Executive presence is difficult to define precisely, but you always know it when you see it. It is the ability to exude confidence, decisiveness and poise even under extreme pressure, and the ability to communicate clearly and assertively. Though some people seem to project executive presence so thoroughly they appear to have been born with it, in fact it is developed over time with experience, maturity and training. Most likely, the people you see commanding attention seemingly effortlessly in a boardroom or at a banquet worked long and hard preparing for the event. Executive presence is a skill that can be mastered for public speaking in a business setting. If you need to learn how to boost your executive presence, keep these facets of public speaking in mind.
An executive presence trainer will teach you that the key to demonstrating your assertiveness is to use a firm, loud voice. Do not let sentences trail off or use filler language. Do not fear a brief silence; use it to your advantage. No matter how complex the topic, you should to be able to explain it simply and clearly. You need to exude self-confidence. The audience must be convinced that you believe strongly in what you do and that you are passionate about it. Part of coming across as intelligent and insightful is spending time preparing yourself thoroughly for anything that might come up. You need to anticipate any possible questions and pre-formulate answers, so that you do not have to shuffle through your notes or respond that you don’t know the answer to a question from your audience.
Reading and Engaging an Audience
Executive presence trainers can also help you learn how to properly engage your audience. After a few coaching sessions, you will begin to feel more comfortable with the prospect of speaking in front of large audiences without being afraid of appearing flustered. The audience must feel that this event is not about you but about them. Part of engaging an audience is the ability to think on your feet and deviate from your prepared script if necessary. Do not just speak, but listen. Make each individual in your audience feel important. Answer any questions you are asked with sincerity. Ask questions of your listeners and make it clear that you care about the answers.
Though being sharply dressed is only one aspect of personal appearance, it is a crucial one. Many people do not have an innate instinct for appropriate attire and need personal coaching in learning what to wear. Your clothing should fit properly and be clean and pressed. Your hair should be properly styled and combed, your teeth clean and your nails trimmed. Once that hurtle is passed, from the moment you enter the room positive body language is essential. Whether standing or sitting, no matter your height, you need to keep your back straight and long to appear assertive. Shake hands firmly, and greet people with a friendly but authoritative voice. Maintain eye contact with everyone in the room, as this exudes confidence. Whether standing at a podium or sitting at a conference table, lean slightly forward to appear engaged. Rather than making yourself small by crossing your arms or legs, put your arms on the table or podium to appear comfortable taking up space. These actions may seem silly, but the visual cues you send have a dramatic effect on how you are perceived.
There are many details involved in establishing and maintaining executive presence. The best way to hone your presentation skills is by engaging executive presence trainers to help develop your confidence, poise and appearance so that when you step forward at a large corporate function it all seems to be second nature to you.