Values determine our thoughts, emotions and actions. They point to a future of how we would like to be and live. Values control and shape our identity and reveal our personal side. The same applies to the shaping of companies and organizations. Steve Jobs said in 1997, “Marketing is about values.”

Values direct you and convince Others

If you convince with your presentation, you show your personal side and communicate based on values. To do so, answer yourself the following questions:

  • What is important to me?
  • How do I present myself as a person (and as an expert) today and in the future?
  • How do I present myself as part of an organization, a project?
  • What attributes does my organization / company stand for?

By answering these questions, you will gain clarity about your personal values. Many people can accurately reflect what and how they do not want to be. At the same time, only few people can describe what they want to be and how they want to appear to the outside world.

Clarity about yourself and your personality is essential. Keep this in mind once you start working with people from other cultural backgrounds: How will you present yourself accordingly? If you are a researcher: Do you also work with people from a business background? You will find that their habitus, language style, and personal appearance will be different from yours. Think about the values your target audience stands for and whether they overlap with your values. If this is the case to a larger extent, you will lay the foundation for personal connection and identification with your audience.

Find your personal Values: Here’s how

Are you aware of your personal values? The Internet offers numerous lists with dozens of different values in large tables. You will find values such as charisma, success, individuality, respect, tolerance, and reliability. Here you can compare two values and delete the one that is less important to you. Repeat this until about five values remain in front of you that you stand for.

Here I provide a brief overview of those values other organizations stand for:

LinkedIn: We put members first. We trust and care about each other. We are open, honest and constructive. We act as One LinkedIn. We embody diversity, inclusion and belonging. We dream big, get things done and know how to have fun.

Google: Focus on the user and all else will follow. It’s best to do one thing really, really well. Fast is better than slow. Democracy on the web works. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer. You can make money without doing evil. There’s always more information out there. The need for information crosses all borders. You can be serious without a suit. Great just isn’t good enough.

Netflix: Judgment, Selflessness, Courage, Communication, Inclusion, Integrity, Passion, Innovation, Curiosity.

It is important to not only write these values on the website and display them on a poster in the foyer of your company’s headquarters. Communicate the work and corporate culture with your values, which you exemplify on a daily basis. LinkedIn, Google, and Netflix even take it a step further: They describe each of their values in detail on their websites. This way, they ensure transparency and trust.

Personal Values keep you evolving

What is true for companies is just as valuable and important for ourselves. Take enough time to clearly define the values you stand for. My personal values are honesty and sincerity, respect and appreciation, as well as curiosity and ambition.

From my perspective, curiosity means being open to new things, being interested in developments and trying out new things. In practice, this was the rapid switch from live to online presentation training in early 2020. I have complemented the daily practical experience with a professional training to become a certified online trainer in 2021. My clients appreciate the consistently high level of presentation training, both live and online.

I take it one step further by asking myself the question: Which values would I like to integrate even more strongly into my everyday life in the future? These are values that are already inherent in me, which I would like to develop to the next level: Courage, vision, focus, internationality, people, and joy. What values would you like to stand for in the future?

Why “Focus” is a Key Value

My future key value “Focus” may exemplify this: I have always been interested in a number of aspects of life. In 1994, I decided to study geography because it offered many interesting career opportunities after graduation. Later, I researched natural science processes. Today I am more interested in aspects of interpersonal communication.

That is where I see the risk of getting bogged down in my actions: I like to read the online post about special TED Talks. Shortly after, I read a new book on giving talks to an interculturally diverse audience. These may not be activities that get me far and fast. As a result, I have less time for even more important things.

The “Focus” aspect is also important in talks: In short presentations like the Science Pitch, we talk about exactly one topic. It is pointless to illuminate twenty aspects in minute detail. My seminar participants know the anecdote that in my first presentation as a doctoral student I brought in a lot of “and-and-and…” aspects. Why did I finally fail? Because I lacked focus. Today I know that the motto “less is more” helps to maintain focus. This is both clear and convincing for the audience.

Draw Boundaries: This is not who You want to be

Another exercise relates to clearly distancing yourself from values that are a clear taboo for you. Values that you firmly distance yourself from. My no-gos include hate, intolerance, hasty prejudice, personal insult, and ignorance. I would not coach anyone who communicates in a condescending manner or repeatedly insults other people.

“Hasty prejudice” is consistent with classic labeling based on stereotypes: I know people who assign other people to certain groups before they even know each other personally. This way they miss the unique chance to remain open-minded and curious and to be able to learn from each other. As a result, other people quickly end up in categories to which they do not feel they belong, or to which they belong to a limited extent only.

Personal Values shape your Character

Project your values onto a desirable future. This is how you consciously set priorities and develop yourself based on values. You gradually become the person and character you envision. When you embody values that match your beliefs, you take on a new character.

This post is also available in: German

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