Did you ever know someone who could walk into a room and suddenly receive all the attention? Someone who everyone would stop to listen to as soon as they opened their mouth to speak? Are they magic? No, they have executive presence.
Executive presence is something most people can’t put their finger on. How do they do it?
People with executive presence are great leaders and get promoted easily. They garner respect and are considered highly credible. They make complex concepts easy to understand, and they’re enjoyable to engage with. They get people to like them easily.
They’re engaging and compelling public speakers. They’re highly influential in all arenas. Were they born this way? Not likely. Most incredible communicators have learned and practiced the techniques necessary to being charismatic and having that certain je ne sais quoi that people with executive presence display.
Executive presence (EP) is strength, composure, and aplomb. It’s warmth, kindness, and authority. It’s magnetic & serene. EP folks compel others and quickly get them to follow their call to action.
The great news is, with a little time & practice, you can have it. The benefits are tremendous!
How to Make Your Speaking Voice Sound Better
Executive presence is a skill, not a gift.
Do not despair; executive presence is not something you must be born with; it can be learned and mastered. Here’s how:
- Be open. Be aware of the people around you and quickly decipher their mood.
- Listen to folks when they speak. Fight the urge to speak, and when listening, don’t think about what you’re going to say next.
- Respond to people using warmth, humor, kindness, and strength. In other words, make them feel good.
- Don’t be emotional.
- Your body language and facial expressions must supplement and underscore your message.
- Authority and warmth need to emanate from you.
- Learn to lead and to follow when necessary.
- Master the ability to connect with others. Establish and nurture your relationships.
- Improve the delivery of your messages. Make them easy to understand and persuasive. Limit your use of filler words.
- Do not use upspeak, whiny, or otherwise grating voice.
- Use peoples’ names in conversation.
Want executive presence today? Don’t want to do it alone? Let us help! Get into my calendar for a free consultation. No hassle.
Be aware of the people around you and quickly decipher their mood. When a meeting starts or when you first come across someone, let a smile spread slowly across your face.
Observe others’ facial expressions and body language.
Just as you must learn to use effective body language and facial expressions, you can learn a lot about others by observing theirs. When someone’s body is closed, they are likely feeling defensive. Take it upon yourself to diffuse this.
How to Improve Your Speaking Skills
Listen to folks when they speak.
Fight the urge to speak, and when listening, don’t think about what you’re going to say next. Utilize repetition and rephrasing to validate people. “So you’re saying…” and reword what the other person said with a more positive spin when necessary.
Respond to people using warmth, humor, kindness, and strength.
In other words, make them feel good. Your job as an executive who emanates presence is to help others see the positive, keep up a good attitude and see things your way. You can do this by steering them in the right direction using humor, warmth & kindness.
Don’t be emotional.
Did you ever notice that when you get emotional, you may say things you later regret? Or perhaps you can’t speak at all when you’d prefer to defend yourself?
How to Speak Clearly in 7 Easy Steps
Sometimes people don’t know when they’re emotional. It can be characterized by a vagueness that leads to frustration. Or reacting too quickly. Or having your pitch go up as you’re speaking. There are lots of ways we can determine if we’re behaving emotionally. One thing I can tell you is it happens more often than you may think.
Those with executive presence have learned to keep emotions from ruining their interactions with others by relaxing during those upwellings.
How to stop being emotional and start having executive presence.
Here’s another trick to stop being emotional: Don’t associate your identity with your thoughts. There’s a way that you can determine if you do this. If you associate your identity with your thoughts anyone who has the opposite opinion from you becomes your enemy. That causes you to become emotional.
It’s going to take a bit of practice. One way to do it is to dig a little deeper. Make sure you discuss your goals with your team. Once you align your goals and realize that the superficiality of how it gets done doesn’t even compare with the depth of the communal desire of your goals.
Body language & facial expressions are supplemental.
Your body language and facial expressions must supplement and underscore your message. Keeping your body open helps you maintain control over yourself and other people. Look in the mirror at your face.
Do you have deep lines from your mouth to your nose or lines in your forehead? Those are there because the muscles below are too tense. You can learn to relax those muscles and smooth out those lines. My clients usually get it done in a week.
Be authoritative & warm.
Authority and warmth need to emanate from you. This is how you get people to do what you tell them to do. 🙂 Let folks know you support them, be willing to try new things/strategies. Exude confidence by continually assessing your skills and improving upon them.
Learn to lead.
Learn to lead and to follow when necessary. A great leader keeps her eyes open and can see when a team member would be best to lead specific projects. When that employee has a clear vision, is laser-focused & can motivate others, it’s time to let them lead. You can lead from the back. You’ll see your leadership skills improve as you follow the steps in this article.
Initiate & maintain incredible relationships.
Master the ability to connect with others. Establish and nurture your relationships. Small talk is underrated, misunderstood, and underused.
Before a meeting begins or when meeting new people is not a time to talk about the weather or other superficial things. These times are opportunities for you to establish strong relationships with people. Here’s how to make small talk the right way.
Improve the delivery of your messages.
Make them easy to understand and persuasive. Our brains work hard to help us survive & thrive. When people have to work hard to understand you, their brains will soon move on to something else. Don’t lose people when you don’t have to. The easier it is for someone to understand your message, the easier for them to follow your call-to-action.
Use a compelling voice.
Do not use upspeak, whiny, or an otherwise grating voice. Your voice should be attractive, magnetic, and project easily. Listen to your voice on the recorder and assess it like a scientist. Everyone and their mother says they hate their voice. That’s because they’re talking “in their throats,” so it sounds terrible. Then learn to eliminate the tension in your throat and use a mellifluous voice.
You know the folks with the beautiful speaking voices, they have charisma and pull people in. That can be you, too.
Having executive presence is within your reach.
It takes a bit of determination, practice, and self-assessment. It’s well worth it. It’s something positive that will improve your relationships with others as well as your income.
When you want to improve your tennis game, what do you do? You hire a pro, and you practice and self-assess. If you want to become a better marketer, what do you do? You take classes and practice and assess.
Being a well-spoken leader with a commanding presence will get you very far. So put the time in and make it happen. Reach out to me for one-on-one classes. It’s not a luxury; it’s a necessity. 🙂
17 thoughts on “How to Have Executive Presence”
You’ve pinpointed Executive Presence quite well here. It is hard to define but I think you nailed it. These are some great tips, thanks Ita!
Thank you, Raymond! Glad you enjoyed it!
This is by far the most uncomplicated, yet impactful article on executive presence I have ever come across. Communication is such a vital way to model your leadership potential. Great tips shared!
Yes, people seem to think of executive presence as being some type of magic, but if you pay attention to those who have it, you’ll see they do all of these things that people consider “soft skills.” Just by naming them soft skills, they seem less important than technical skills for example. But they are so much more important.
I really appreciate that, Brittney!
Wow, these are solid tips: straightforward, practical, and realistic. I think it’s easy to look at strong leaders with executive presence and assume that they were born that way, but this is often not the case. You’re right that these skills can be practiced and learned. I think as a woman I’ve had to unlearn some of society’s expectations about people-pleasing and being compliant; instead I’m hoping to be more authoritative (on the other hand, I’m sure men have some unlearning to do as well!) Thanks for these tips 🙂
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, being a people pleaser will not register as executive presence!
I really appreciate your kind words, Jen
This is so fantastic! I’m always looking up things like executive presence or dealing with tough conversations and all I find are people telling long and boring stories. But you actually tell us how to make changes! I’m so pumped I found you! Thank you for this. 😊
‘A great leader keeps her eyes open…’ I like that you mentioned ‘her’ because as I was reading I was picturing a strong man but the moment you said her I pictured myself! Great read!
Thank you so much! Pronouns are tricky. I don’t want to leave anyone out. But you’re right it’s important to picture yourself being strong and well-spoken.
I don’t know why I even typed in, how to have executive presence, because I didn’t quite believe it’s something that can be learned. But there’s a guy at my office, who I’m always fascinated by. He seems to always be relaxed, he doesn’t jump to answer questions (like I do) and his answers always seem incredible. He has executive presence!
Now I’m a believer! You’ve outlined this quite nicely. All of these steps make sense. The voice, the relationships–his seem really easy going. And even though he’s not the boss, people follow him.
I’m going to try this, thank you!
I want that!
It is hard to define but I think you nailed it. So executive presence isn’t some magic sauce that some people have and some don’t It’s something accessible if we put a little time into it. Thank You
Before reading this article, I thought there was nothing to be learned. But in 11 simple tips you have covered it all. The most difficult for me is to control my urge of speaking, I always rush to answer and speak the moment someone ask anything. I thought it was a good thing, but this article said it otherwise, which is plausible. I am going to do precisely what you suggested about that. The other tips which was a shocking reveal for me was ‘learn to lead and to follow when necessary’. This is going to be on my phone screen as wallpaper. Awesome article.
Amazing tips are given in this article for having executive presence. Your article is very much appreciated, very useful article 👍
Solid tips, especially “Your body language and facial expressions must supplement and underscore your message.”Alot of people do not realize how import body language is when communicating . You can tell if someone is really listening or is engaged with what you are saying by looking at their face or even how they are sitting.