Talk About Talk - Communication Skills Training

Talk About Talk - Communication Skills Training

#109 Five Impactful Ways to Reinforce Your PERSONAL BRAND

September 05, 2022

Here’s your checklist of 5 impactful but often overlooked ways that you can communicate and reinforce your personal brand. Of course there’s how we introduce ourselves, our social media profiles, our resume. But when was the last time you updated your voicemail greeting?

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5 Impactful & Often Overlooked Ways to Communicate your Personal Brand

1.  Your Voicemail Greeting
  • Ask yourself critically: Do my words and my tone effectively reinforce my personal brand?
2.  Your Email Signature
  • Always customize your sign-off and your name.  That’s not part of your email signature
  • Block it off. Think of it as a frame for a business card.
  • Personalize it and update it on a regular basis
  • Include links. 
  • Add contact information, but only for how you want people to contact you!
  • Consider adding your personal pronouns.
  • But don’t make it too long!
3.  Your Online Meeting Background
  • Ensure your camera is at eye level: eye to eye.
  • Make sure the light source is in front of you, shining on your face, not shining towards the camera.
  • Clean away on any unnecessary clutter behind you. 
  • Add items that reinforce your personal brand (books, trophies, art,…)
4.  Your Gravatar –  globally recognized avatar
  • Your headshot that follows you around the internet, so whenever you create a post or a comment, the image or headshot that you choose shows up.  
5.  Your answer to the Q: “How was your weekend?”  
  • You have 48 hours of experience to filter through when you’re answering this question.  
  • You can talk about the weather, you can deflect it back to the other person, or you can reinforce your personal brand!
  • Consider what you’re signalling when you mention where you were, who you were with, what you did, and so on. 



Personal Brand


Dr. Andrea Wojnicki & Talk About Talk 





I have a question for you… when was the last time you called your own phone number and listened to your own voicemail greeting?? You know, that message your colleagues and friends hear every time they call you and you don’t pick up?


Yikes! OK – Here’s the thing. Your voicemail greeting is just one of the many many ways that we implicitly communicate our personal brand to others. And it’s ALSO something that we often overlook. 


In this podcast episode, I’m going to take you through a CHECKLIST of 5 impactful but often overlooked ways that can help you effectively communicate your personal brand.


Greetings and welcome to Talk About Talk episode number 109, focusing on Impactful but overlooked ways to communicate your personal brand.


I’m your executive communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!). I‘m so delighted you’re here! If you’re an ambitious executive with a growth mindset, then you’re in the right place. You’ve probably spent years learning the technical skills, and now it’s time to up your game by focusing on your communication. And that’s EXACTLY what we’re all about here at talk about talk.


If you go to the website, you’ll find online courses, tip sheets, corporate workshops, one-on-one coaching, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the free weekly communication coaching newsletter.


One of the most common topics that we focus on at talk about talk is our personal brand. The reason for this is quite simple. Focusing on your PB can make a huge impact on you, on your career, and frankly on your life. Of course, we cover many other important communication-oriented topics.  Things like confidence, listening, storytelling, and demonstrating leadership. But it‘s this topic of personal branding where I’ve witnessed more epiphanies, and frankly where I’ve seen the most impact.  


If you’re looking for a quick PB primer, there are many many free resources on the website where you can get up to speed on personal branding. Just go to and at the top, search “personal brand.” Then you’ll see a list of the relevant podcast episodes, communication coaching newsletters, and even a comprehensive online course. 


Over the past several years I’ve coached hundreds of executives on their PB through one on one coaching and in workshops. Many of these executives hadn’t considered some of the important ways that we all communicate our personal brand. There are a few in particular that come up again and again. Like your voice mail greeting. Inevitably when I ask, “when’s the last time you updated your voicemail greeting?” I get nervous laughter. 


So in today’s episode, I thought I’d simplify things for you. Think of this episode as a checklist of five things that you can do RIGHT NOW to make a significant impact on your personal brand. Are you ready?


Wait wait, Before I share that list with you, I have to start with what I always say. You don’t have to take notes, because I do that for you. So just sit back and relax, or keep doing whatever you’re doing, driving, walking… you know the drill. You listen, I take notes… Then you access the summary in the shownotes later – on the website.  


OK, let me start with this. I know I sound like a broken record.  I say this all the time. But we all have a personal brand, whether we choose to strategically manage it or not. And let me be clear. When I say strategically manage, I’m not talking about manipulation and I’m certainly not talking about perpetuating falsehoods about ourselves. I’m talking about identifying our positive and unique traits, and articulating our superpowers.  Once you’ve taken the time to articulate your Personal Brand, THEN you can control your narrative, you can become the go-to expert, and you can optimize your career decisions.  This stuff is critical.


How exactly can you develop your personal brand? Well, I like to break it down into two steps. Step one is the creation or the articulation, the words identifying what your superpowers are and putting the right words around them. The second step is communication, and that’s what we’re focusing on here today. How we communicate or reinforce that personal brand.  It’s WHERE we’re communicating. It’s the media.


When you think about communicating your PB, what do you think of first? The low hanging fruit, at least in a professional context, is LinkedIn. When I’m working with clients that’s where we typically start. We update and optimize their LinkedIn profile. If we’ve done it right, then this comes pretty easy. After their LinkedIn profile, then we usually focus on writing out their short and long bio, and then their your resume. And so on. Then, the world opens up. Recently I was talking with someone and I said, “the opportunities of where to communicate your personal brand are infinite!”


Many people automatically go to things like the way you dress or grooming, like how you do your hair.  Body language comes up a lot.  As does the sound of your voice: your tone, your accent, your apparent confidence.


But there are several communication medium that seemed to come up again and again as overlooked, yet important – in this context of communicating your personal brand. Here it is – your checklist:


First is the one I just mentioned. Your voicemail greeting. Please call yourself. Listen to your voicemail message. I’m shocked at how many impressive executives have left their voicemail as the generic cellular carrier message. Some executives have asked me, is this really such a bad thing? And I say, you’re missing out on a big opportunity for people to hear your name, your voice, and your words. 


So update your voicemail greeting and ask yourself CRITICALLY: Do my words and my tone effectively reinforce my PB? 


OK, so that’s the first item on your checklist for reinforcing your personal brand. The next 3 things on the checklist are in the online context. Your e-mail signature, your online meeting background, and your headshot.


Let’s start with your email signature. Think about the number of emails that you send every day. And consider the opportunity to create an impression through your e-mail signature. A few do’s and don’ts’s here:


Please Do always customize the way you sign off. It is. This is a pet peeve of mine – when people have a generic, non-customized sign off.  Like Regards, Andrea. It’s obvious that person has made the sign off part of their email signature instead of customizing the sign off.

  • At BEST, they’re missing out on an opportunity for a more personalized sign off. Something more personal, like “looking forward to seeing you tomorrow” or “thanks for everything.” 
  • And at WORST, their sign off may be inappropriate. 
  • So please don’t be lazy. Please customize your sign off on every e-mail. It’s no big effort – just a few words. 

Now we’re talking about the e-mail signature. This is what shows off shows up AFTER your name. The do’s and don’ts? 

  • Do block it off. With a line or some sort of frame, This of it as a frame for a business card.
  • DO personalize it and update it on a regular basis.  I have a friend who adds a short quote that she updates every few weeks. That’s a great way to reinforce how thoughtful and well-read she is. I update my email signature to include a link to the latest TAT podcast episode.  Keep your email signature updated.  What else?
  • DO include links. Relevant links, perhaps to your LinkedIn profile, or your corporate website, or to a bio, or a piece of work you’re particularly proud of, 
  • DO include contact information for how you want people to contact you.
    • Do not include your email address . This is another of my pet peeves. Umm.  This IS AN EMAIL! Obviously I have your email address.  I just need to click reply.  So including your email address is wasting space.
    • DO not include your phone number of that’s not how you want people to connect with you. Think about how you want to people to connect with you, and that’s what you put in your email signature.

  • And Last:: Do not make it too long!  I realize I’ve shared a lot of ideas with you here about what you could include.  But be selective.


So that’s your email signature. Next is your online meeting background.  Of all the items on this checklist of five things, this is probably the one that you HAVE thought about. But I am shocked at how many executives I speak with everyday who have clearly not considered the significance of their online meeting background. Every time you’re in an online meeting, people are staring at whatever shows up behind you, behind your head – whether it’s a zoom meeting, or a teams meeting, or whatever platform you’re using. There are many ways you can optimize this:

  1. First – make sure your camera is at eye level. As I’ve said more than a few times, we don’t want to look down at your shiny forehead, and we certainly don’t want to look up your nose. Make sure you’re looking straight into the camera, eye to eye.
  2. Make sure the light source is in front of you. Think of it as a spotlight on your face. You might not have a ring light, and you might not even need a ring light, but make sure wherever the light, whatever kind of light it is that it’s shining on your face, not shining towards the camera.
  3. Clean away on any unnecessary clutter behind you. 
  4. Then add items that may reinforce your personal brand. In my online meeting background, I have a bookshelf with books that I often reference. Yes, even in meetings. There may be an opportunity for you to reinforce your personal brand with trophies or plaques that you’ve been awarded? Or some meaningful art? Perhaps a photo you took?


Ok, so that’s the 3rd way to reinforce your personal brand.  We’ve covered your voicemail greeting, your email signature, and your online meeting background. 


The next item is your GRAVATAR.  DO you know what that is? You probably know what an avatar is.  Well, a Gravatar is a globally recognized avatar.  In short, it’s a headshot that follows you around the internet, so whenever you create a post or a comment, the image or headshot that YOU choose shows up.  


You probably already have an avatar or a headshot on social media platforms that you use like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever.  A Gravatar wont replace that.  But for when you are on another platform or website and you’re commenting, the advantage of having a gravatar is that it allows you to create an instantly recognizable visual identity that you created.  While everyone else has their initials or a generic image of a headshot silhouette, you have your Gravatar.


Recently I updated my Gravatar to a professional headshot that I had done a few months ago.  I encourage you to do the same.  I’ll leave links to Gravatar resources and articles for you in the shownotes.  


So that’s #4 on the checklist.  Now we’ve covered your voicemail greeting, your email signature, your online meeting background, and your gravatar.  Just one more to go. Can you guess what it is? I doubt it.  I chose this one based on some insightful conversations I’ve had with smart managers.  This is a communication context that happens frequently – both online and in person. It can have a significant impact, but that we don’t really think about that much.  So it fits the criteria for this checklist perfectly.


It’s your answer to the common Q: “So, how was your weekend?”  Let that sink in for a minute.  “How was your weekend?”  How do you typically answer that Q?


There’s the deflection: It was great thanks, how was yours?

There’s venting: “OMG, you wouldn’t believe what happened. Blah blah…”

There’s the focus on working too hard: “I worked most of the weekend”

There’s the implicit bragging: “I flew to Paris and met celebrity ABC for drinks.”


Ok – probably not exactly that, but you get the idea.  This hadn’t occurred to me as an opportunity to reinforce my personal brand until , like I said I had a conversation with a really smart CEO who asked me to help her staff think about this stuff. Specifically she shared this scenario.  It’s Monday afternoon and her team is logging in to a status meeting with t heir client.  The client initiates the small talk and asks, “How was your weekend? Inevitably, she said, one of her junior staffers would start bragging about spending the weekend at a luxury cottage in Muskoka.  For those of your outside of Canada, Muskoka is a highly coveted vacation area north of Toronto where many affluent people spend their weekends.  The analogy could be The Hamptons for New Yorkers, or skiing for the weekend in Vail or Aspen.  It’s a scene.


This is just one example of this scenario, but you get the idea.  You have 48 hours oof experience to consider when you’re answering the question.  And as I always say when it comes to our PB, we are complicated, sophisticated human beings. We have multiple roles we play – in terms of our careers, our family & friends, our hobbies, and so on.  We cant share everything with everyone all the time, so we filter, depending on the context.


When someone asks you “How was your weekend?” you could answer in terms of where you were, who you were with, what you did, and so on.  You could even talk about the weather.  Or, as I said, you can deflect it.


But you can also reinforce your PB.  If you’re an executive with global experience, you could mention something that reinforces that.  If you want your boss to know you spent Sunday afternoon working on a project, you cold mention that.  If you want to reinforce your energy or your connections, your network, you could mention with whom you went to a rock concert.  You get the idea.


My default is to be positive, share a positive experience, and always ask the other person about their weekend. 


Its definitely something to keep in mind.  Again, it’s not about being manipulative.  Its about being strategic or conscious about what you’re implicitly saying about yourself.  Why is it important? Well, worst case, it’s an opportunity to mistakenly offend people. but on the other hand, there’s an opportunity to reinforce something you want others to know about you. 


Alright, that’s it! 

5 Impactful but often overlooked Ways to communicate Your Personal Brand

Do you remember what they are?

  1. your voicemail greeting, 
  2. your email signature, 
  3. your online meeting background, 
  4. your gravatar
  5. your answer to the Q: “How was your weekend?”


How many of these have you leveraged lately?  Are they updated and optimized?


I’d love to hear what you think of this list. Which ones you decide to focus on, and also if there are big ones that I missed on this list. Let me know how it goes or if you have any Qs. If you go to the talk about website, you can click on contact and send me a message there. 


Again, while you’re on the website, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk newsletter! This is your chance to get free communication coaching from me every week in a simple-to-digest weekly email. Just go to talk


THANKS for LISTENING.  Talk soon!


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