10 Steps to Improving Your Professional Presence

Do you want to stand out in your department? In your company? In your industry? Your professional presence plays an important role in career success. The two go hand-in-hand. But your professional presence goes beyond wearing a nice suit jacket and picking up the tab. It consists of your appearance, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, attitude and overall business etiquette. Professionals who pay attention to these factors are the ones who get ahead faster.

Below are tips to help improve your presence:

  1. Take your appearance to the next level. Wear clothes that fit you (check out my guide for dressing for your body type), complement your style and highlight your best assets. Invest in a professional hairstyle to complete your look. Your goal is to look like a winner.

  2. If you struggle with public speaking, identify low risk ways to practice, like joining a Toastmasters group.

  3. Improve your vocabulary. Buy a word-of-the-day calendar and use a new word each day. Before you know it, you’ll have an impressive vocabulary.

  4. Evaluate your nonverbal communication skills. Do you have a strong handshake? Good posture both standing and sitting? Are your facial expressions positive when meeting someone for the first time? Many are unaware that they have poor posture, a weak handshake or often frown.

  5. Hand gestures can be distracting or can help emphasize a point. Video yourself presenting to see how well you do.

  6. Being a Negative Ned can be toxic in the workplace. A positive and enthusiastic attitude can be contagious. People are attracted to and want to work with people who are engaging and motivated. If this is a tough habit to break, place a rubber band on your wrist and snap it every time you say something negative and unnecessary. You'll change your outlook in no time.

  7. Polish up on your business etiquette. Do you know how to do a proper introduction? Do you know where to place your napkin when you leave the table? Do you know how much to tip the concierge, bellman and valet? Knowing the right way to handle these situations makes you appear poised and polished.

  8. Make sure your e-mail communication is professional. Proper grammar and tone are important, and how you address a colleague, peer, manager or vendor is also critical.

  9. How you present yourself in voicemail leaves a lasting impression. Don't let an unprofessional or long-winded message ruin a business opportunity. Messages should always be short, clear and positive.

  10. Pay attention to how you present yourself during business meetings. Always turn off your cell phone beforehand. Arrive on time and listen when others speak.


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Margaret Batting - Professional Development Consultant, Executive Coach, Brand Strategist and Keynote Speaker, Servicing Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Beyond
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