‘Every encounter is an opportunity to positively influence clients, colleagues, neighbors — even competitors,” says Frances Cole Jones, a writer and editor who consults on preparation for interviews. “Not only your words, but your tone of voice and body language speak volumes. The question is: are they working together to say what you want them to as effectively as possible?”

Jones speaks on how to “Bring Your Best Self to Business and Life” at the 15th annual New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners procurement Day on Thursday, April 18, at 8 a.m. at the Pines Manor, Edison. Cost: $123. Register online at www.NJAWBO.org.

The event will provide information on a wide variety of topics for business, from negotiating skills to business development to working with government. Meetings can be set up with representatives of a variety of corporations, including a representative from the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Company.

During the expo, attendees will have three hours to make connections with representatives of corporations, government agencies, and business-to-business vendors. In addition, roundtable discussions will be offered on a wide variety of topics. The roundtables will be organized into groups of 10, each on a specific topic.

Workshops, which will begin at 11 a.m., will be held on the topic of “So You are Certified, Now What?” The workshop is designed to help business owners take the next steps in connecting and doing business with large corporations and governments.

Jones, the keynote speaker, is the author of “How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your (Brilliant) Self in any Situation” and “The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World.” She has also developed an iPhone and iPad app called “Interview Wow” to give job seekers tips and encouragement, even on their way to the interview.

She appears frequently on ABC and Fox News and is a business etiquette expert for Demand Media’s eHow video series, and a job interview expert for About.com. She speaks frequently around the country on topics such as “10 Things You Can Do Today to Wow Tomorrow,” “Catch Your Customer’s Attention — Keep Their Trust,” and “The Art of Sales.”

Jones received a degree in English and creative writing in 1986 from Connecticut College and a master’s from New York University. In 1997 She founded Cole Media Management, a media training company focused on cultivating clients’ strengths to develop more powerful communication skills.

Prior to founding her own business, Jones worked in publishing, including St. Martin’s Press, Viking Penguin, and Doubleday, as an editor of commercial nonfiction.

Says Jones: “The experience of helping authors translate their ideas into books that retain their unique voice” led her to working with them on their presentation skills, also. “There’s no point in my writing a perfectly crafted sound bite that you have to strain to remember. You need to sound like you. You on your best day.”

She says she was made aware of the power of presenting yourself properly from an early age. “It was rather like the Von Trapp Family in my house,” she says, referring to “The Sound of Music.” Her father would line her and her brother and sister up in the hallway to practice shaking hands. “I remember doing this as early as four years old. And he always told us to look the other person straight in the eye.”

Both of her siblings are now professors. Her father worked at a variety of careers, “everything from meat packer to writing books to working for a group that detected art forgeries,” she says. Her mother was employed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Those early lessons have paid off, she says. She still emphasizes the need for eye contact to her clients.

Getting what you want. Better presentation skills mean you are more likely to get what you ask for, and the person you are asking will also get what they want. A win-win, says Jones. But many people sabotage a great presentation by the way that they present themselves.

It’s not enough to have the words perfect. Studies have shown that people remember only seven percent of what is said to them. But 55 percent of physical presentation is remembered. That means that the tonal quality of your voice, your body language, and your facial expressions are even more important than your words.

Creating Trust. “People trust us more when they can see our hands,” notes Jones. Make sure that you don’t discuss money with your hands out of sight. Keep them on the table. And that casual pose with hands in pockets is not saying that you are relaxed, but rather that you may not be trustworthy.

We are rarely consciously aware of these subtle reactions, but differences in voice, in the way we stand or sit, and in eye contact can impact others strongly. “That too-cool-for-school pose when you sit down in a chair and lean back with your arm flung over the side is not flattering,” says Jones. It says we are uninterested in the other person.

Instead, make sure you sit with your feet flat on the floor, and have an upright, slightly off the back of the chair posture. “Not leaning too far forward, just slightly,” says Jones. This shows interest in the other person.

Maintaining Eye Contact. Eye contact is important, particularly when speaking to groups, says Jones. “You want to check in with your audience and see how they are reacting, not just look over their heads.”

Another tip for speaking in public is to stop frequently and invite questions.

Jones wants people to learn that they have far more control — even in situations that they feel are out of their control — than they realize.

“What I want people to take away from listening to me is that speaking in public is not as difficult as people would have you believe. It is easy to get good at it, and a lot of it is just practice and common sense.

“I want to pull the curtain back and help take the mystery out of being good at making presentations.”

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