Forget power dressing, firm handshakes, and getting the boss’s coffee – the key to success for women in business is an elusive formula called “executive presence”, apparently.

Female entrepreneurs need to spend “hours of painstaking effort” honing the perfect balance of confidence, poise and authority if they want to rise up. And yes, it helps to dress impeccably.

In a book called Executive Presence that claims to crack the formula, controversial author Sylvia Ann Hewlett lays out the dos and don’ts of getting ahead.

She warns too many women rely on “ability” than how they are perceived – but that is the real hurdle. PowerPoint presentations, notes, and talking to fill silences are a few of the security blankets that female entrepreneurs need to stop hiding behind, she insists.

“Women, more than men, have a tendency to rely on security blankets like notes and PowerPoint presentations,” she said. “It comes from a good place, out of an urge to show how much research they have done, but your colleagues switch off. Talking too much is also a problem. You need to train yourself to control that in the boardroom.”

The real struggle, she says, is cracking casualwear: “Women simply can’t do it, we found. Go for something simple and statement – a well-cut pair of jeans and a colourful top.” – Daily Mail