Being polished

Specifically in your career when working with those in your office or with a client, how do you come off as more polished? I want to cut out filler words such as "like" and "Um", make sure I'm giving off strong body language at all times, more concise word choice, etc. is it just a matter of practice or did you consciously focus on improving yourself in this way?

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Comments (20)

Jan 17, 2022 - 5:39am
RecklesslyNervous, what's your opinion? Comment below:


Personally, I try to spend more time with the more "polished" friends of mine, so I could observe and learn from them.

It also helps to "think before I say" - to rehearse a sentence in my mind before I say it - doesn't take long, but helps me to avoid the "um" and "well" etc.

Also, exercises help me to look more polished by improving my posture and making me energized.

TBH, I think the most important thing is to have confidence, which is hard to build up lol.

Jan 17, 2022 - 1:27pm
K-Peezy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It also helps to "think before I say" - to rehearse a sentence in my mind before I say it - doesn't take long, but helps me to avoid the "um" and "well" etc.

Also, exercises help me to look more polished by improving my posture and making me energized.

TBH, I think the most important thing is to have confidence, which is hard to build up lol.

All the points you just laid out are exactly how you can build up some base level confidence. Sure, you're not coming out swinging for home-runs, but if you can start consistently hitting in-field doubles off a base like this? That's value that's way too overlooked.

Additionally, all those points you made are exactly how you win respect in meetings with clients and seniors (or that sexy lady eyeing you at the bar). Your advice is +SB material all day and I wish was taught during onboarding for any interns and SAs so they can start off stronger.

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Jan 17, 2022 - 6:40am
TaoShimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey, nice question.

Personally I find it very useful to actively try to speak slower: gives you more time to think what exactly you are trying to say, makes you come up as more confident and makes it easier for the listener to fully grasp and understand what you mean.

Second, (probably easier for college students) active participation in public speaking activities (I.e. being a president of some society, frequent presentations in front of a large audience, debate teams etc) works miracles for your way of speaking.

Third, read high quality books, not only do they enrich your vocabulary but also make you familiar with well crafted types of sentences.

Fourth, get accustomed to speaking with more senior professionals, at some point you will start picking up they way they speak and it will become a natural part of your speech as well :)

Most Helpful
Jan 17, 2022 - 9:56am
CompBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Polished communication is difficult to achieve. One tip when explaining things: try to give the big picture first before going into details. Structure is incredibly important for providing clear explanations. I think a good way to practice would be to explain the rules to a board game, a drinking game, a card game, whatever. Pretend the other person knows nothing and anticipate the types of questions someone might ask. If you can give a solid description that leaves the other person with only a few questions, you've done a very good job. I see way too many people jump right into the detail without first 'setting the stage' for the listener.

Mentorship with CompBanker:

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Jan 17, 2022 - 1:31pm
K-Peezy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One exercise we used was to partner up with someone, blindfold them, and then talk them through how to draw a semi-complex shape step by step without being able to see. Definitely had to do what you mentioned about setting the stage before jumping into detailed step-by-step instruction or as we learned from Southpark teaching skiing, "you're going to have a bad time."

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Jan 17, 2022 - 1:07pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The key to effective communication is knowing if the other person is really keeping up with you. Some people will say 'yeah' when their body cues are saying 'I don't care' or 'I don't understand.'

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 17, 2022 - 5:07pm
2rigged2fail, what's your opinion? Comment below:

record yourself. canned or off the cuff. video > find your disfluency > refine > video > refine > video. best feedback.

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Jan 17, 2022 - 9:33pm
Dwight-Schrute, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One recommendation that helped me improve my "polish" is to read literature from my favorite authors aloud.

Find writers you believe have a way with words and would like to emulate in conversation. Read an excerpt (doesn't need to be more than a page) from one of their works aloud and listen for word choice, sentence structure, and storytelling you like and incorporate one of the words or patterns into a conversation the next day.

It is an approachable task that only takes a few minutes and builds over time.Β 

Jan 17, 2022 - 11:48pm
wallstreet155, what's your opinion? Comment below:

would appreciate any reccs!

Jan 17, 2022 - 11:32pm
Max6655, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Usually I punch the other person in the face to assert dominance as a tier 1 hardo.

But in all seriousness don't underestimate the power of silence and talking slowly. For instance if you ask a question don't panic if they aren't answering you. Stay silent until they respond. And remember the more you talk the more opportunities to make a mistake, the more you listen the more opportunities you have to gain.

Jan 18, 2022 - 7:22pm
jarstar1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's very important to be comfortable with silence, and very few people are. It comes up most frequently in interviews, you're nervous so you answer the question in the proper 25 seconds, but the interviewer doesn't respond immediately so you freak out and just keep going, rambling and not making any real coherent sense. It takes a lot of willpower to say your piece and sit back while the other person processes it, the silence is going to be uncomfortable, but the more you get used to it the more you can handle it.Β 

My father got his masters in social work, and he said he had one professor who walked in, asked a student a simple question, then didn't talk at all. The student answered, and faced with silence just kept going. With the knowledge it can be a very useful tool to use, especially for a social worker getting someone to open up, but in business as well. People love filling silences, and they often fill it with stuff that they would never normally talk about, a few simple questions can get someone to go on and on, revealing a lot about themselves or whatever they are thinking about.Β 

Jan 18, 2022 - 8:54am
Addinator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A few things that have helped me over my career:Β 

- Write down what you are going to say or talk about. Could be bullet points or could be lengthier doesn't really matter. Writing can often make something that sounds great in your head sound way too complicated, dense, etc. Often if it takes you, say, 10 points you can probably cut it in half and still get the point across.Β 

- Structure what you are going to say and plan it out. For presentations it could be having 1 key item on a slide (no more than three, certainly) and building your talking points around it. Being concise, clear and to the point is crucial. If you are hosting or you called a meeting - be prepared up front to outline what is being discussed, who all is in the room (maybe why if that matters) and then what the objectives are.Β 

- Be honest. The quickest way to get yourself into trouble is try and BS your way through something, especially with a client. Say "That's a very good question, let me check and I will get back to you by the end of the day" - or whatever is similar.Β 

- Check your ego at the door especially when you are co-presenting or in aΒ  meeting with colleagues. Be deferential - not false modesty, but if someone who knows the answer is better suited, tee them up. Oh - and if you are presenting with them - please, for the love of god, practice beforehand. Many people think it's beneath them or somehow proves them more capable if they don't... they are wrong.Β 

- Know your audience. Be careful with this one as it doesn't mean having 12 different demeanors or trying to pander to specific people. It is far more about knowing what to, and not to, emphasize. Some people respond well to details - others can't be bothered, and simply want the cliff notes or decision points. This is more about subtle tweaks or framing than it is entire overhauls in most cases.Β 

- Become OK with silence. This one is absolutely impossible for me to do personally, but it's so important. After you deliver a few points, simply let it sit there. Maybe ask if anyone has any questions - and then let it sit. If someone does have a question, listen to it. Don't answer half way through - let them finish, thank them for the question and then proceed to answer it.Β 

The above goes the other way as well. Be patient and allow people to speak. Listen to them. Think about what they are actually saying and, maybe, pause before answering the question.

- Come with solutions, or a strategy to get to a solution, prepared - and alter it as needed. As my boss always told me if I come with a problem - it's part of my job to fix it, whether it was mine or not. That doesn't always mean you are the one to literally fix it but simply being proactive, and thoughtful, will help.Β 

I could keep droning on - some of these are probably common sense, but you'd be surprised if you start doing a toastmasters, professional coaching/training, etc. how often you violate all of these. If you asked me to be purely concise - take your work seriously, outline your objectives for whatever the interaction is, maintain an appropriate level of empathy, value your colleagues/clients and practice being clear/concise.Β 

Jan 18, 2022 - 10:59pm
curiousprime, what's your opinion? Comment below:

+1 to talk slowly. Also become comfortable taking occasional pauses while talking to think about what you're about to say through/gather your thoughts.

Jan 19, 2022 - 11:06am
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Avoid social media.Β 

This is a good question and the above is my best answer. If you are willing to accept that reading more books will help your vocabulary (and it does!) then you should also look to avoid poor sources of English/vocabulary. Social media is basically where the decline of the English language (and other languages) is happening. Avoiding anything you see on social media (written or spoken) is also a pretty good way to get to a "base" level of polish.Β 

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Jan 19, 2022 - 9:21pm
GramReaper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It all comes down to practice (yes, we're talking about practice).

A great place to start is with your presentations and client calls. One of the most overlooked aspects of presentations is the control you have over the audience; you determine what material is presented and in what order, you control the narrative. For each slide, make sure you know what the desired intent of the slide is, present the bottom line up front and transition to the supporting details. One you have that set, put yourself in the audience position and determine what the most likely questions are that will be asked and make sure you have thoughtful answers (a big flaw I see with juniors is that they stumbled through the Q&A period because they didn't have time to anticipate the second step).

When you think you have a good idea of the content and questions, think about your transitions (not just slides but also points within each slide), are they smooth, do they feel natural? What about your word

choice, any redundancies? How about speed, did you rush? This process can build a great foundation for you to build upon as you continue to present. Another small thing you can do is watch others, both at your level and above - determine what you like about their styles and see how you can incorporate into your own. Not everything will work for you but some might.

Jan 29, 2022 - 9:18am
TheBuellerBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Simple things such as eliminating slag, listening more than speaking, and being more deliberate in your speech rather than rambling etc are low-hanging fruit relatively speaking.

Jan 29, 2022 - 1:26pm
Whatever1984, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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