Many times, the problem isn’t the qualifications, but the credibility we project. Until we have been in a position of leadership long enough to prove ourselves, we need to establish credibility with those around us. All too often we are our own worst enemies in this. There are mistakes we make on a regular basis that with a little awareness and effort can make a huge difference in how we are perceived.
Having passion about what you are talking about will make you sound more credible. When we don’t have passion in our voice, we often sound bored or monotone. When we have passion, others listen more intently and want to know what we have to say.
Being slouched over or being too rigid can both send the wrong message. Body language is important to the impression we make on others. Head up, stomach in and shoulders down will usually do it whether you are sitting or standing. Looking more confident breeds credibility and this includes eye contact. It’s important to make eye contact, but don’t overdo it by staring someone down. Follow the three second rule – make eye contact for three seconds, glance away and come back. If you practice this rule, it will become natural.
What We Wear
When making an impression, what we wear can make a big difference. Business professional is best. Look at what people are wearing in the positions above you and emulate that. People need to be able to imagine you in the position, so show them you look the part.
Read the Room
And finally, know your audience. Build relationships with those who make the decisions, get to know the decision makers and what they are looking for. When you can speak to their needs, doors open. It will allow you to ask good questions – and yes, you should ask questions – knowing everything is not the key, knowing what to ask is.
While this is in no way a complete list of things to watch for, it is a good start. Making these few adjustments will go a long way towards success.
Alisa Hunt is the Post University Program Chair, Master of Science in Accounting and M.B.A. Entrepreneurship Concentration, Finance Concentration. Alisa has been in the business world for 20-plus years, as a business owner, and in leadership positions in various organizations. Currently, she owns a consulting and training company where she trains and consults with business on issues from Accounting and Finance to Diversity and Creativity.