When it's important that you say it right, what can you do to prepare, so you won't say it wrong?  How can you ensure that the next words that come out of your mouth will be the right ones?           
       At this time of the year, there are lots of opportunities to meet new people at networking events or holiday parties.  Whether we have only 30 seconds to attract attention or an hour seated next to someone at a dinner table, we want to present ourselves as someone worth getting to know better.  Here are four helpful techniques to approach every new encounter with confidence and sincerity and make our interactions, brief or lengthy, memorable and worth repeating.

       Know who you're going going to speak to.  When you decide to go to an event, one of the factors that attracts you is the guest list.  There will be people there you'd definitely like to meet.  Learn as much as you can about them before you go.  The Internet makes it relatively easy.  Knowing what interests them gives you a good idea of what subjects to raise and which to avoid.   Nothing grabs someone's attention faster than talking about something they like doing.

       Know what you want to achieve from this meeting.  Your goal may be a simple exchange of business cards, an invitation to phone for an appointment, or to meet for lunch or coffee or an afternoon tennis game.  Knowing what result you want will enable you to focus what you say.  If he's a tennis buff, and you'd like to join him on the court, you'll steer the conversation toward sports and your mutual interest in tennis.  If you want a business meeting, you'll focus on the benefits he'll receive from talking further with you.  It's easy to attract other people if you remember a simple acronym: W.I.I.F.T.  What's In It For Them?  It's not about you, it's always about them. 

       Before you say a word, know exactly what words you want to say because you've planned them ahead of time and rehearsed them at home or in the car.  Planning what to say in advance is a technique successful people use to ensure they don't trip over their tongue or get flustered and say something they didn't mean at all.  Remember WIIFT... prepare the exact words to show the benefits talking further with you will promote.

       Breathe, smile and say your mantra.  In the moment before you speak, take a deep breath, put a welcoming smile on your face and, to yourself, say that short sentence that makes you feel happy, buoyant, confident, shoulders back, head high, ready to take on the world.  That's your mantra.  Mine is, "Okay, Marion, permit yourself to be delightful!"  Makes you laugh?  Makes me laugh, too, and feel really good about myself.  I say it just before I speak.  Works like a charm. 

       Whatever the event, not only do we want to look our best, we also want to say absolutely the right thing to connect with someone who may be important to us in the coming year.  Plan ahead, know what you want to achieve, and you'll stand out from the crowd!