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The conference was to start. There was a large audience with differing backgrounds and lengths of professional experience- there were many nominee executives from various organizations as also many eager young students.

” I am not the best person to speak of this” began the first speaker. Instinctively I thought to myself. “Then why are you here?” . I am sure many others in the audience got the same thought. The speaker was being self deprecating, even though , as things turned out, he did know a lot about his subject.

By being self deprecating, we run ourselves down. We come across as being more incompetent or humble than we are- or ought to be. Samuel Johnson cautions us against self deprecating: ” A man should be careful never to tell tales of himself to his own disadvantage. People may be amused and laugh at the time, but they will be remembered, and brought out against him upon some subsequent occasion”.

In some cultures, the very way of speaking and the choice of words is self deprecating: How often have you heard people say:  “It wasn’t too much at all. I was just doing my job”;  “I haven’t spoken to so many people before, but let me try”; or ” I am new here but…”

In today’s world when everyone is in a tearing hurry to get on with their work, you don’t get too much of time or too many chances to make a good impression. As we often say ” You never get the second chance to make a first impression”.

Be positive and sound positive. Make people sit up and take notice when you speak. Make that first impression count.

Don’t be self deprecating.

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This is the 168 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success