Careers

CEO of a $16 billion business says the way you write emails can break your career

As CEO of Accenture's North America business, Julie Sweet runs a $16 billion business and oversees a team of more than 50,000 employees. So she knows a thing or two about the most valuable skills in the corporate world.

The best investment a professional can make is to develop one often overlooked skill, the CEO says.

"What's the greatest advice I give?" Sweet tells CNBC. "Develop excellent communication skills." Both in person and in writing, such as when using email.

"I think people underrate the importance of investing in your communication skills as a way to progress in your career," Sweet says.

Here's why it matters: Bosses notice when employees communicate well and when they do not.

"An employee, even a very junior person, if they can articulately summarize a meeting," she says, "if they can put together a presentation and even emails that are really salient and to the point, they are so valued." Employees who cannot, on the other hand, can find their prospects dimming.

Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture's North America business.
Accenture
Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture's North America business.

To improve your communication skills, experts recommend doing the following:

  • Sit up or stand up straight when speaking.

  • Avoid speaking more quickly or in a higher tone than normal.

  • Jot down notes before speaking to help you organize your thoughts.

  • When writing an email, keep the message succinct.

Even the business leader herself makes time to practice these skills. "Every year, I spend time to improve how I communicate," Sweet says.

For more communication tips, check out these tricks to feel and look confident.