I have coached executives for more than 20 years. In working with successful leaders and professionals, I have found that making lasting impressions on the people you work with is pivotal to your advancement.
Here are some tips to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
“One of the easiest things you can do is look the part. However talented you are, if you don’t look like a professional, manager or leader, others may, rightly or wrongly, not see you as one. Observe the styles and colors favored by senior executives, and use that as a guide. For women, black and blue are “safe” colors, but make you blend in. A small or shy woman can augment her impact with bold shades. A confident or larger woman might consider wearing a more muted shade.”
“Short, simple sentences, spoken without hesitation, make a speaker seem in control of a situation – a quality we associate with a leader. Tone and volume are important too. Short, precise sentences and a low-pitched but clearly audible voice make a powerful combination.”
“How you move into and out of jobs has an enormous impact on perceptions of your success. Exiting a job well is about ensuring that your successor is in the loop, included in key meetings, and prepared enough to be able to step smoothly into your place. It is not about tying up every loose end. Although it’s important to move forward in an orderly way, it’s even more important to know when to leave behind your old role and expertise.”
“Whether you like it or not, others interpret your work area as a reflection of your personality and thinking. Décor is an area in which to tread carefully. While judicious use of personal pictures can show you to be a family person or motivated character, cute screensavers, cuddly toys and an excess of plants can detract from your professionalism. It isn’t that self-expression is bad, but in the small area of a work space, each item becomes more noticeable, taking on greater significance as a symbol of who you are.”
“If your moment in the spotlight goes badly, your reputation can be damaged. You minimize risk, and maximize potential glory, through careful preparation. Preparation isn’t just about knowing your subject, although that is important. You must prepare for your audience and their expectations, determining in advance what you want to leave them with so that you can tailor your presentation to that end. Think about how you want to come across, through the words you use, how you look, your facial expressions, and how you respond to questions.”
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