Develop your Executive Presence fast
If you want to stand out at work, get people to take you more seriously and increase your leadership potential – executive presence is a core skill to master.
When we feel sidelined at work, it can really affect our confidence and career success.
In this blog you’ll learn 10 powerful tactics to develop your executive presence so that you can showcase your professional skills more effectively and get more influence at work.
Inspirational leaders show executive presence that inspires followers to share a vision that's authentic & meaningful.
About the Author
Sara Geiger is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Speaking Coach, and Opera Singer who likes to play with words, sounds, and your impact.
Her academic background is in Music Performance, Communication Science and Speech & Language Pathology. She’s currently completing a PhD in Opera Performance.
Connect with Sara on LinkedIn.
I’ve met a lot of professionals completely frustrated with what they need to do to grow as a leader and finally get noticed and finally given management opportunities or win the desired promotion they’ve set their sights on.
In my work as communication performance consultant for emerging and executive leaders I work with you to implement actionable tactics that are backed by science that increase your impact.
One of the biggest barriers I notice among my clients is the overwhelming unsolicited feedback from colleagues and managers around communication usually without being asked!
It can be destabilising when someone tells you that you missed out on a promotion because of your communication or weak executive presence.
Structuring your leadership development to develop your executive presence is not something that many organisations offer or even understand, which is exactly why I’ve prepped this guide.
I hope that by the end of the article, you will have some fresh insights into how to hone your exective presence so that you can grow as a leader, build your personal brand and dial in on your career growth.
Maybe you’re an MBA student worrying about how to enter the management consulting space and clear the competition in interviews, or perhaps you’re an executive already who feels like they lack lustre, or a female leader curious about how to have presence as a woman in a male dominated industry, either way, this article is going to give you some new perspectives for your leadership development.
Executive Presence is a requirement of Leadership Development
This blog is best digested in 10 manageable chunks. First, I’ve aimed to give you a comprehensive overview that will help you to consider your executive presence concerns.
You might want to bookmark this page to refer back to later – because it could take more than one sitting!
Here are the steps for you to get a stronger grasp on ingredients your communication needs so that you can showcase your Executive Presence.
- Read the 10 tactics below (below)
- Watch 🎥 Does Your Executive Presence Pass the Test? – included below
- Pick up a copy of the Communication Growth Plan for Work and review areas that you can expand to extend your professional speaking skills.
- If you like what you’ve learned, join the C-Suite Waitlist or reach out to me directly for executive coaching sessions or book me as a Speaker for your next event or team training.
Now it’s time to uncover 10 New Tactics to add to your professional life so that you can get more merit for your leadership potential and skill.
1. Use collective language : We versus Me
A great example of this comes from Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign. The words Obama used influenced and inspired the world.
His famous catchphrases: “Yes we can” and “Change we can believe in” stuck. Now imagine if Barack had said something along the lines of “Change I believe in” or “Yes, I can?”
Through his use of collective language Barack Obama powerfully positioned himself alongside us, thus increasing his persuasion and trustworthiness.
This is a core feature of executive presence.
2. Sharpen your appearance.
Your team and boss notice your nonverbal communication. Pay attention to how you balance your eye contact, your attire and personal grooming. These factors influence listener bias, and can increase your credibility and gravitas.
Where you can, dress formally, smart and sharp. Your contacts are more likely to rate you as intelligent and trustworthy if you look well presented.
3.Remove fillers & hesitations
Filler words and phrases like “um, err, the thing is, like and ah” tend to destabilise the logical connection and flow of our ideas. If you want to increase connection with your listeners you need to present a concise and logical message. Reduce repetitive words such as “so, just, a little bit and very”. Fillers destabilise your message but tighter sentences, increase your gravitas.
4. Increase your speaking logic
Use concise sentences help your listeners to extract core details. Is there a way you can use less words to express your ideas? Aim for that! You’ll sound more convinced and less hesitant which translates as confident communication.
5. Fine tune your voice tone.
Vocal power and tone clarity are key components of executive presence. If we want to demonstrate leadership potential our voice needs to cut through the noise, catch attention and keep our team listening. Your voice has the power to convince and persuade if used effectively. I strongly recommend you work with an expert to polish your voice signal. I’ve linked a vlog on charismatic voice tone in the comments below so make sure you check it out if you want to learn more about this.
🎥 Does Your Executive Presence Pass the Test?
One of the fastest ways to increase your impact is by working on your look. It’s a fact; people are watching you, and the way you dress, move your body, and even smile sends signals that either back up your impact or make you look less confident. So don’t overlook your appearance when it comes to working on your interpersonal communication. In this vlog I’ll cover 4 personal branding strategies to develop your executive presence.
People that come up with creative solutions when faced with deep challenging problems tend to have a higher executive presence. Inspirational leaders stand out as innovators and early adopters.
Executive presence usually comes across in individuals who show a different mindset, a creative take on things, a new, fresh, innovative approach to solving some of the company’s deepest pain points. If you’re not exposing yourself to new cutting edge ideas in your industry, or even the world, you will struggle to keep up and demonstrate a point of difference from your competition. Look at where your expertise and skills align with current emerging trends in the world and global markets and fill the gaps with careful study and research.
You’ll feel more comfortable to position your ideas and suggestions in team meetings and with your superiors if you’re across current affairs, industry updates and best practice.
7. Participate but don't dominate.
It’s easy to confuse showcasing your worth with dominating tasks at work. A lot of my clients have felt that if they speak up more, and push their ideas forward, more people will notice their potential.
However this can really work against you. Be strategic and tactical when you participate and find ways to speak up so that your message has more impact for the group. Carefully monitor your turn taking skills, apply the rules of active listening and avoid interjecting and interrupting your conversation partners.
8. Pitch actively for opportunities
Executive presence is all about positioning and influence. No matter what position you occupy in your company, you’ll only have influence if you find opportunities.
Pitch actively for opportunity. Don’t sit back, find ways to creatively innovate your role and your job description where possible.
Work within your KPIs, but apply a level of excellence so that you stand out and then pitch for more opportunities, pay or promotions or you’ll get taken for granted.
It’s very normal to feel anxious about public speaking. But I’m afraid if you leave that area unnoticed and unattended, you’re likely to fall behind. What sets people apart with high level executive presence is their ability to speak effectively and powerfully when faced with enormous pressure. Effective leaders can cut through the noise. They are able to speak confidently and concisely although overtired, stressed and faced with massive backlash or challenging difficulties or company pressures. Now is the time to build your public speaking portfolio, as it will prepare you for the elite level communication needed for leadership.
Professional, engaging communication needs an active and motivating tone. So if you want to develop your executive presence, work on your expressive tone. You can do this by using positive action based language that focuses on solutions, benefits, and innovative approaches to problems. If you’re in the habit of complaining about the challenges you face you run the risk of not demonstrating and portraying leadership potential. Leaders need to look to the future in order to inspire the team. So watch that your language isn’t getting bogged down with complaining. We also know that listeners are more inclined to tune into your message if it has a positive motivating element. So find ways to change your perspective if you find yourself getting burdened with a lot of negativity, complaining, gossip, backlash, and failure to move and grow.
Executive presence can be learnt, but to progress you must deploy science backed techniques. Take some time to evaluate how you are tracking with these 10 tactics in your daily life because if you give them attention, you can actively boost your gravitas, credibility and persuasive skills. I wanted to capture a nice overview so that you can push your communication goals forward, get more impact at work, start to feel heard and valued, and ultimately increase your personal and professional success.
Want to learn more career skills to amplify your success? The C-Suite is coming soon, join the waitlist here.
The Ultimate Executive Presence Playlist
When we feel sidelined and like we’ve got no influence at work, it can really affect our confidence and career success.
If you need some inspiration or an Executive Presence PEP TALK- check out this playlist.
Axelrod, R. (2017). Leadership and Self-Confidence. Chapter in book Leadership Today.
Beeson, J. Deconstructing Executive Presence, Harvard Business Review, 2012
Blazek, S. G. (2015). CEO Staying Power, Korn Ferry.
Hewlett, S., Leader-Chivée, L., Sherbin, L, Gordon, J. and Dieudonné (2012). Executive presence. Coqual.
Dagley, G. & Gaskin, C. (2014). Understanding executive presence: Perspectives on business professionals. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice & Research, 66(3), 197-211. doi:10.1037/cpb0000011
Evan, R. (2019). Queering Executive Presence. Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis. 10.31274/jctp.8205.
Hewlett, S.(9 February 2011). Dress for the job you want? Harvard Business Review.
Mencl, J., Wefald, A. & Ittersum, K. (2016). Transformational leader attributes: interpersonal skills, engagement, and well-being. Leadership & Organization Development Journal. 37. 635-657. 10.1108/LODJ-09-2014-0178.
Rule, N. & Ambady, N. (2009). She’s got the look: Inferences from female chief executive officers’ faces predict their success. Sex Roles, 61, 644-652. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9658-9