Create a Workplace Culture that Fosters Executive Presence

Developing Executive Presence is a personal journey. After all, Executive Presence reflects an individual’s self-presentation, conduct, attitude and reputation.

However, environment can have a great effect on Executive Presence as well. In order to encourage your employees to recognize and improve their own Executive Presence, as a leader in your company you can aim to create a workplace culture that fosters Executive Presence.

The more that your employees are aware of and committed to developing their own Executive Presence, the better your company’s image will be. The behaviour of your employees will reflect positively on your organization, allowing it to maintain a great reputation and make excellent first impressions on outside clients and partners. This can only lead to success for your company.

How can you promote Executive Presence as part of your workplace culture?

  • If you lead, others will follow.
    Staff members often follow the lead that management-level employees establish. For example, if the boss is consistently late, certain employees may begin to believe that this is acceptable behaviour in the company.As a leader, you can inspire staff to develop their Executive Presence by exhibiting it yourself. Set positive standards by demonstrating composure under pressure, maintaining an excellent reputation, communicating effectively, keeping a polished professional image, and other qualities that are included in the three pillars of Executive Presence.
  • Be clear about dress policy.
    You do not need to be aggressive about enforcing rules, but a clear and consistent policy for the dress code will allow professional image to be the norm in your office culture.Especially for organizations that uphold a “business casual” dress code, lack of a clear policy can lead to image and attire slipping farther and farther away from professional standards. A defined policy – and adhering to that policy – will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Foster good communication among employees.
    Communication is one of the key pillars of Executive Presence. Therefore it is essential that your employees can communicate well with each other and with external contacts.To ensure this in your office, it is important once again that you set the tone by demonstrating good standards. Maintain a good rapport with your employees, position yourself as friendly and approachable, and establish clear and preferred channels of communication. To encourage your staff to communicate well with one another, promote team-building activities that will establish trust among staff.
  • Invite staff to participate in Executive Presence Lunch and Learns.

There is no better way to foster Executive Presence than by providing your employees the opportunity to learn about it firsthand. A Lunch and Learn is an excellent context to do so: it is a learning opportunity that is effective and does not require staff to give up too much time out of their days.

Our Lunch and Learn series on the Executive Presence System is a series of interactive workshops formulated to develop Executive Presence. These fast-paced 60 to 90 minute sessions encourage participants to play an active role throughout the process, ensuring that participants are engaged during the entire session.

Remember that Executive Presence can benefit not only an individual, but also a company as a whole. How does your workplace culture encourage Executive Presence?

 

 

Five Reasons Why You Need an Image Consultant

Business group portraitEvery so often, it is useful to take a good, long look in the mirror and to ask ourselves whether our image needs an update. However, this can be a daunting task to undertake all on one’s own – especially if we cannot pinpoint exactly how to go about revising a “look.”

This is a great opportunity to enlist an image consultant for assistance. An image consultant can help you to identify the elements of your image in need of improvement, and can give you the tools to care for and improve your image in the future.

Here are five issues you might identify with your image – and five great reasons why you might need to hire an image consultant.

  • My attire doesn’t feel appropriate for my workplace.
    Perhaps you have just started a new position in an office with a different corporate culture than your previous workplace. Or, you may have climbed the corporate ladder to a higher-level position. Whatever the reason, it can be uncomfortable to feel like your wardrobe does not adhere to your workplace standards.

    An image consultant can help you to find wardrobe pieces that fit within your office culture, and can also indicate for which occasions you should dress up a notch. She or he can also identify pieces that can easily transition between business casual and business attire.

  • My clothes don’t seem to fit right.
    No matter how put-together an outfit may look, if it does not fit appropriately on your body it simply will not look professional. Cut and fit matter as much as colour, style and coordination.

    An image consultant not only can help you to find pieces that fit properly, but also can identify which styles and cuts can be the most flattering for your body type. After all, feeling comfortable and confident in clothing contributes to overall presence.

  • I can’t determine which colours match or which colours go best with my skin tone.
    Clothing colour makes a huge difference in your attire. Clothing colour can project a bold or muted statement, and mismatched colours can send the wrong impression. In addition, clothing colour can be highly personalized: each skin tone matches a unique and individual colour palette.

    While it can be difficult to zero in on which colours match your skin tone and personality, the highly trained eye of an image consultant can help you to locate a palette that speaks to your personality and complements your skin and hair.

  • My hair and makeup need a retouch.
    Did you know that wearing makeup could make you appear more competent? According to a Proctor & Gamble study, makeup increases perceptions of a woman’s likability, competence and trustworthiness in the workplace. Of course, too much makeup can have the opposite effect, so there is a fine line between looking presentable and looking over-the-top.

    An image consultant can help you to locate the tools and techniques for office-ready makeup, and can also advise on grooming to ensure that you project a polished look.

  • I have trouble adjusting my wardrobe for the seasons.
    Here in Toronto, we go between extremes when the seasons change – from blazing heat in the summer to sub-zero temperatures in the winter. Of course, for each season we need an entirely different wardrobe to dress appropriately for the weather.

    An image consultant can help you find clothing choices that not only will accommodate the fluctuating temperatures, but also will look professional for work life. From finding an appropriate length and cut of dress in the summer, to finding hearty yet well-tailored winter gear, an image consultant can advise on any season.

At Corporate Class Inc., we offer Personal Image Enhancement for men and women as half-day, full-day or two-day trainings, as well as individual consultations. Contact us today to learn more about our programs.

For an inside look on the image consulting process that our clients experience, click here for the blog series A Personal Journey. In this 10-part series, we observe Liz, a young Corporate Class Inc. client, on her personal journey through our image enhancement programme to her ultimate destination: developing her own look of success.

 

Why New Hires Need Business Etiquette – and How They Can Get It

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The transition between university life and a professional workplace isn’t always seamless. Adjusting to a major shift in workplace culture, protocol and dress takes time and effort. That said, with training, seminars and resources, recent graduates and new hires can be well equipped to jump right in to a professional environment –and your company can help them to do so.


Why do new hires need business etiquette?

For those who have been working professionally for years, many aspects of professional life come as second nature. But for those just entering the workforce, certain protocol can be new territory. Notable examples:


Dining Etiquette

When dining for business, there are many more guidelines to follow that simply dining with family or friends, at home or in a restaurant.

Business dining often takes place in a more formal setting, which requires know-how of more extensive table settings and flatware as well as behaviour.

Additionally, the question of alcohol may come up, in which case it is not always obvious to a new hire that alcoholic drinks should only be ordered if the host encourages the order, and if so, no more than one alcoholic drink should be consumed in a business context.

Finally, keeping good conversation going throughout the meal is an art in and of itself. The savvy diner will not engage in controversial discussion, and will discuss business matters only when it seems appropriate to do so.


Interview Etiquette

Before a young person is even a “new hire,” they’ve got to get the job first! No matter how impressive a resume may be, poor interview etiquette may detract from a candidate’s chances of landing a job.

Punctuality is absolutely essential for a job interview – even if a candidate is only 5 minutes late, many employers will simply write off that opportunity. That said, a fine balance is necessary; in other words, getting to an interview too early can be awkward, especially in small companies. Arriving approximately 10 minutes in advance is a safe bet.

A handwritten thank-you note after an interview is indispensible. Coming prepared with other hard-copy materials is also helpful as well; for example, a copy of a resume and cover letter for each staff member conducting the interview, and a business card or reference letter if applicable.


Professional Dress
The expectation for professional dress and image, even in business casual settings, can be vastly different than on a university campus. It can help new hires immensely to have the dress code outlined right at the start of employment and to have an idea of the differences between business formal, business and business casual dress codes.

How can new hires acquire business etiquette?

New hires can learn the basics of business etiquette and professional image right in your company.

By engaging new hires in etiquette training, ranging anywhere from a full-day seminar to a one-hour Lunch and Learn session, your company will help young professionals become accustomed to new protocol. Additionally, this can help your company is well – with etiquette training as soon as they begin their positions, your newest employees will be able to represent your company’s brand well and will be trusted to interface professionally with your company’s partners and clients.

Young professionals can also acquire business etiquette training during their degrees; undergraduate commerce degrees and MBA programs now often require an etiquette component before graduation. If you work in a university or career counseling setting, consider offering business protocol training to all undergraduate students – because good business etiquette is relevant for any professional!

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For those interested in our etiquette training services, here are two testimonials that may be of interest:

#1 Dear Diane,

Thank you for sharing the link to the dining video. I find it impressive that it covers how one should behave when he is the host or the guest, as well as how to manage gratuities.

I would like to also thank you very much for yesterday’s session. It was extremely useful and I feel that I learnt many new things when it comes to business etiquette. 

I especially appreciate the information and advice you have provided on how to behave in business networking events. Again, thank you so much.”

#2 “Hi Diane,
I love my new job. People are very nice here. I’m learning a lot from my new job.

Last week my company sent me to Montreal for a conference, held by one of the leading investment systems maker in the world. All the Canadian clients of this company came to the conference. Task given to me by my manager was to make contact with everybody. There was a cocktail party, dinner and conference that took place over 2 days. 
 
What I learnt from you helped me a lot. I think I’m very fortunate to have met you. I used all the things you taught me. It was very successful. I saw lot of people who came unprepared for the event. I read the Executive Presence manual you gave me before I went and it helped me remember what you taught me. Thank you so so much again.”

 

How Business Etiquette Contributes to Engaged Workplaces

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Recently, The Globe and Mail released a report on the 50 most engaged workplaces in Canada. Engagement in the workplace, which, according to The Globe and Mail, is defined by “employees’ passion for their work and commitment to the company’s vision,” holds significant influence on a company’s success on so many levels: employee retention, customer relations and the ability to deliver on objectives, among countless others.

Business etiquette undeniably is a part of what creates an engaged workplace. The judging panel for this award evaluated companies based on the following eight elements: communication, leadership, culture, rewards and recognition, professional and personal growth, accountability and performance, vision and values, and corporate and social responsibility. How is business etiquette integral in certain elements of this criteria?

Communication
Business communication takes many forms: from internal to external, interpersonal to technological, everyday exchanges to larger issues management. For a business to be successful, all channels of communication must run smoothly, and business etiquette can facilitate this success.

  • Technological Communication ranges from email, texting, phone calls, voicemail, or conference calls – any form of communication that is not face-to-face. When you think about how often you use tech-based communication every day, mastering the nuances of these forms of communication – such as how to introduce yourself on a conference call or how to compose a respectful email in a difficult situation – becomes essential.
  •  Interpersonal Communication also can occur in various situations: casual meetings between colleagues, an important client or partner dinner, or a networking event. A gauge on properly handling communication in any one of these contexts is crucial to making professional connections.

Professional and Personal Growth
A company that provides its employees with the potential for growth and development is certainly on a path to success. Opportunities like seminars, trainings, lunch-and-learn sessions, or individual consulting can make a world of difference in an employee’s performance.

When business etiquette, professional image or executive presence are addressed in these contexts, an individual becomes more confident and self-aware, while simultaneously contributing the benefits and strengths of their newly sharpened traits to the rest of the team. Corporate Class Inc. provides a comprehensive training that can enhance professional presence in virtually every business interaction. This training, the Executive Presence System, includes six core modules: interpersonal communication skills, techno-communication skills, workplace etiquette and best practices, presentation skills, business dress and executive dining skills.
Culture
A harmonious workplace culture functions on the respect that employees have for their colleagues, their company and for themselves. This respect is made manifest through good workplace etiquette – in essence, a necessary standard for how employees treat one another.

It’s no wonder that business etiquette and professional development are key to a company’s success – simply look no further than the role of business etiquette in the elements that define Canada’s top 50 most engaged companies!

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Best Practices for the Home Office

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The home office: for independent consultants, this might be your headquarters. For those with a long commute, working from home might serve as a welcome balance between trekking to the city and staying productive in close quarters. Whatever the reason, working from home is a common practice – but one that requires practice to make perfect.

Here are few tips to make the home office work for you.

Communication is key
For those reporting back to an office base from home, availability and connectivity to your colleagues – as if you actually were in the office – is key.

  • Maintain the best possible equipment to stay connected to colleagues and clients. This includes high-speed Internet, office phone, Skype and webcam, and document and email servers consistent with those of your colleagues.
  • If you do plan to leave your desk or office for a length of time, ensure that colleagues can reach you by phone and email on a mobile device. The expectation is that you are available during business hours, just as those working in the office are.
  • Since you cannot attend in-person meetings, conference calls often take their place. Practice good conference call etiquette: first, always state your name at the beginning of the call, so participants are accounted for. Also, be sure to call from a quiet place, so any daily noises such as lawn mowers or dogs barking do not disrupt the call. If your surroundings do become noisy, mute the phone when you are not speaking so the background noises do not disrupt the conference.

Recipes for productivity
When working from home, you also need the home office to work for you. Everyone has different methods of productivity, but a consistent routine and an organized space can work wonders.

  • Schedule the right amount of work time, at the right times. Again, if you do report to an office, it’s essential to be available during its regular business hours. If you are an independent consultant, it still can be helpful to delineate regular blocks of time for work and rest – both to ensure productivity during work hours and to prevent yourself from constantly working.
  • Though you are at home, do not include domestic chores into your daily routine. You would never do laundry or clean the closet while in the actual office, so don’t do these tasks during home office hours, either.
  • Focus on the elements of your home office space. To begin, completely separate your office from other parts of the house: this will help you both physically and mentally dedicate yourself to your work. Make sure that all family members respect this space and know when they can and cannot disturb you. The décor is up to you, but maintain neatness and a professional design, should you need to host a job-related guest.

If you work from home, how do you make it work for you and your colleagues?

Share your experience, tips and advice for success in the home office!

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What’s Your Workplace Wellness Plan?

What’s your workplace wellness plan? As an individual, it’s important to balance your physical health alongside a busy work schedule. As a manager, you are accountable for providing options for your employees to maintain physical wellness inside and outside the workplace, which can fit within the schedule and demands of your company.

Physical health is directly aligned with performance in the workplace; its benefits include achieving a work-life balance, the ability to maintain stress, a healthy and composed professional image, and a means to counter-balance long hours sitting behind a computer.

Below are a few tips on how to incorporate wellness into your workday, followed by a few best practices for etiquette at the gym:

For Managers: Helping your employees stay healthy

  • Encourage your employees to get up and stretch or walk around the office every hour. Share with them the health benefits of taking short breaks during long periods of sitting.
  • Consider enrolling in a plan with a local gym that provides your employees with a corporate discount. Many gyms provide contracts for companies with the option of reduced membership rates and other benefits for employees.
  • Ensure that all of your employees are outfitted with good quality office furniture that correctly aligns posture and physical ergonomics. This includes desk chairs, elevated computer or laptop stands, and keyboard trays, depending on the layout of the desk.

 

For Individuals: Balancing work with physical health

  • In spite of a busy work schedule, it is important to make time for physical health, which directly affects your performance in the office, your stress level, and your overall well-being. Choose a gym that is near your office, so it is easily accessible to visit before work, during lunch or immediately after work. If the gym is not in a convenient location, it can seem near impossible to fit in a workout in the midst of an already hectic schedule!
  • Plan to walk to work on certain days; or, if you don’t live in walking distance, try walking on your lunch hour. Fresh air and light exercise will give you energy for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Throughout the day, drink plenty of water and remind yourself to stand up intermittently to avoid several consecutive hours of sitting. This is an easy way to stay fresh and alert.

 

Etiquette at the Gym

  • If you attend the gym during peak times when the machines are mostly occupied, do not spend more than 30 minutes on one machine; instead, rotate between different cardio machines or try lifting weights as part of your workout
  • Help to keep the gym clean and sanitary by using the towels and cleanser provided to wipe down equipment after use.
  • Leave your cell phone locked away at all times while at the gym, whether in the locker room or on the workout floor. Many gyms have a no-cell phone policy for privacy purposes, as well as out of respect to the other gym attendees. Putting your cell phone away for an hour or two also benefits you in that it allows you to unwind and focus your attention away from the stresses of the office.
  • Have fun, and enjoy maintaining a healthy work-life balance!

 

You can also read one of our previous blogs on gym etiquette

If you are interested, we also can arrange a great lunch and learn session at your place of work with our colleague Dr. Jones

 

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First Impressions with Your Office Space

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When a guest comes to your office, the first thing they encounter will not be you, but the reception space of your office. The entrance area will make the first impression on your client, partner or other guest – even before you have the opportunity! Your guest must encounter a comfortable yet professional space, and it is up to you to make the most of this underestimated but very important first impression.

Perfect your space

The elements of your reception area will not only speak for your company’s brand and character, but it can also set the tone for the visit. Pay close attention to both the overall elements and the little details.

  • Colours: The colour of the walls and other spatial qualities can instantly set a mood. This interactive colour palette by Pantone matches mood to paint tone, anywhere from “calming” to “efficient” to “sophisticated” or “successful.” What mood do you want to project in your office? Whatever you choose, be sure not to set an “aggressive” colour tone to your office! Alternatively, you may choose to colour your space according to your brand guidelines. If this is your scheme, keep consistent with colours and design on all other branded material, such as business cards or promotional material.
  • Furniture: It is essential to have at least two to three reception chairs that are both comfortable to sit in and which look professional. The receptionist’s desk and chair should also be of good quality.
  • Décor: Create a refined atmosphere with more creative design elements, such as paintings or photographs, a mirror with a decorative frame, a vase with fresh flowers or a decorative hat stand. Don’t go over-the-top, however; unless you want to create a quirky or expressive office space, stay professional with minimal and tasteful pieces.
  • Lighting: Unfortunately, few of us have control over the aggressive fluorescent lighting that comes installed in most office buildings. However, we can control the mood lighting, in spite of these overhead lights. Counter-balance flat, fluorescent light by placing low lights on and near the reception desk, creating a more welcoming and friendly mood.

 

Hire a great receptionist

Your receptionist will meet your guests before you do. So, you must hire someone whom you can trust to make a great first impression and to treat your guests with respect and care. Look for the following qualifications:

  • Friendliness: A friendly face and a pleasant demeanor will set a positive tone to any visit.
  • Proper attire: Out of anyone in your office, perhaps it is most important that your receptionist looks his or her best. As the first point of contact, they must dress up a notch even in a less formal setting. A receptionist in jeans and flip-flops, for example, will not set the right tone – even if you greet your guests in a suit.
  • Professionalism: Along the same lines as proper attire, a good receptionist must behave with professional conduct at all times.
  •  Good hosting: Make sure there is a routine in place for the receptionist to host a guest properly upon arrival: take the guest’s coat and hat, offer the guest coffee or tea, and promptly retrieve the staff member who is expecting a visitor. If there will be a large group of guests for a long meeting or series of meetings, ensure that the receptionist will arrange for catering.

With these elements in place, you can make a great first impression on your guests – before you even meet them!

 

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Setting the Stage in Your Company with Good Communication & Business Etiquette

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Directors, VPs, managers and other business leaders hold the keys to facilitating vital client and partner relationships, and so must present their best possible image and business etiquette skills when dealing with external contacts. Equally as important is for these company leaders to set the stage within their businesses and exhibit the same top-notch communication and conduct with their own employees. This is important not only for individual employee retention and morale, but also to keep the company as a whole running smoothly and cohesively.

Are you a business leader? Take note of these tips to project a top-notch image and facilitate good communication within your company.

  • Schedule occasional “check in” meetings with each individual on your team. Make an effort to connect with each individual in an informal setting (such as a coffee date or lunch), so that they can voice any concerns, discuss their current status, or simply catch up. Your willingness to set aside dedicated time for individuals will show your staff that you value each team member’s contributions and that you treat all levels of employees with the same respect.How often you meet and with whom depends on the size of your company: if you run a smaller organization, be sure to set aside time for everyone from colleagues on the management team to members of the support staff. If you are in a larger company, ensure you connect with everyone within your department, and advise managers of other departments to do the same.
  • Facilitate team-building or strategy exercises.
    With the fast pace of day-to-day obligations and minutiae, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and where the organization is headed. It is up to the company leaders to arrange for the group to take a step back and remind the team of the overall and cohesive objectives of the business. Organizing group sessions that invite all employees to review larger perspectives and long-term strategies are beneficial for keeping the team on the same path.Team-building activities unrelated to business objectives are also advantageous; fun and casual sessions that sharpen collaborative skills will be a refreshing exercise to most employees. Also, this will once again positively display your willingness as a manager to take extra time to focus on staff development and morale.
  • Invite anonymous feedback and criticism.
    Even providing the option for members of staff to voice their criticism shows that you are willing to grow and change as a leader to fit your employees’ needs. Staff will appreciate your readiness to listen and to incorporate feedback, whether or not they have any criticism of your management style.
  • Set an example with your best professional image.
    As a business leader, you must project the best professional image, not only to represent your own and your company’s professionalism, but also to set the tone and expectations for your own employees.A refined image will demonstrate to your staff that you are a serious, hardworking and confident leader. It will also encourage them to follow the same level of professionalism, so that your whole team represents the caliber of your company as you define it.

 

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Entrepreneurs, Consultants and Those Who Pursued a Professional Dream: Why Do You Love What You Do?

For entrepreneurs choosing to follow their professional passion, starting a business from the ground up can be risky and daunting. Yet pure excitement and enthusiasm combined with experience from previous jobs can help to jump-start a business. The key to maintaining a successful business is to continue to grow and develop skills and offerings in new and unique ways.

How did you get into your business? Why do you love what you do? There are many reasons – and benefits – to transitioning careers in mid-life and going out on a limb for your own entrepreneurial pursuits.

You know your passion – and your objectives.
It can take years to define your career passions and what is important to you. Once you have an idea of your long-term goals, it is easier to turn these into concrete objectives. Your years of experience in another profession can help to shape and guide these plans.

You have experience and skills to support you.
Not only can your initial career path help you to determine your overarching career goals, it can also give you a strong foundation of professional skills and experience. Skills you have used previously in other career contexts can be surprisingly interchangeable and universal.

You define your professional future.
In your own business venture, you can steer the company in the direction you want it to go. You have the flexibility to grow – and to determine how much and where it will grow; you also have control over the product, concept and look of your business.

Once your business is up and running, passion for the job and a serious work ethic will keep you at a steady pace. But a successful entrepreneur also must expand and develop; proactively learning and seeking new ways to grow is also then key.

 

A corporate training program can revitalize your brand and vastly enrich your material. Corporate Class Inc.’s Executive Presence License Program, developed and taught by image and professional development expert Diane Craig, is a gold standard for executive training.

For personal and professional development consultants and coaches, or for those ready to launch their own consulting businesses, the Executive Presence License Program includes a robust package of materials and techniques that will either further expand your existing program or help to build the foundations of a new venture:

-       Learn how to have a recognizable brand to fuel marketing

-       Connect with people in the organizations you want to work with, break into the corporate world, and do business with Fortune 500 companies

-       Build Executive Presence program material, including:

  • Executive Presence System Participant Manual
  • Executive Presence System Trainer’s Guide
  • Slides, downloadable Executive Dining Etiquette program, access to self-assessment tool and STEP profile, and more (includes all exercises developed by Corporate Class Inc.)
  • And more

-       Train for over 50 hours with Diane Craig, with the opportunity to be privately coached by Diane on a monthly basis

Passion for your profession is what helps to get your venture off the ground. Now, allow your business to thrive by becoming a licensed expert!

 

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Business Etiquette Training for Virgin Australia Flight Attendants

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(GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

In a recent article published in the Huffington Post,”the cabin crew of Virgin Australia–formerly Virgin Blue–has been asked to participate in a program called Elevate, an etiquette, wine-appreciation, grooming and body language class, in an effort to try to win business customers from flailing rival, Qantas.”

What’s the reason for this kind of business etiquette training in the airline industry?

As explained by Mark Hassell, the airline’s group executive of brand and customer experience, their aim is that they “want to retain of the spirit that exists within Virgin service style and service behavior but put it in a context that is equally relevant for business-purpose and corporate travelers.”

Large and small corporations are realizing the benefits of business etiquette training. No matter what some might say, etiquette and class never goes out of style.

(GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

Small details matter and you might be surprised to learn the kind of etiquette training cabin crew undergo to ensure the best possible travel experience for business and first class travellers.

Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic’s flight attendants were given whispering lessons to have a “calming effect” for Upper Class passengers. “It is incredibly important that all Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew have their skills honed in order to provide the most comfortable experience possible for our passengers,” Richard Fitzgerald, Virgin Atlantic’s whispering coach, said at the time.

No matter what your business, you and your people deserve customized business etiquette training to set yourself apart from your competitors and stand out in front of your clients.

For etiquette training for Toronto businesses contact Diane Craig to learn how she can help.