Worried about making the right impression? Whatever the occasion, these tips on business dress, good communication and successful public speaking will help…

Dress to impress

How you dress says a lot about you. In these days of ‘office casual’ it is quite easy to mistake businesswear for beachwear.

Your office wardrobe should be kept quite separate from your casual/weekend wardrobe and, while a few pieces may double up, most of its content should aim to prepare you for any business event where you meet a new customer or a senior colleague.

The secret is to wear relatively formal, plain clothes with tasteful accessories. A splash of colour is great, but check it suits your colouring. Matching also works for business attire – few people can get away with mixing styles and patterns.

If you are going to a work function, make sure you understand the dress code. Most people over or underdress because they have left the choice of clothes to the last minute.

Walk and talk with confidence

How you stand, walk, sit and speak can make a huge difference to how you are perceived by others.

  • Stand tall and don’t slouch
  • Walk confidently. Wear the right shoes; heels that are too high for you will show immediately
  • Shake hands firmly. Look people in the eye, smile and repeat their names as they are introduced
  • Speak clearly and slowly
  • When talking to people whose first language is not English, speak slowly and avoid colloquialisms
  • Ask pertinent questions. Show genuine interest in what they do and have to say
  • Do not overload others with information about you
  • Use gestures to create a rapport, reinforce what you say and make people feel included. Open arms embrace people, crossed arms feel defensive and distant

Public speaking

Whether you have been asked to speak to 100 unknown conference-goers or a small team of colleagues, it’s natural to be nervous. These public speaking tips will help:

  • Know your audience. Think about what their objectives are, why they should listen to you and any questions they might raise
  • Prepare and rehearse. You can do this in front of a mirror or ask someone to listen and give you feedback
  • Make your messages clear and simple, speak slowly and ensure everyone is able to hear. Breathe regularly to calm your nerves
  • Show excitement and enthusiasm for your subject and communicate this passion to your audience
  • Provide examples to clarify your thinking and help others relate to the points you make7itjyi