Subdue Your Tick

It is ridiculous how often you see a senior corporate “leader” speak and you wonder in astonishment how on earth they got to where they are.

Above is a CEO of a $200bn company in Oracle. I caught the tech giant’s Mark Hurd discussing latest quarterly results and where he thinks the (mainly) back office sector is headed. Impressive he was sadly not.

At one point – unfortunately not selected for the broadcaster’s subsequent video clip of the interview – he mangled defining “patching”. If you have a key concept you wish to attach an argument to, it goes without saying you absolutely must practice how to get it across and truly nail it. To try and find a crumb of comfort, he could build on the one decent part of his drivel. This was about how customers wouldn’t have simply less work to do come upgrade time, they’d now have zero work to do. Almost twenty years in, this simple step should be second nature, Mark…

Still, this aside – along with all the usual self-billowing nonsense chief execs often get trapped into during these types of media set pieces (& I’m happy it is not because I am just non-American that I hate all the ‘we we we’ growth glorious growth who-cares-about-the-paying-client rubbish that fills these dog and pony shows) – perhaps my main irritation was shown in my screenshot above.

From just a few seconds in, I was screaming… Don’t Touch Your Nose!!!

Countless times when answering he put his left index finger to the mid-left side of his nose.

Time and time again.

Whether you ever watched the Tim Roth series Lie To Me about the revelations of subconscious microexpressions or not, you’ll likely realise that this kind of body language is clearly not a good thing.

Whether it be due to any nervousness, general situation discomfort or the worry that there may be a less wonderful reality at play being deliberately hidden, this became a tick.

A gesture repeated almost comically, to the extent you cannot really focus on what is being said any more.

Ask a colleague to watch you rehearse. Talk in front of a mirror. Video yourself on your phone delivering a pitch, handling that big objection, telling a selling story.

Take feedback, make mental notes, watch it back. What are your hands doing? Your eyes? Any other expressions?

Are they likely to distract your audience? If so, cut ’em out. You won’t need a supposed oracle to tell you that.

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