We see their logos everywhere – Apple, MacDonalds, Starbucks, Singapore Airlines etc. And we instantly recognize the brands behind these logos. Successful brands like these have created enough mindshare in all of us.
 
But less you think the term ‘branding’ applies only to big companies and corporations, think again…
 
Every individual (yes, that means you and I included) has a personal brand too. Think David Beckham, Madonna, Beyonce, Andy Lau, Lee Min Ho and all the other public figures we see in the media. They too used to be ordinary people like us before they successfully used their brand to skyrocket their careers.
 
Now that you know this, it still isn’t too late to consciously cultivate your personal brand. Start thinking of yourself as a brand. And no one else knows your brand better than yourself. And trust me, it will take you places if you do your personal branding correctly. 
 
Sharing personal branding strategies with the School of Social Sciences alumni students from the Singapore Management University (SMU) this morning, I discussed effective yet easy-to-implement ways to start building an awesome personal brand. In this blog post, let me take you through one of this technique which I term ‘SIM’. It is actually an acronym that we can all remember. Here’s why.
 
Your cell phone cannot operate without the SIM card. It is the key to activating your mobile device. Likewise, your personal brand will not be awesome unless you have created a SIM brand persona for yourself. It is the key to your ultimate success in life.

 
‘S’ Is For Story
 
Everyone loves a good story. From time immemorial, we have been entertained by stories from different sources – family, society, religion and politics. We especially love stories of how the weak become strong, the skinny becomes fit, the ugly becomes beautiful, the lost gets found and the fallen rise again…

Stories attract, entertain and invoke emotions. When you hear a story, you can instantly recall a similar episode in your life or identify it with someone in your life.
Stories also embody values we hold dear in our lives. 

What is your that one personal story that makes you stand out from the rest?

Remember, your story has to tug at the heartstrings as it connects human beings. And it has to be a true story. 
 
In my case, my story is how I have transformed myself from a sickly, skinny and low self-esteemed nerd into a multi-award winning business entrepreneur. And my story continues to inspire others through the years.

 
‘I’ Is For Image
 
Perhaps the simplest way to up your brand quotient is to create a desirable image. It is not difficult to do so. Here’s a quick 5 point checklist for you.
 
• Do you choose styles that flatter your body shape?
• Do you wear your best colours?
• Do you dress accordingly to the occasion?
• Do you feel good wearing what you wear?
• What image do you want to project to others?

Honestly, dressing is both an art and a science. There are certain key rules to follow (like the 5 point checklist I gave above). Yet, it is also an art because you have the choice to decide how you want to carry yourself.
 
Out of the 5 point checklist, I would suggest you pay extra attention to the last point – what image do you want to project to others? In other words, what are some of the connotations people associate your personal brand with?
 
There is a saying that goes – you dress not only for yourself. You also dress for others. 

Personally, I know for people associate me with adjectives like fit, confident, charming…How about you?

 
M Is For Message
 
Is there meaning and method in your message?
 
We get bombarded by messages of all sorts on a daily basis that we learn how to filter easily. And very often, we are closed to ideas, suggestions and proposals. This is because almost all messages are similar in nature. They are attempting to sell us something.
 
Stop selling and start caring! You are not a salesman.
 
The last thing you want to do is to meet someone new and start selling your product or service. Selling upfront does nothing good for your personal brand.
 
Ask yourself this – will you buy a gym membership from a guy who looks like he has many spare tyres around his tummy? Will you buy cosmetics from the lady behind the counter who does not even makeup on her face?
 
Authenticity is key to everything. Try to fake it and you will never make it. Do you walk the talk? Will you buy YOU? 
 
A personal brand can open doors and bring you places if people sense that you are real. 
 
When you care, people instantly know you are building a relationship of sorts for the long term. And they feel connected. Only when there is a connection will your message get across successfully.
 

If I were you, I will start thinking of myself as a brand. And I will want to start creating a powerful SIM brand that will give me that extra mileage of others so that I will always be remembered as the best in my field or go-to person in my industry.

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It’s an interesting fact to note that public speaking remains the number one fear in the hearts and minds of most people. In other words, the person who is asked to deliver the eulogy is feeling more terrified than the person lying in the coffin!

 
Jokes aside, it’s not difficult to see why many literally turn pale when asked to speak in public. They often feel they are not good enough to rise to the challenge. And more importantly, people listening to them will judge them.
 
Fortunately for me, public speaking comes naturally to me. This could be because I’ve honed my craft since young. Yes, you can take part in oratorical competitions and debates like I did back in my school days. Or you can also practice until it becomes second nature to you, especially when you have to do endless work presentations to clients.
 
As you probably know by now, I’m paid to speak in public. This means I often have to think on my feet while maintaining my composure. It really is not that difficult. 
 
Thank you SLS Bearings for inviting me to speak at your company retreat today.
 
I have come up with 5 useful tips which you can use to become a good public speaker too. Put together, these 5 tips form the CLEAR principle. Let me share more with you.

 
#1: Clarity Is Key

C is for clarity.
 
Always be clear and concise in your message. Clarity is important because it involves getting the idea out of my head and transmitting it into yours, without any change in interpretation. Always send one idea across at one time. This is akin to a tennis match. If only one tennis ball is coming your way, you can volley to receive it. But if there are many tennis balls coming your way, you will be distracted as your attention has now been dispersed. 
 
There is also no point trying to appear smart or learned by using big words, jargons or technical terminologies. Keep your language simple. 
 

#2: Laughter Is Good

L is for laughter.
 
As a public speaker, I am not afraid to inject humour into my presentations. When used appropriately, humour acts as an excellent speaking tool to liven up the mood in the room. It’s like adding some sparks in your relationship or buying yourself a surprise gift. How do you feel?

You lighten up and you liven up. Similarly, it has the same effect on the audience. Nobody is interested to sit through a speech or presentation which is dry, boring and long.

Be warned though that you should not tell a joke just because you have to. It has to blend seamlessly into your speech. 

 
#3: Enjoy The Process
 
E is for enjoyment.
 
When you get an invitation to speak – whether it is to do a keynote speech or a training workshop, you should feel blessed. And that is always how I feel.

People are keen to listen to what new insights you have to offer. In other words, you are invited because you are regarded as an industry expert or thought leader. 

It’s your ‘show’. Enjoy the process of speaking and sharing with the audience. 

If you are really enjoying yourself, it shows in both your facial expressions and body language.

The audience knows if you are tense or relaxed. 


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#4: Adopt Different Modalities

A is for adopting different modalities.
 
Variety is the spice of life. Depending on the time allocated to me (this often ranges from the signature 90 minute keynote speech to a full day workshop), I use different training methodologies such as demonstrations, group shares to ‘hot seats’.
 
Break up the monotony of doing the same thing over and over again. Once it becomes a routine, the fun element is lacking. It’s like a magician using the same old pull-the-bunny-out-of-the-hat trick over and over again. Haven’t we seen that 1000 times?
 

#5: Rapport Building Is Crucial

R is for rapport building.

Excellent communication happens when there is great rapport built between speaker (you) and listener (audience). There are many ways you can build rapport with the audience. Here are three proven ones which I always use.
 
Arrive Early. I make it a point to turn up at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time. This way, I can network with the members of the audience who are early too.
 
Smile. This always works. A smile helps to break the ice. And it sends across a message that I am relaxed.
 
Move Around. Unless you are specifically told to stand behind the rostrum, chances are you have some freedom of movement. This means you can walk up to the audience. Nobody is going to stop you from doing so. And you are not going to get mobbed because there are no die-hard Kpop fans in the audience.
 
If you are CLEAR about what you are speaking and how you are going about embark on your next speaking engagement, you are going to rock it. And when you think back on what you have achieved, a little smile will show on your face and you will be looking forward to speak again in public very soon.
 
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