are. What should people be aware of on how they should change their wardrobe, maybe, or what they wear, depending on the audience that they’re presenting to?
Frances Cole Jones: I think that’s the critical piece is you really need to think about the audience you’re speaking to. You know, I completely costume change, depending on who my client is. Some of my clients really need to see me in a suit and high heels, with a pocket book that costs as much as a used car. That makes them feel so much better.
Then some of my clients, that makes them feel very tense. They think that all the money that they pay me is going to subsidize my wardrobe. I have to do these kind of Superman changes as I move through the day. It’s thinking through who it is that you’re talking to, what is their value, what are their values, and how can you read, visually, as though you’re already a member of the team.
Just as a general rule of thumb, blue is the color that we trust the most and it photographs best. I have a lot of clothes in different shades of blue. Of those, that kind of a cornflower or a french blue is the one that really, really looks well. Again, traffic court or television, it’s going to serve you well.
Then really thanks to all the different kinds of ability to videotape yourself ahead of time, if it’s an important meeting, take a picture of yourself, and take a look at what you look like, because sometimes, you just have no idea. Get that organized.
I always preferred tailored things. I think people are rarely upset if you’re overdressed. They’re somewhat upset if you’re under dressed.
Brett McKay: Yeah, and the tailored clothing, particularly for men, a well tailored suit will really accentuate features that, I don’t know, exude dominance and a powerful. I’m not talking about in a mean way, but like …
Frances Cole Jones: Well it shows an attention to detail.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Frances Cole Jones: If you come in and you look like you slept in your clothes, that’s disquieting to the people that are sitting across from you. I think even for women as well. I have one client who is a financial wizard and that’s great, but she kept going on TV wearing a scooped neck T-shirt underneath her blazer, but on television, it looked like she was wearing a leotard. No one wants to take financial advice from someone wearing a leotard. We had to get that organized. Yeah.
Brett McKay: There’s that commercial I’ve seen about the power of how you present yourself. It’s like for a personal investment commercial where they take this DJ that had dreadlocks and he had goggles. He’s wearing the typical DJ outfit. They cleaned him up, put a suit on, and people … He knew nothing about investments, but he sat down with people who were interested in investing and he gave the presentation, and people were like, “Oh yeah. I really trust this guy.” It was just because he put on a suit and he got a hair cut.
Frances Cole Jones: It’s an astonishing thing. A lot of people will say, “Well that’s so sad and that’s awful. You’re asking me not to be my authentic self.” You know what I always say is you can be yourself. You can let your freak flag fly once you have the job, or once you’ve made the deal. At the moment, let’s stay focused on the objective. Get the job. Sign the deal. Then you can do what it is that you want or need to do express your authentic self.
Brett McKay: Yeah. I like that. This day and age, I get this request a lot and I’ve done it to before is requesting to meet people for coffee or for lunch to either do an informational interview or even maybe make a pitch. What can people do to make these … They’re informal. They seem very informal, because it’s just you’re going to get coffee, but you make the case that you should do a lot of prep work even for these very informal meetings. What can people do to make coffee meetings or lunch meetings more effective?
Frances Cole Jones: You’re never off duty. Yes, don’t be fooled by thinking, “It’s just coffee,” or, “It’s just lunch.” No. No. No. No. No. No. Frankly, honestly, if you want to get someone’s attention and get in to see them, I never suggest coffee or lunch.
The first thing I say is, “Can I come in for 15 minutes at the beginning or end of your day?” The minute you put an estimated running time on it of 15 minutes, the person’s like, “Oh okay. That doesn’t sound too onerous.” But if you say to somebody, “Let me take you out for lunch,” and they’re busy, now that just sounds existing, and like, “It’s going to suck away my afternoon.” Honestly, you’ll get in to see people a lot more quickly. Frankly, they’re going to let you talk longer than 15 minutes, but that’s honestly my first way to get past a gatekeeper.
If you are in a social situation, if you are having coffee or lunch with someone, we all know at this point, that you’re not supposed to pick up your handheld device during the course of what’s occurring. Although, you’d be surprised how many people do. My rule of thumb is you are presenting from three blocks away. You simply don’t know if the other person is watching you.
I’ve had people tell me, a CEO tell me, that he was sitting in his office. He looked out the window. He watched a woman get out of her car, brush her hair in the parking lot, and then proceed into the meeting. He thought, I can’t hire her because I can’t have her representing my company if she does her personal grooming in a public place. That’s rule one is you’re presenting from three blocks away or three miles away or from the time you step out of your car.
After that, it’s really just a matter of following those kind of kooky rules of etiquette that your mother and father maybe brought up once or twice over the dinner table, you know? Napkin in your lap. Sit up straight. Say please and thank you. Let the other person order first. You know?
My own personal rule of thumb is don’t order food that’s difficult to manage. You know? Nobody wants to see you play cats cradle with the cheese on the onion soup. That makes people tense. Pick things that you are going to be able to focus on the conversation.
The other thing that I’m a little bit uptight about is unless you’re eating habits are the focus of the meal, like don’t talk about your paleo. Don’t talk about your sugar fears. Don’t talk about your gluten intolerance. No. No. No. No. No. No. Let the other person talk about it all they want.
Brett McKay: People like bringing that stuff up.
Frances Cole Jones: It’s amazing how many people. Yes.
Brett McKay: That’s like an old joke. How do you know if someone’s a paleo guy or vegan guy. It’s like they’ll tell you.
Frances Cole Jones: Yeah. I believe that.
Brett McKay: I believe it. All right. Well let’s end on this question, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people who are listening to this. This is great. These are some great bits of advice, but what do I do if I’m shy? Right? I have a hard time asserting myself even in a job interview in the work place, or being socially engaging at a cocktail party. Any advice for people who have that social anxiety that just prevents them from even putting these tips into practice?
Frances Cole Jones: Again, it sounds incredibly simplistic slash mundane, but you really do have to pick three small top topics. You know, just anything to get the ball rolling. Say you’re walking into a networking event, you know, it’s as simple as saying to somebody, “Gosh, how did you hear about this organization?” Well now they get to talk about themselves for the next few minutes. They’re going to like you better, right? Figure out those kinds of things.
You know, with meetings, it’s the same thing, you really do have to pick three small top topics ahead of time, because you can have a great meeting or job interview, and then be standing by the elevator and just pick a topic out of thin air, and you’re a little bit tired and you can just watch the whole thing blow up in your face. You got to have that in your back pocket.
It’s as small as, “Gosh, do you recommend any restaurants around here? I’m thinking about going out for dinner afterward.” Again, give other people the chance to be the authority and give other people the chance to talk about themselves. They are going to like you without you having to do very much at all.
Brett McKay: Again, make it about the person.
Frances Cole Jones: Yeah.
Brett McKay: It takes the onus out of you. Fantastic. Well, Frances, this has been a great conversation. Where can people learn more about your work and what you do?
Frances Cole Jones: I have a website, which is my name, francescolejones.com. On the website, you know, there’s all kinds of information. I’ve written three books and I write a weekly blog, so come on over. Then the other thing that’s there is I’ve put an ask a question button on my site. Honestly, all the questions I get roll directly to my phone. I will respond.
If you have a meeting or a job interview or anything coming up, and you feel like I might be able to be helpful, please send me a note about it. This is what I love to do. I’m happy to get back to you and help you figure things out.
Brett McKay: That’s awesome. Well Frances Cole Jones, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
Frances Cole Jones: Thank you.
Brett McKay: My guest today was Frances Cole Jones. She’s the author of the book, How to Wow. You can find that on Amazon.com and bookstores everywhere. For more information about Frances’ work, go to francescolejones.com, all one word. Like she said, you can actually ask her a question about any aspect of personal influence on her site, so you can check that as well.
Well that wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art of Manliness website at artofmanliness.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, I’d really appreciate if you give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. Also tell all your friends about us. I’d really appreciate it.
As always, thank you for your support. Until the next time, this is Brett McKay, telling you to stay manly.