How to keep your cool when speaking to VIPs 😎
Last year I had the chance to meet one of my heroes in leadership and management.
The opportunity had me feeling like my son’s toy lightning ball; I was pulsating with electricity, nerves, and excitement (heavy on the nerves!)
Has that ever happened to you before meeting a “big wig”?
It’s completely natural to feel nervous about meeting someone you particularly admire.
Chances are, you’re feeling nervous because you have a high opinion of them and you want to make a strong impression – this is a good thing!
You can use that energy to prepare, stay aware, and keep yourself on point.
But let’s be real, your nervous energy can also be your enemy.
Left uncontrolled, this powerful energy can prevent us from taking action and showing off the best parts of ourselves.
Meeting important people is an incredible opportunity to network, insert yourself into the professional circles you covet, and learn from someone who has mastered the skills you’re still refining.
People often ask me for advice on how to talk to important people in and outside of work.
After plenty of wins and fails, I’ve figured out how to channel that buzz of energy, make a good impression, and say exactly what I want to say.
Here’s how you can do it, too!
Embodied: Put yourself in the path of more opportunities with VIPs. Right now. I want you to look for at least 2 opportunities to get more exposure to VIPs or executives in the next month. Maybe this is a one-to-one interview, a casual career conversation over lunch, or a panel discussion you attend where a VIP is speaking. Maybe it involves following a VIP on social media and commenting on their posts. By simply gaining more exposure and interaction with these individuals, you will lessen the sense that you’re an outsider or have nothing to say. When you "up" the frequency of your interactions with VIPs, it tells your brain – “I regularly converse and interact with VIPs” and ultimately “I can do it in an assured and relaxed way."
Interpersonal: Speak peer to peer. Sometimes, we're so mindful of the power differential with a VIP, that we overfocus on hierarchy to the point of putting the other person on a pedestal. Now, humility and shows of respect are of course a good thing, but not when they creep into a place of putting yourself down. What helps is to make the shift from being deferential to approaching the relationship peer to peer. That signals that both people’s time is valuable, not that you’re a bother or a burden. Because, in fact, you’re a fellow collaborator! Make the switch in how you think about and carry yourself and your power will multiply.
Mindset: Stay in the moment. When you’re tense and anxious, does your mind ever get the message that it should jump ahead and troubleshoot all worrisome future scenarios? Ack! That can cause us to mentally make an exit, nodding and going through the motions in the very moment we want to be fresh and present! So, rather than letting your mind wander, give yourself license to focus on One. Thing. At a time. The message being imparted, the volley of ideas, whatever it may be. This is a lot easier when you accept things as they are. So tell yourself "I am here now. By being present, I’m creating, shaping, and influencing what happens next.”
What have you done to prepare for meeting a VIP? I would love to hear your tips for confidently speaking to the important people in your life! Let me know in the comments below.