so here we begin… 52 weeks of bettering myself, both personally and professionally. you can learn more how this whole endeavor came about here. i’m very excited to get started, and i hope that you’ll follow along and give it a try.
for our first week, the challenge is going to be focused around presence, which i chose specifically for this week because of its versatility in how it can be interpreted. it’s something that almost anyone can work on in one form or another. you can chose to improve your professional presence, or you can work on it in your personal life. for example, maybe you need to demonstrate your presence better to your kids by being present more often at their activities and school events, or by being a more effective disciplinarian if you’ve been struggling with them being disobedient or acting out. or maybe you can be present by giving your boyfriend some extra attention or by being there for a friend who is going through a rough time. these days, with emails and text messages and social media, we can all practice taking a break from our phones and being more present for the people around us.
i personally will be working on improving my presence professionally this week. while at the PMA women’s fresh perspectives conference last week, i attended a session on being the “driver” instead of the “passenger” in business. one of the main topics discussed was the importance of presence and that your presence is demonstrated in a way that leads to success. this can be challenging sometimes as women working in a world that was not long ago ruled by men. i feel fortunate to be able to say that men and women are treated as equals at my company, and i have never felt inferior in any way because i’m a woman.
still, the points that were made and the tips that were given in the session by the speaker, susan hodgkinson, were very practical and insightful, and i believe that it would be very beneficial for my career to practice them in the workplace if i want to move up the ladder [which i would absolutely say that i do right now]. for example, she talked about the fact that anyone and everyone can have charisma, and that we can control how interesting we are. we should smile a lot, insert pauses while we’re speaking, and make a point to change our pace and focus on emphasis – which words we accent in a sentence – in order to keep people’s attention, whether speaking to a large crowd or leading a small meeting in the workplace. as women, we should work on the pitch and volume of our voice – we oftentimes have a habit of talking higher than necessary, especially when we’re nervous [or when we’re on the phone – i know that i do this]. when you go lower, you sound more calm, collected, and professional, and will be more likely to be taken seriously. we all practiced speaking in lower voices during the session, and it really did make a difference! [not that we have to use this voice all the time or get a complete “man voice,” but if we find that pitch where our voice really resonates well, it’s going to lead to the most success in a professional setting.]
finally, she talked about how when you’re answering to your boss or someone above you, you want to be “deductive” and state the conclusions first and the back-up data second. in fact, you don’t even have to provide the back-up data until you’re asked, and then you will be providing the most top-level information without giving too much detail that they aren’t interested in [just ensure that you have the details in your back pocket, ready to be given if asked]. the higher up you get in your company, the more important this becomes, so why not practice it now?
these are the areas that i’m going to work on this week, so hopefully i’ll see a little improvement, just by being conscious of them and correcting myself when i’m not demonstrating my presence in a way that i would like it to be known. we’ll touch base on how the week goes next sunday, and feel free to share your challenge of the week with me! i’d love to hear what you’re doing.
…and now, lemme take a selfie! ;)