Elevating Your Professional Persona

Smart advice for improving your workplace image


More tips
• Rethink voicemail. Few people under age 30 leave or listen to voicemail, and the practice increasingly is considered outmoded. Email is the preferred communications vehicle.

• Don't let budgets hamper creativity. It's a mistake to assume that big ideas have to come with a hefty price tag. Often the best solutions cost little or nothing.

Crunch Numbers

To earn greater respect from top management, upgrade your meeting reports by including more robust analytics. For example, include measurements demonstrating the effectiveness of promotion and outreach campaigns, as well as social media coverage and hits generated by your efforts.

Spring is a time for renewal and reflection, recalibration and simplification. As the season begins, planners should focus as much on improving their professional personas as they do on elevating their events. Following are simple ways to brush up your business image.

Develop a Strong Voice
Your voice can make or break how people perceive you, and cultivating a strong, confident tone requires both nature and nurture.

Pay particular attention to a current pet peeve of mine, the "vocal fry," which is a low-pitched, creaky-sounding speech inflection. (Click below to hear an example of this vocal pattern: huff.to/1BjDA1o).

No matter how much pedigree or talent you may have, severe vocal fry can make anyone sound unprofessional. To make sure you haven't picked it up in your speech pattern, ask several trusted professional contacts for a blunt and honest assessment of your voice. If they find such an inflection (or any other negative tone), work on maintaining a more even, authoritative pattern of speech.

Complain Constructively
Holding in complaints or gripes about workplace problems is bad policy. Bottling up your feelings can adversely affect your health, while making friends and family the constant brunt of your frustrations can strain such relationships.

On the other hand, incessant moaning, at home or work, isn't very helpful. Instead, go to your supervisor, peer or assistant (whomever needs to be told) and make an effort first to acknowledge what is going well before expressing your complaint.

Speak wisely, considerately and economically. If you want to be respected when lodging grievances, acknowledge the areas that need improvement, and be prepared to offer thoughtful, viable solutions.

Pare Down Emails
Email messages should be "all meat," and that meat should be lean. They should neither replace phone calls nor read like a novella. And it is rarely a good idea to use email to express or attempt to resolve conflicts.

Take extra time to communicate your message clearly and precisely, and then re-read it. Before hitting "send," ask yourself:

Is it brief? About 200 words is ideal. Modern professionals don't have time to pore through dense paragraphs of detail.

Is the tone appropriate? Messages should always convey friendliness and courtesy.

 Is the spelling and content accurate?

Could anything be misinterpreted?

Am I making an invalid assumption that my recipient knows what I am talking about?

Did I repeat/summarize information from a prior thread?

Have I copied the right people?

Remember, your emails are a key reflection on your professionalism.

Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.