Presentation is both a simple issue to address and a difficult one. It is simple because many, though not all, issues of presentation can be fixed pretty easily. It is difficult however, because people do not like to talk about many of the issues that arise in presentation. People are often unsure of how to talk to someone about very personal things like hygiene and bad breath. The problem is that if no-one ever tells someone that they have a presentation issue, then they can’t deal with the problem. This can lead to difficulty getting or keeping work.
The Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis, a think tank that studies human behavior confirms that employers often comment on how candidates don’t spend enough time thinking about how they are coming across in interviews or later, if they get the job, how appearance affects them in the workplace. They confirm that “appearance is always a factor in primate hierarchy—how we approach others and think of them in our internal mind mapping of people and prestige…There are a number of human factors involved in people perception: age, gender, status, context, grooming, aesthetics, wardrobe, accessories. They all go to defining personal style and how people think they are being perceived.”
Of course there are some aspects of presentation that are very difficult. Employers can be biased against a potential employee because of the person’s weight, race, disability, attractiveness etc. While such discrimination is generally illegal, that does not mean it does not happen; it is all too easy for employers to find reasons for not to hiring someone. If you feel you are being unfairly discriminated against, raise this with your Coach who can advise you on how to proceed.
In this set of activities our goal is to help you look honestly at how you present yourself for work and what changes you can choose to make to enhance your chances of success. The value of the activities depends on your willingness to invest time and energy on thinking honestly about yourself. Your Coach believes in you and is there to support your move towards employment, but you need to believe in yourself too. That may or may not be easy at this stage, but thinking about yourself, and your strengths and weaknesses, will build your self-awareness. With self-awareness comes empowerment as you see the steps you can take to optimize your skills. So, take your time...think about yourself honestly...and be prepared to learn new things about yourself and your potential.
WHAT DO YOU THINK PRESENTATION IS?
WHAT DO YOU THINK PRESENTATION IS?
How you present yourself is critical because, fair or not, other people will make assumptions based on that presentation. They will see you, your style, and your behaviour before they have a chance to talk to you in any depth.
But what exactly is presentation? In the space below, write your own definition of presentation. If you need to, ask two or three people you know to define what presentation is, think about what they say, and then explain your own views. Try to be clear about the different elements of presentation:
Untitled open question
THE ESAT DEFINITION OF PRESENTATION
Untitled drag and drop text question
WHAT DOES PRESENTATION LOOK AND SOUND LIKE?
If you employed someone, what would you want their presentation to look like and sound like?
Untitled fill in the blanks question
ESAT provides a standard set of exemplars about presentation. Review the table below.
- use of swearing
- use of sexual innuendo
- unwilling to speak
- excessive speaking
- inappropriate sharing of personal details
- use of bigoted language
- inability to differentiate between formal and casual speech requirements
- poor grammar
- use of inappropriate slang
- overly loud or quiet speech
- confusion over formal vs. casual speech
- no swearing
- appropriate volume
- appropriate word choice and conversation skills
- awareness of when to use formal vs. casual speech
- rude behaviours such as pushing, not waiting turn, carelessness
- arriving at work drunk or high
- unwilling to shake hands
- unpleasant body or breath odour
- dirty hands, skin, hair, nails, teeth etc
- poor personal habits (nail biting, picking nose, scratching etc.) or mannerisms.
- dirty or torn cloths
- clothes with inappropriate pictures, words, slogans etc
- inappropriate visible body art or adornment
- sexually explicit clothing ( visible underwear, excessive exposure etc)
-unsafe clothing, hair or jewelry.
- distracting gestures or mannerisms (twitches, compulsive behaviours). These may be medical in nature, but should still be considered if they are an employment barrier.
- poor posture (slouching etc).
- aware of and demonstrates appropriate manners in social situations
- follows social and cultural conventions such as hand shaking, eye contact etc.
- clean and well groomed (hands, skin, hair, nails, teeth)
- appropriate personal habits and mannerisms (hands away from face, posture etc).
How does your answer compare to the ESAT table? Would you make any changes? Explain.
OK, it is time for the tough part of this exercise. The Presentation Inventory on the next page asks you to be very honest about how you present to others. It will help you to identify your strengths, weaknesses and the barriers that might be stopping you from presenting yourself as you would like.
Please note that this is NOT about telling you that you should look like a fitness model, or a Hollywood star. It is NOT about making you feel bad about yourself. It is about having an honest, realistic look at yourself, and maximizing your potential. Being able to look at both your strengths and weaknesses is a huge step forward in developing the self-awareness you need to make changes in your life. You are to be congratulated for making this effort!
Still, doing this can be difficult. Here are some suggestions to help:
Do the inventory at a time when you are feeling good.
Prepare by getting yourself ready as if you were going to work.
Do it with a person you trust and who will be honest with you.
Do it with your Coach if you wish.
If you want to, ask part of your support team to do the inventory on you, independently. Getting someone else’s perspective can be an eye-opener!
Follow the instructions carefully. It is important that you do the first task as if you were an employer considering you as an employee.
When you have finished the inventory, make an appointment to discuss it with your Coach.
STEP 1: Put a YES in the blocks that you feel are not a problem for you.
STEP 2: Put a X in either SHORT TERM or LONG TERM for all the rest. Short term is something you could fix quickly if there were no barriers (i.e. hair style), LONG TERM requires time (i.e. fitness). If neither enter O
STEP 3: For each of the areas where you need improvement, identify any barriers related to money ($), time (T), information (?), or your own choice or cultural identity (: )). USE X in the blank to show it applies, O to show it doesn't
Remember: You are thinking about how you present yourself in the workplace.
Be honest. The activity will not be useful if you avoid potential problem areas.
YES if ok
NO if not
CLEAN, TIDY HAIR
FACIAL HAIR GROOMING
IN GOOD REPAIR
APPROPRIATE - PROVOCATION
APPROPRIATE - LOGO/MESSAGING
APPROPRIATE - SEXUAL/RACIAL/GENDER ETC
HABITS (UM, YOU KNOW ETC)
CLEANLINESS (WASH HANDS ETC)
APPROPRIATE FITNESS FOR WORK
End Part 1
Ed Part 1
Congratulations! you have completed part one of this workshop. Please contact your coach and make an appointment to discuss your responses. Do not proceed until this is completed.