There are certain pieces of advice that almost every young entry-level worker gets used to hearing: Look professional at all times, speak confidently, be authoritative.
What’s less clear is how a young worker can actually develop these skills.
In her new book, “Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success,” economist and founder of the Center for Talent Innovation Sylvia Ann Hewlett guides readers through how they can appear more confident and successful in the workplace.
“If you are the most junior person on the team, you have to prove that you have the right to be there,” Hewlett says.
Read on for some pointers from Hewlett for workers who are looking to learn how they can get ahead.
Communication is key.
Regardless of what field you are in, the ability to present your thoughts clearly is essential. “It’s learning how to be concise,” she says. “Make sure that you are contributing something that is fresh and new.”
Watch your tone.
Your voice can give away a lack of experience or indicate anxiety. “The clarity and pitch of your voice is important,” she says.
Hewlett recommends practicing keeping your voice level and cutting down on “up talk,” which is when speakers raise their voices at the end of a sentence.
Practice, practice, practice.
The key to learning how to speak confidently is repetition, says Hewlett. A good idea is to record yourself speaking as you would at a team meeting. “You can get a friend and practice together,” Hewlett says. “Practice how you can boil down your thoughts in a concise way.”
Find people in the office you can model.
Is there someone in the office who always seems to say and do the right thing? “Find a role model who you think cracks the code,” Hewlett recommends.
Don’t look at your notes.
One of the keys to appearing knowledgeable is to be able to speak without relying on things like PowerPoint and notes. “I’m not saying never use notes,” says Hewlett. “But use [PowerPoint] sparingly. Be prepared to make your points without reading them. Tell stories. Make eye contact.”
Leave your smartphone behind when attending meetings to avoid the temptation of looking at it. “Team leaders hate it when people show up and seem distracted,” she says. “To appear focused and to appear available is half the battle.”
Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.