As a woman-owned business, we often are the only females in the boardroom. Sometimes meeting rooms are filled with older men with little patience for younger people and even less for younger women. We always tell our Snackbox apprentices there are ways to carry yourself that will break down that barrier and prove your professionalism, such as dressing the part and being prepared for every client encounter. But what good is a well-dressed, well-prepared business woman if she doesn’t have the proper speech to match? In this post, we explore a list of habits business women need to remove, pronto.
Does this make sense? – The purpose is to check for understanding, but you are insinuating that you aren’t making sense. An alternate phrase is, “I trust you’re following me.”
Sorry – You may be in a meeting and want to interject in the conversation. Your points are valid, so no apologies are necessary. You devalue your thoughts when you apologize for them.
Like – When the 1980’s Valley Girl creeps into your speech, it can make you sound immature. Many of us have formulated this as a tick in how we talk to take a break between sentences. Slow down your thoughts and take a pause or a breath instead of using this placeholder word.
I hope you don’t mind… – This phrase is similar to “sorry”. Once again, you’re apologizing for your thoughts. Scrap that phrase and dive into what you have to say. You are worth listening to.
I’m not an expert by any means… – Yes, you are! You are THE expert. That’s why you’re in the room.
I feel… – Talking about your feelings is great for your relationships at home, but in this circumstance, saying how you feel versus speaking your mind degrades your credibility.
This is just going to take a minute – You deserve their time and attention. If it takes a minute or an hour, you came there to offer your expertise. Don’t apologize for your excellence.
Also, consider the rise of inflection at the end of a sentence. Not to pick on millennials, but this is a common issue among the younger generation. When your pitch rises at the end of a sentence, it signals that you are asking a question and are unsure about the topic you are discussing. A good way to check your speech patterns is to record your side of a phone conversation or ask your peers to listen for rise of inflection in your voice. Habits can be tough to break, but practice around your peers and be aware of inflection when you are speaking to clients.
The bottom line is if you have an idea or a suggestion to bring to the table, don’t apologize for it. If you’re meeting with a client, remember: YOU are the expert. That’s why you’re in the room in the first place. Add a little swagger to your presentations and speak clearly and concisely with confidence. You can’t get what you want without asking for it, so put yourself out there without any apologies.