A commonly held misconception about executive presence is that it is all about dressing for the part. While appearances are important, your presence is more comprehensive than merely the clothes that you wear. Most people won’t be convinced about your leadership until you demonstrate the ability to communicate in a sophisticated and distinguished manner. Executive presence is all about how you use your space, body, voice and mind to generate a positive perception of authority and leadership.
Executive presence allows you to leverage your experience and knowledge into success as a leader. Knowing a topic or industry inside and out is not enough to guarantee leadership success. If you are unable to deliver a cohesive, meaningful and persuasive message in front of a group of colleagues, you lack executive presence. Leaders must speak to engage and compel attention to keep an audience interested. Yet executive presence is not about putting on a show to excite people. Rather, you must naturally speak with confidence and enthusiasm when talking about something you really believe in. This means telling the truth. When you are honest, you are able to deliver words with an authentic tone. In short, people are looking for you to be genuine about the message that you are communicating.
The key to communicating as a leader is confidence. Executive presence is partially established when a speaker communicates clearly and with in-depth knowledge of the subject matter. However, if you don’t exude confidence, there is no chance that your audience or colleagues will believe in you as their leader. Once people sense that you are speaking with confidence and knowledge, they will trust you, open up and be receptive to your message.
It is imperative that you use specific and complete language to communicate thoughts, ideas and facts in an artful manner. If you talk in general or skip logical steps, people won’t be able to follow your thoughts. You must distill complex concepts into simple language so that listeners understand completely. Telling stories that illustrate and back up your points can be an important communication tool, not only to make complex concepts simple, but to entertain and engage listeners as well.
A large component of executive presence is non-verbal communication. Leaders establish genuine relationships with others by making eye contact and exhibiting passion. Aside from dressing as a professional, it is important to exhibit body language that engages the audience. When you stand stiffly in front of a group and speak without movement, you aren’t able to hold the attention of the crowd because you are not allowing emotions to flow. People are strongly influenced by body language because it reveals how you really feel at that moment. Facial expressions also help to engage an audience. Executives who can integrate their appearance with their body language and the verbalization of their knowledge are able to deliver a message congruent with authority and confidence.
When speaking, leaders need to sweat the small stuff. Seemingly subtle elements like pitch inflection, emphasis, pauses, tempo and facial expressions strongly influence a crowd’s perception of a speaker. Your ability to communicate what you know in an eloquent and engaging manner is just as important as the breadth of your knowledge.
If you’d like to learn more about establishing your executive presence, register for one of our group speaking classes, private coaching or corporate programs Give us a call at 281-293-7070 or visit our website at http://www.self-expression.com for more information.