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How to speak to executives

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Executives are people just like you, and they appreciate being spoken to as you would a colleague. It’s time to shed your nervousness and realize that’s going to be you someday! Keep these tips in mind:

Loosen up. In a meeting with execs, your nerves may cause you to stiffen up and keep a serious, blank face, but that also makes you inauthentic. Let your body be at ease and use natural facial expressions. You can be professional and let your personality show through.

Avoid jokes as a way to relieve the tension. If you’re nervous you might be tempted to crack a joke; but unless the others are ready to be in a jovial mood, that could backfire and put unwanted attention on you.

Skip the jargon. You might be tempted to use big words to prove you know your stuff, but it’s better to stick with normal conversation. Speak in a straightforward manner so you don’t seem like you’re trying to sound smart.

Speak up and ask questions. Asking a question doesn’t flag you as a novice; it shows you’re interested and have ideas. Senior leaders tend to love hearing questions from younger workers because you have perspectives they may not.

— Adapted from “The Only 4 Speaking Tips You Need When You’re The Youngest One In The Room,” Anett Grant, Fast Company.

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