Startups is the new buzz word getting all the attention these days and why not, a new dynamism has seeped into the entrepreneurial world off late. Boardroom video conferences, large scale VC pitches, client meetings over meals and so much more. The startup world is no less than show biz today. There is action, drama, emotions, stress, happiness and excitement.
With this dynamic shift in the work culture, young professionals have begun to realise the importance of a spectacular self-presentation at all times. While the core and technical skills are still dominant, those with sharp people skills and better presentation most definitely make the cut. When I started my coaching career as an image consultant, I largely focused on dressing and styling, but in the last five years I have received way more queries for corporate presentation rather than just wardrobe styling. This made me take a careful shift in the area of business coaching and people skills.
Almost 80% of my clients are mid to senior level executives and entrepreneurs who have hit the road block either because of lack of diplomacy, difficulty in addressing large gatherings, sounding assertive and powerful or simply because they lack expression through body language and impactful dressing.
I’ve realised that executive presence is a strong skill set, the significance of which is often disguised in easy funding, promotions, better market opportunities and salary hikes. And the problem is that at least 90% of my clients approach me only when they realise how many opportunities they have missed to make a mark. By then it’s not only late, but the client gets into a fire fighting mode. This takes a lot of effort from my side to first ease their minds to enjoy the process of image rebuilding. So here are a few points to keep in mind in order to uplift your business image right away:
An elevator’s pitch is a crisp powerful introduction which highlights your ‘Secret Sauce’. A well-crafted elevator’s pitch reminds you of your natural skill sets, your dynamism which you have kept undisclosed to the world. This is especially important for those who have entrepreneurial inclinations. As a startup, you naturally have no backing of a big brand name, you are the one to create your brand name. Highlighting the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of your product or service is way more important than simply talking about your offerings. Your elevator’s pitch is your narrative. It shouldn’t be restricted to who you are and what you do but it should go far beyond that, focusing on how you do what you do or how you became who you are today. This adds a strong dose of human connection into your pitch, your tone and even your body language.
Most of my clients have great one on one relationships with their team mates, but when it comes to meetings & presentations, they cringe and pull themselves out. There can be multiple reasons for this. Fear of public speaking, fear that they will sound under-confident, that they will lose the client or because they don’t feel comfortable with too many eye gazes at them at the same time. Now here’s the thing, if you want to climb up the corporate ladder or establish your start-up, you will have to work way more on your people skills and over all presentation, rather than just your technicals. This is like a bitter medicine which pushes you out of your comfort zone in the beginning, but the results are far better than what you expect. So you need not sweat too much proving to others that you know your subject, the challenge is packaging your work in your words and conduct. That’s the challenging bit and why not, research states that fear of public speaking is one amongst the top ten human fears. Speaking in public not only displays your leadership skills, but it also gives you the confidence to use your body language, voice and technical skills all at once. Your team believes in you more, they look up to you and you have much better prospects of getting into the next level role. In fact, pitching your product or service to a large group hones your communication skills. You learn how to be articulate- what to say and how much to say. With continuous practice, you keep getting clearer about your own work, which is great for startups because they are always clouded with uncertainty.
In this terribly competitive world, we often find ourselves taking the brunt of every possible task related to our project or assignment. The reason? Fear. Fear of under performance, client criticism and fault finding, not meeting the deadlines, not getting the desired funding or simply the need to be a perfectionist. If you want to be valued and respected for your contribution at work, you will have to learn the art of saying no to tasks which are genuinely beyond you in terms of time or skill set. Especially as an entrepreneur, you are surrounded with endless opportunities and possibilities. In that highly volatile atmosphere, saying no to few tasks can be an extremely liberating feeling. It gives you a lot of free mind space to focus on the most important tasks. As international leadership coach Greg Mckeown talks about the theory of essentialism, which means when we say no, we make space to focus on essentials.
Making an impact is not that easy and doesn’t come naturally to many of us. But with consistent practice and professional help, we can look and sound more charismatic and dynamic.
About the Author – Shreya Dhingra is a Certified Image Coach, and the Founder of Your Image and I – an image communication consultancy where Shreya works with individual and corporate clients to build their personal and professional image through better people skills, voice patterns, body language and wardrobe. Shreya is an MBA by qualification and worked in the retail and media industry for three years before starting up five years ago.
(image credit: Shutterstock)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)