It doesn’t matter if it’s a business meeting, conference, charitable event, or social gathering, you can light up any room just by cultivating an air of confidence and calm that others may envy.
How do you project a professional image? Just follow this sage advice:
For starters, be at your best:
- Your hair should be clean and recently washed, and if you bleach your hair, with no dark roots showing.
- Nails should be well groomed, and buffed or polished with no chips.
- Go easy on the aftershave, perfume or makeup. You’d be surprised how many people find strong scents, even expensive ones, annoying.
- Ladies: limit jewelry to two pieces. Wear earings and a bracelet or a necklace and ankle chain, but not all four.
- In clothing, style matters more than color. Choose a color that makes you happy in a simple, understated style. Too many details and patterns will make you look fussy. If you are fresh and stylish, your outfit doesn’t have to scream “look at me” for people to pay attention.
- One more point on dressing for success—be comfortable. Nothing should squeeze, pinch, or bunch up. And, ladies, if four inch heels make you pitch forward like a sapling in the wind, leave the stilettos home.
- Posture counts, but don’t try to hold your shoulders back and stomach in, simply lift you rib cage. You’ll instantly look five pounds lighter.
- When you walk, lengthen your stride and slow your steps slightly to convey an air of relaxed confidence.
- Smile—just smile and be pleasant.
- If you’re a woman, don’t carry a purse unless you have to. And, whether a man or a woman, don’t cross or fold your arms in front of you. The goal is to be open and approachable. At social gatherings many people throw up barriers without even knowing it. Don’t stand behind a chair, or table, and don’t gravitate to the corners or edges of the room. Mentally welcome the group with open arms and you’ll be surprised how many people want to talk to you.
- If there is no one to introduce you, introduce yourself. If you’re at a party, mention how you know the host; if it’s a business function, mention your company and your position.
- Food, not weather, is the number one best subject for small talk and most gatherings provide lots of leads to get the ball rolling. The food is great, lousy, cold, hot, there’s too much, there’s not enough, etc. Not everyone goes to movies or is into video games and music, but everyone eats and everyone seems willing to share their likes or dislikes when it comes to food, which isn’t true about a lot of things.
- Other safe subjects for small talk might include the venue, the room, the building, or the traffic. If it’s a business meeting come prepared to talk intelligently about the business at hand.
- At a social gatherings, if the conversation lags and you feel the need to keep it going, instead of talking about a book or movie, bring up an interesting but off beat news story. Something featured on a strange or weird news feed will introduce new fodder for discussion, an element of levity or wonder, and prompt others to participate.
- Just don’t bring up anything distasteful or disgusting.
- Without being rude, avoid talking about religion, politics, or who is bombing whom unless the gathering has an agenda that aligns with one of those subjects.
- Be a good listener. Stick to one conversation at a time. Give the other person your undivided attention, and don’t be distracted by a more interesting person or conversation happening a few feet away.
- If someone makes your uncomfortable, say something like– “Excuse me. I just wanted to say ‘Hello’, maybe we can talk later.” Then walk away.
Eat, drink and be merry:
- If there is food, enjoy it. Nothing says uptight more than a dieter or picky eater. Consume alcohol in moderation. Even taking time to think about it, most of us would be hard pressed to name a drunk we admire.
- Don’t fidget. Relax and enjoy the experience, the place, and the people. Stay in the present and block thoughts of where else you could be, or what else you could be doing.
- Be content, if you’re happy, others will want to be happy with you.
- When it’s time to go, just go. Even if you’re the center of attention, the party will survive without you.
- Make your exit short but unrushed.
- Thank your host and/or hostess. Complement the success of the event.
- Shake a few hands, give a few hugs, and leave the party as confident and fresh looking as when you arrived.
There are times when being yourself is overrated and a little positive visualization and internal pep talk can go a long way toward helping you feel comfortable and confident in social situations. Feeling like the light of the room isn’t crucial, but it doesn’t hurt a thing. Let us help you expand your professional image through our creative branding, graphic design, and website design services. For more information, please contact The Sherwood Group.
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This article is published by Will Sherwood | The Sherwood Group |Website Design | Graphic Design | Marketing Communications: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising, graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering, Now what do we do?” We are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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