Whilst it is certainly a personal impact platitude, it is no less a fundamental truth: you are always having an impact. Wherever you are and whatever you do, this personal impact will always be eliciting an impression. Critical questions follow from this: are you conscious of this impact? Is this the impact you intended? Is your impact aiding or, in fact, impeding upon your desired outcomes?
A further, albiet more subtle truth, is that personal impact is actually inter-personal in nature - it occurs in our relationships with others. The ability for people to connect, face-to-face with others, in a comfortable, confident and impactful way is a skill that sets people apart in both personal and business relationships. As we retreat further and deeper behind a multitude of screens and virtual-one-step-removed communications, those who can skilfully harness the power of making the right personal impact are an increasingly rare and invaluable commodity, standing out from the crowd more than ever before.
The personal impact knowledge gap
Starting from a scientific background in school I transitioned to read law at Cambridge and then moved onto a magic circle law firm, yet at none of these stages, pedagogical or professional, was I offered tuition or training in communications. The ability to communicate with power, persuasion and potency was either assumed or considered unnecessary; both of which positions are patently absurd. It was only when I furthered my interest in acting by taking a 6 month 'acting for screen' course each weekend during my training contract, that I realised, notwithstanding all of my highly regarded tutelage, a key competency was starkly absent from my skillset. I had no framework upon which to base my communications and no conscious awareness of how my communications were translating in practice. I certainly hadn’t had exposure to a professional resource that could help me communicate with greater and more compelling impact. Having worked as a communications trainer with all levels, from law school students to partners, I was relieved to discover that this lacuna in learning wasn’t just a personal failing on my part but is actually quite common-place. The good news for us all is that this gap is pre-eminently possible to correct for, it doesn’t require you to take on someone else’s personality and moreover small focussed changes can lead to impressive results.
One word; authenticity
Every successful actor strives for three fundamental components as they work: to be relaxed, to be present and to be authentic. Of course, all an actor is trying to do is reveal the life of another human being and connect this person in a meaningful way to the audience. Therefore, I feel the goal of the actor aligns with the goal of anyone trying to communicate effectively; if one can relate to others authentically and from a place of presence they are well on the way to communicating their message with powerful personal impact.
Through the in-house training programme with PCA, communication and impact courses elsewhere and through the continued development of my craft as an actor (particularly using 'the Method') I have seen how simple ideas can be applied to equip individuals with a powerful tool-kit to maximise the effectiveness and impact of their communications.
Everyone is different and striving for different outcomes, but working with each individual it is possible to use techniques and strategies to give everyone the ability to have the impact they desire.
Guest blog written by PCA's Legal Experiential Practitioner, Richard Kirschke