photo: Corbis

While landing a job in your field of choice in your 20s might seem like the hardest thing in your career, moving up the ladder can be even more challenging. Even the smallest details you might not be aware of, like saying “umm” too much or talking too fast, could hold you back. The way you portray yourself at work matters a lot, says speech coach and author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results Darlene Price, and could make the difference in really succeeding. Here are seven tips to presenting yourself in a way that cracks corporate codes.

Take note of inflections in your speech. Young women tend to end their sentences with an upward inflection, says Price. This can be discrediting. Sometimes the end of sentences can sound like questions, she says. “It’s very distracting.”

Avoid upspeak. Upspeak, also known as a high, rising intonation, can be off-putting and alarming. “Our ear literally does not receive the high pitch,” says Price, who recommends taking a speech therapy class if you struggle with a high pitch.

Don’t talk too fast. “The standard American business rate [of speech] is about 150 to 160 words a minute — it’s the rate in which audio books are recorded,” says Price. “[For millennials] their average rate of speech is between 200 to 220 a minute.” In other words, if you notice your boss or colleagues having a hard time keeping up with what you’re saying, slow it down!

Lose weak filler words. Words like think or might are a no-no in interviews in particular, says Price. “You really want to use the words I’m confident or I believe, says Price.

Stay away from validation questions. "It’s tagging on little questions at the end as though you need someone’s approval,” Price says. “But instead you would say, ‘that’s acceptable,’ or ‘that’s how we’ll proceed,’ or ‘that costs too much.’ “

Don’t say try. "Imagine if your boss says, ‘I need your proposal by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning,’ and you say, ‘I’ll try to get it to you?’” says Price. “That implies the possibility that I might not get it finished. So you simply want to say, ‘I’ll have it at your desk by 9:00 a.m.,’ or ’I’ll have it there.’ ”

Avoid vague modifiers. Words like really, a lot, significant, or terrific are vague modifiers. Replace them with a specific phrase or something quantifiable, Price notes. “So rather than saying ‘You really want to invest with us because we’ll save you a lot of money,’ you want to say, ‘You really want to invest in our solution because we can save you up to 10 percent of what you’re spending now, which equates with a million dollars a year.’“