We are judged at all times! I know a businessman that is very bright and moderately successful, he drives a very nice car but his personal presentation leaves questions in my mind.  He shaves but seems to miss entire areas of his face; his clothing is of good quality but rather old and often wrinkled and sweat stained. The overall impression is so completely opposite to how he writes and speaks that I am left wondering and it holds me back from doing business. Do others feel the same?

Whether you’re selling your business or yourself we are judged at all times by everyone. Judged for good, bad or indifferent.  Although we expect that our closest friends and family accept us as we are – and I am sure they do – they also judge us!

If you are not getting the business, the job or any opportunity you want it is best to make sure you’re actually covering all the basics! Everything about us speaks volumes to others. The way we dress, the way we drive, what we eat at lunchtime, what we drink and how we drink it, our handshake, the very way we walk into a room.

There are lots of people who feel that the package does not matter and perhaps it shouldn’t but we all look for clues. To determine the type of person we are dealing with when we meet a stranger in business it certainly makes sense to evaluate them based on grooming, dress, professional demeanor, vocabulary and more. These things do not tell the whole story but presentation is reflective of what is important to a person.

Getting what we want from other people requires that they see us in a way that gives them confidence in who we are. The more effort we put into projecting a positive image that reinforces our goals the more likely people will want to deal with us.

Cultivate a smile

A great smile relaxes all around us and gives everyone the impression of calm and confidence. It actually does more than that; a smile actually makes us feel more calm and confident about ourselves. A sincere smile comes from the heart but there is much more to giving the right impression. Do you have a great smile? Well, the best way is to ask others. Many people develop habits over the years that result in crooked smiles that look insincere or give the wrong impression. It is best to ask a friend; one whom we know will give us some honest advice .

A confident handshake

Nothing is worse than a limp, sweaty handshake. Always offer your hand first and announce your name, speak clearly. This shows confidence, friendliness and assertiveness. Look in the eyes of the person and repeat their name back to them. We like hearing our own name and this also helps us to remember the person we have just met. The effective handshake is firm without squeezing and should normally last two or three seconds. Don’t rush the handshake, if you treat it as something important then you will convey to the other person that they are important. Shaking hands is a ritual – treat it that way and people will remember you!

Project energy and confidence

Make certain there is always a spring in your walk. Put energy and an expectation of a positive outcome into each and every step.  Have you every noticed how actors walk across the stage in live theatre performances? There is a positive intention into each and every step – this is not accident – actors study the Alexander Technique to instill power, purpose and elegance into each and every movement. Think about how you move! The goal is not hurried, slow, beaten down, but rather bright, fresh, alive and enthusiastic.

Develop a style that gets your noticed

Tasteful, formal, civilized, sophisticated, elegant, refined and discerning!  That’s the goal in business – classic and well done. Choose one look and get known for it. Buy the best that you can afford. Never wear anything tight – loose clothes speak of quality, tight of poverty. Not too loose, however, baggy close with make you look weak and lacking in confidence. Less is always more!  Where make-up that suits you and stay with one look – it is about developing a personal brand.  If in doubt dress up rather than down and watch the details – there is never an excuse to be less than fresh, pressed and shoes shined.

Personal grooming is essential.

Each and every morning make certain that you check your personal details.  Five minutes preparing your clothes for the next day will ensure that everything is ready and that you don’t end up running out the door with dirty shoes or a stained necktie.

  • Shoes shined and in good repair
  • Clothes pressed with no missing buttons
  • Freshly showered (deodorant)
  • Clean hair – well cut and styled
  • Men shaved – Shave twice to ensure a smooth face
  • Women made up – elegant, consistent and perfect
  • Nails clean, cut and manicured (if you bite your nails – stop it!)
  • Clean hands
  • Don’t smell of cigarette smoke or food
  • Keep your teeth clean and as white as possible
  • Fresh breathe
  • Nose and ear hair removed (it just looks bad)
  • If you wear glasses make sure they fit, are very clean and in good repair

Take care of the details and then forget it – don’t fuss with your looks in public! When you do visit the washroom take fifteen seconds in front of the mirror to make sure you’ve still in one piece. If you tend to work a long days or attend evening networking events keep a kit of basics at the office to refresh your look. A quick shave and some hair gel will make a big difference in how you look and feel.

Be attractive

It is a well-researched fact that the better-looking people have an easier go of life.  They have to work less hard to succeed. But what makes us good-looking? It is not about having classic good looks – most movie stars don’t! Good looks are really about energy, presence, drama, power and personality. Posture is much of this; if you slouch you look, lazy and depressed. Your walk should be erect, proud and unafraid. Look people in the eyes and don’t look at the ground – your dreams are not there!  Your grooming must be perfect, your style classic, and your presentation splendid and outstanding. Get things fixed – warts, bad breath, poor eyesight (squinting is not attractive), yellow or bad teeth – we all know the amazing results that a little care, a trip to the dentist or dermatologist can achieve!

Regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, enough sleep and plenty of water will make you look and feel younger and more energetic. Just do it!

Speak well

Too many people mumble, speak too quietly, speak too loudly and just generally lose the message.  The goal of language is to be understood by everyone. Avoid jargon, slang and abbreviations.  The initials ‘C.I.M.’ that will mean different things to different people and may mean nothing to some – why risk it?  Speak simply and always speak to the person farthest away from you so that everyone will hear. Make sure your voice and language is positive, bright, clear and simple.

Write well

When you are writing for others to read make sure you are always crystal clear in meaning using examples if appropriate. If you do not have attractive handwriting use a computer. Use one, easy to read font and leave smiles and funny shapes out of all business correspondence (really!). I know a man who used all kinds of emoticons, symbols and strange shapes in his emails and updates on LinkedIn. I guess he thought he was clever – I thought him silly. Remember your goal is to convey information or an idea – be concise, simple and clear. Take care when sending emails and text, especially on mobile telephones. Don’t be sloppy!

Sales preparation

A salesperson should never visit a client without all of the tools and information required.  Some salespeople go to meetings and not even have a pen or a price list. Every sales visit should be planed and the salesperson should have all of the tools on hand.  If driving a car, the fuel should always be over the half-filled mark. You should always have enough cash on hand for entertainment or minor emergencies. In other words, plan, anticipate and prepare.


Most of the above applies to those who work in telephone sales as well. Dress unprofessional and you won’t be ready for that chance meeting that could change your career and don’t think that your boss doesn’t notice or care.  If you show that you care about your job you’re much more likely to keep it when times are tough. When you do work the phone your voice and attention to detail really do count! Work on putting as much attention and energy into each call as possible.  Many top telephone performers have a mirror on the desk to help them maintain energy. When it comes to mobile telephone use it is best to be careful – mobile phones are not secure, as many politicians have painfully learned.

Sure, I know all of this seems like a lot to do and to remember but with a bit of preparation, practice and routine it can become as easy and as mindless as what you are doing now! Better presentation can make a huge difference in your career and personal life!

Good habits are simply acquired – just like bad habits!



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