Presenting Your Best Self: From Entry-Level to Executive

Presenting Your Best Self: running a meeting with confidence, from entry-level to executive…

Whether you’re working for a Fortune 500 company, a rag-tag start-up, or a grassroots non-profit, there’s always going to be someone (or multiple people) that you’re going to want to impress. Apart from doing what you’re told, showing up on time, and ironing your clothes, the best way to show these people why you were hired in the first place is to put to your best foot forward when you’re presenting in front of them.


If I’m ever not feeling up to the challenge of preparing a speech, I like to re-watch some of my favorite, awe-inspiring TED talks. When it comes to public speaking, some of the greatest lessons you’ll learn are from watching other people present, and learning to pick up on things like pacing, inflection, and gestures. Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk on women in the workplace is the perfect place to start:


When giving a presentation, what you say and how you say it are the two things that you actually can control, so make sure you’re flawless. Whether it’s practicing in front of a mirror, writing your points on notecards, or praying to the heavens that you don’t stumble on words like “throughput,” do whatever it takes to be able to speak eloquently and efficiently about the ins and outs of your subject matter.


If it helps to prove your point, don’t be afraid to use what your God gave you. (Not your body parts, but your shining personality and knack for self-deprecating humor). Especially if you’re speaking about what you’ve learned throughout your work experience, don’t be afraid to say how lucky you feel, and speak genuinely about how much an experience has impacted you…even if that experience happened to be the time when the drivers at the distribution center you visited tried to ask you out to dinner. LOL, RIGHT?


In order to illustrate your true value, you have to be able to quantify what you do on a day-to-day basis into dollars and cents. Your VP will only listen to you talk about slaving away on spreadsheets if there’s a dollar-sign at the end of that story. Be able to prove that your initiatives will save a good chunk of money or time, and all because you’re the right person to see this progress through.


The previous four points are really just an elaborate way of saying “be yourself.” The reason you were hired is because someone saw something in you. Whether it was your point of view, your personality, or your impeccable taste in fashion, you have to take pride in the fact that it was you, and only you, who got yourself to the place you’re at now. Trust yourself, trust your ideas, and trust your perspective on why your work matters.

Yours truly in practical workplace heels…


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  • Reply July 23, 2012


    I have a presentation this week and this advice is very helpful! Thanks! I think having faith in yourself is extremely important but is the first to be put on the back burner.

  • Reply July 23, 2012


    This is a great posting since we’re trying to work our way up the ladder. Higher level execs may dismiss us entry level kids, but the truth is we are the future;) I liked your post, Priya, because I think “Giving meaning to your work” is one of the most important (well, they all are…) ..but it starts with the cover letter- otherwise you’ll just get dismissed.

    And I’m going to take notes, and of course as you could assume….that I would do it in less practical, high heels:)