Ways to Impress Your Boss in Under 60 Seconds
Work + Life Balance

Ways to Impress Your Boss in Under 60 Seconds

by Kaitlin King
Photos Diana Zapata | February 24, 2016

HERE'S A NOT-SO-SECRET FOR YOU: EVERYONE HAS PROBLEMS.

Your business exists to solve someone’s problems. You were hired to help solve some of these problems. So was your boss. One of the best ways to show your boss you’re their favorite hire? Demonstrate you’re part of solving a problem. 

The first 60 seconds of any professional interaction—email, presentation, meeting, etc.—is a prime moment for establishing your credibility and revealing value. Those few, precious moments are like a fresh chance. It’s right then that you get to make a first impression all over again. And that's exactly why you should approach every interaction with purpose, right from the beginning.

When I think of a professional woman’s relationship with her boss, I always recall my first exposure to that dynamic (and it’s a bit confessional). It was through a scene from How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, when Kate Hudson’s Andie Anderson has a run-in with her editor, Lana. 

The first 60 seconds of any professional interaction—email, presentation, meeting, etc.—is a prime moment for establishing your credibility and revealing value. 

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about: in an editorial meeting, when all the magazine writers are discussing topics to cover, Andie’s coworker/friend finds herself threatened with an article about her recently failed relationship. Andie simultaneously saves the pal and impresses her boss by pitching her own dating fail story for her column (I’ll let you guess what it’s about), thereby keeping her friend’s romantic let-down off the front cover. 

Her boss is enthusiastic, her friend is relieved, and Andie? She’s solved both of their problems at once—all of this in under 50 seconds. 

Here are some practical ways you can channel her style and work a minute of your boss’s time to your ultimate advantage. The trick is thinking in reverse: solutions first, problems second. 

EMAIL

In an email, that first impression comes from a compelling subject line and a straight-to-the-point opening paragraph.

Subject lines should always include solutions so that before your boss even opens the note, they have a sense of progress or resolve. 

For example, instead of writing “Internal Issue,” approach the topic with solution-oriented language, like, “Opportunity to Improve Internal Issue.”

Likewise, when you write your intro paragraph, focus on the desired outcome of the email first. Then break down what’s happened and how you’ll fix any problems.

PRESENTATION

In a presentation, your first minute is the best opportunity to earn your boss’ attention. {Click to Tweet} Nothing gets people sidetracked faster than when you give them a laundry list agenda on the first slide.

Get creative instead: start with an interesting quote, share a relevant story, disclose a surprising statistic, or ask a powerful rhetorical question. Once you’ve got a conversation going inside your boss’ head, help her turn it into an open and closed dialogue by outlining the powerful outcomes you can bring to the project. 

Reminding your team and your boss of the larger goal at hand can refocus the group and show your boss that you’re satisfying a need.

MEETING

Most of us have weekly touch-point meetings where we update our team on what we’ve been working on. It’s easy to focus on the here-and-now (“On Monday I did this, and on Tuesday I did this…”), mostly because that’s the most people expect of you in this context. But it’s the perfect time for you to stand out: practice connecting your in-progress items to bigger picture resolutions. Instead of saying, “The report for our client is almost done,” add, “The report for our client that will reveal their digital IQ for our strategy meeting with them will be done by tomorrow at noon.”

Reminding your team and your boss of the larger goal at hand can refocus the group and show your boss that you’re satisfying a need.

Use these key concepts to help solve your boss’ problem, and you never know—he or she might be talking you up at the next Frost Yourself Ball to Matthew McConaughey.

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How have you impressed your boss in the past? 

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