Having confidence and poise. Being decisive under pressure. The “wow factor”. “Magnetism.” “Gravitas.” Those are a few ways I have heard the buzz term “Executive Presence” described. I believe having good presence is relevant to everyone; from the new interviewee, through mid-level management and entrepreneurs and yes, even executives. And I have good news; Executive Presence is a skill; which means you can develop it as long as you are willing to put in some effort.
This is certainly something that is easier to show than to tell. But my goal is to give you a few things you can think about to increase your Executive Presence.
Confidence and poise are projected by having GREAT posture, specifically your hips, shoulders and head need to be aligned and move together. Former athletes often move very fluidly because they understand their bodies in space. If it’s not something you’ve ever thought about, consider watching video of yourself walking. Think about what it looks like to move powerfully (which is not the same as quickly). Notice how other people walk (I don’t know about you but I love people watching). Pick out someone who projects confidence and poise. Why do they and what it would feel like to emulate that?
Ladies – if you are going to wear heels make sure you can actually walk in them. If you have never been taught how to do so, or spent time thinking about the mechanics of doing so, you are likely not doing it well. Walking like a football lineman is not going to help your Executive Presence. I put together bullet points for a client after a session on the subject. If you’d like them, email me.
Make eye contact, offer a firm handshake and smile. That does not mean you need to stare people down and crush their hands (someone actually hurt me by squeezing my hand too aggressively recently). If a handshake doesn’t go well try saying, “That didn’t turn out very well. Let’s try that handshake again.” I have done that on more than one occasion. It breaks the ice and puts you in control of the situation.
Be concise, it gives the perception of expansive knowledge. Don’t rush into answering questions. Wait a beat and collect your thoughts. Too often we start talking before we really know what we want to say. That leads to saying many, many more words than we need to and maybe not making a point at all (I was “in audience” of a woman who did this just last week. There were five of us in the circle but she was doing ALL of the talking). Make your point and leave space in the conversation for people to ask questions.
When you speak, do so strongly. If you’re in a large group, project your voice. Nothing will erode your Executive Presence like a timid voice. Unless of course you start your sentence with, “This might be a stupid question but…” If you don’t value you others won’t either. Speak up and take ownership of your ideas and space.
Become comfortable being uncomfortable. Your heart might be pounding and you might have anxiety about the situation but nobody needs to know that. If your throat feels dry, take a drink of water. If you realize you are going in the wrong direction, turn around and walk confidently in the other direction. You are the master of what people get to perceive about you. They can’t hear what’s going on in your head.
Use your strengths to be remembered. What interests you about people? Ask why questions and really listen to the responses. People will find you fascinating. Are you quick witted? Use one-liners (as long as they are kind and appropriate) to ease tension. People will remember you as funny. Do you have knowledge that could help someone? Share it. You will be thought of as helpful. If you don’t know what strengths you have that can help with your Executive Presence, a coach or mentor will be able to help you solidify a few ideas.
Being self confident to begin with is going to help you develop your Executive Presence. If you don’t have self confidence, that is a great place to start your journey. It isn’t something some people are handed and others just miss out. Confidence, like Executive Presence, is developed and honed. If you want it, you can have it.
Who do you think has great Executive Presence? How do you know?
As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential!
Sending a shout out to Jim Lee from Strategic Foresight Investments for inspiring today’s post. If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address, send it to DocRobyn@ChampPerformance.com
Dr. Robyn Odegaard (aka “Doc Robyn”) is internationally known motivational speaker, executive coach and corporate trainer. As CEO of Champion Performance Development, she works with executives, professionals, athletes, and coaches to help them achieve excellence by sharing active leadership, powerful teamwork, conscious communication, Productive Conflict™ and professional disagreement skills. She is the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the books Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams and The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time. To work with her one-on-one, have her present to your team, request a custom workshop or invite her to speak at your event, please call 302-307-3091 or email her at DocRobyn@ChampPerformance.com.