It's about women but it applies to boys and men too!
I have seen the following tactics work for the women who succeed. As female entrepreneurs, we have a responsibility to foster the next generation by teaching them to:
- Speak up and speak confidently. Don’t save your ideas for post-meeting emails to your boss. If you have a seat at the table, show that you deserve it.
- Walk into a room like you belong there. Smile, hold your head up, make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and don’t mess with your outfit. First impressions are made in seconds, and they are based predominantly on non-verbal cues.
- End thoughts as statements, not questions. If your voice goes up at the end of a statement, it sounds like a question and conveys uncertainty.
- Eliminate the words “I think” before a recommendation. “I think” is a subliminal disclaimer that your idea might not be a good one. State your recommendation as though it is fact and others will consider it more seriously.
- Become comfortable with silence. After articulating a recommendation, let the idea percolate. Be comfortable letting your audience thoughtfully consider your point. Don’t fill that thinking space with chitchat.
- Be present. Listen first, and then formulate your response. Pay attention to the people in the room. Are they confused, interested, distracted? Base your next statement on their cues, not the thought you’ve been waiting to blurt out.
- Find a way to say no by saying yes. We’re accused of taking on too much, and never saying no. There is an eloquent and productive way to say no. It could simply be that saying yes means you must put another project on the back burner. Lead with the yes, and follow up with the caveat.
- Practice speaking in front of a large room. The only way to keep that warmth from coming up your neck and into your face when you present is to do it over and over again. Eventually, it will become second nature.
- Do your research first. Lead with the facts. Knowledge inspires confidence. And knowledge confers authority onto your recommendations.
- Use your personality to your benefit. Do not try to morph yourself into a man, or someone else’s vision of a successful career woman. Even if your boss is dictating the points you must make in a critical meeting, say them in your words. Only then will you deliver the message well.
- Seek feedback selectively. If the meeting felt good to you, it probably was. Asking for needless feedback is not something a confident man would do. In the business world, no news is often good news, so take it as such.
- Don’t default to apology in the face of scrutiny. Apologize only when you have done something wrong, not because someone doesn’t like your idea. You only have to own the mistakes you actually make. In all other scenarios, listen to the other person’s point of view respectfully, and calmly present your challenge.
- It’s okay to say you don’t know. Find out the answer and come back with a solid recommendation. Of course, you should make sure that you know the answer nine times out of 10.