How to Literally Walk the Walk

Whether you are strolling into a boardroom before a make-or-break presentation or making your way around a networking event, your walk is important and can reveal a lot about you. Think, for example, how differently you imagine the walk of a free-spirited hippie than that of a 300-pound wrestler, or that wrestler’s walk compared to that of a museum curator or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. At this stage in our young professional (YP) lives, we all know how to talk the talk (or are at least learning), but with that we must also walk the walk (even in sky-high heels), and the ability to master a confident walk is essential. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Perfect your posture
Walk with posture; don’t slouch. Nothing will put you in a lower status relative your company and give off vibes of insecurity than slouching, whether in a professional setting or on a date. Instead, stand tall and walk with your chin high (but not too high as to give off a snobby vibe that nobody has time for). Focus on pushing your shoulders down and back as far as possible when standing, walking, and even sitting at your desk for practice. Heavy shoulder bags (especially if you’re the type to lug your laptop around 24/7) can cause you to unknowingly slouch to one side, so keep the weight as light as possible at networking events – or ditch the bag at coat check altogether.

Watch your step, but don’t look down
Although it is easier said than done, keep your eyes level. This may get tricky when long dresses and high heels are involved (especially on staircases), but try your best while still watching your step, as it is difficult for even the most confident to recover from falling on their face. Looking down too much says you are not confident, or are shy and don’t want to interact or engage with others – and nobody wants to do business with that person. Remember: chin up, head level and eyes forward.

Keep your hands free
Keep your hands out of your pockets if you want to convey a message of confidence. Not only do hands in the pocket give off a more casual and relaxed vibe (not always ideal in business settings), but it also makes you look uncomfortable, unsure of yourself and even nervous. By the same token, keeping your hands folded across your chest makes you appear unimpressed or closed off. Keeping your hands exposed also shows that you have nothing to hide. If you must do something with your hands, keep them on your hips or grab a drink or bottle of water.

Get out of the way
Be aware of your physical surroundings and the others around you. This is as much the case at crowded networking events and charity functions as it is on busy sidewalks. Watch where you are going to avoid bumping into others and spilling a drink on one or both of you, be mindful of your pace, and others behind you – nobody likes a slow walker who assumes that the world around them must move at their own annoyingly leisurely pace.

It’s all in the stride
If you want to show confidence, take large, purposeful steps. Don’t walk too slowly; a slower walk conveys more of a lackadaisical mood and heavy internal dialogue. A brisk walk, on the other hand, conveys a message of confidence and purpose; you have places to be, after all. Timid, quiet, small steps are more characteristic of an unassuming person with a low confidence level. Whatever the case, remember the difference between a stride and a strut, with the latter a little too egotistical for the office and to be saved for the nightclub.

Be good to your feet
Of course, the last thing you want your walk to look is awkward or clumsy thanks to uncomfortable footwear. If you have a full day at the office followed by an industry event, it is more important to be comfortable in sensible footwear than to be distracted from a conversation by throbbing toes, forming blisters and a painfully awkward walk that definitely draws attention to you… and not the type you were hoping for.


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