Earlier this year, I spoke at the Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES), one of my favorite membership organizations in Washington, DC. My topic was “The Power of Authenticity in Sales”.
One table in the room was full of young professionals hired right out of college for their first sales position. They loved the program and were eager to get in front of prospects to implement what they had learned (and yes, we told them to sit apart next time so they could practice their networking skills!).
Many of our clients are telling us how challenging it’s been to onboard young professionals who’ve spent a good portion of their college years at home due to the pandemic. Similarly, the majority of those who’ve entered the workforce over the last two years have never physically worked in an office environment.
Taking the time to nurture the communication skills of your new hires is an investment in your organization’s long-term health. Here are five communication tips to share with young professionals on your team.
1. Understand that how you dress is a form of communication.
While the pandemic has changed how people approach attire in the workplace, the clothes you wear to work convey your professionalism and represent your personal brand. I recently covered this topic in an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “The New Rules of Work Clothes”. In this article, I share tips for finding appropriate business attire that balances comfort, confidence, and authenticity—as well as some guidelines so you don’t misjudge the dress code.
2. Learn how to introduce yourself in one minute or less.
Regardless of your job function, you’ll undoubtedly need to introduce yourself to others. Take advantage of the opportunity to make a powerful first impression by knowing how to concisely and purposefully introduce yourself. When we teach networking, we ask people to stop thinking about their elevator pitch and start thinking about their one-sentence introduction.
3. Use mental rehearsal to manage communication anxiety.
Even the most experienced professionals deal with nerves before speaking in public. Using the technique of mental rehearsal before a difficult conversation, presentation, or important meeting can help you manage your anxiety to ensure a powerful and positive outcome.
4. Know how and when to speak up in a meeting.
Speaking up in a meeting is an effective way to raise your visibility, especially when done strategically. Conversely, it’s important to know when to hold back. Challenge yourself to speak up at your next meeting by preparing meaningful comments or questions in advance. You can access more meeting strategies in my Harvard Business Review article, “How to Speak Up in a Meeting, and When to Hold Back”.
5. Practice public speaking every day.
Public speaking isn’t just standing on a large stage with a microphone—we define it as anytime you speak with an audience of one person or more. Leverage regular interactions with clients or coworkers to practice your speaking skills and build your confidence for high-stake business meetings and presentations. Our Everyday Public Speaking Workbook will help guide you through the process.
These tips for young professionals, along with communication training at all levels of an organization, will help with onboarding, engagement, and retention. Make them part of your company culture and they will pay dividends for you and your team.
If you find these monthly public speaking tips helpful, subscribe to Allison’s YouTube Channel for access to dozens of practical learning videos to take your communication skills to the next level.