It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in a conversation and chime in before you’re ready, leaving you fumbling for words and at risk of losing the room’s attention.
Hit pause before you speak and decide what you want to say. Think about how it’ll be received and what it has to do with what others are saying, and work out the order in which you want to express your idea’s elements.
Don’t sound apologetic when you’ve got nothing to apologize for, or act as if you don’t really deserve to be there. Be confident, or learn how to fake it. Even if your answer doesn’t fully hit the mark, your professional demeanor will likely keep it from reflecting poorly on you and your judgment.
Note: Confident doesn’t mean being artificially obnoxious or pushy.
You want to take advantage of every opportunity you have for generating a professional impression. Body language can be one such opportunity.
Walk into the meeting space confidently and sit straight in your chair. Keep your arms unfolded to look less like you’re on guard and more like you’re welcoming others’ ideas.
Stay calm. Don’t lose your temper or otherwise overreact emotionally, even when there’s disagreement. Stay classy. In a stressful meeting, you may be able to think of something to say that’ll reduce the tension level for everyone. Be careful, though. Remember that everyone’s on edge, so be sensitive to that. Jokes are likely not the best idea here. Being the grown-up can make you more credible.
When you’re presenting your ideas, keep your eyes from wandering upward. This looks like stalling and makes you look lost or incompetent. Maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking to.
These simple behaviors can make a big difference in how seriously others take you and your ideas. Give them a try.