As professionals, we all know the importance of making a strong impression in the workplace. However, when it comes to standing out as a leader, decision-maker, or entrepreneur, it takes more than just showing up and getting the job done. What sets individuals apart in these roles is often referred to as executive presence. But what is executive presence, and how can we develop it?
Executive presence is the combination of qualities and characteristics that enable an individual to command respect and inspire confidence in their leadership abilities. It's not just about what you say, but also how you say it and how you carry yourself. Executive presence is the intangible quality that separates a leader from a manager.
Entrepreneurship and skills courses can be a great way to learn
executive presence skills. These courses provide valuable training in areas
such as public speaking, effective communication, and leadership. For example,
the entrepreneurship course offered by Creo Incubator includes modules on
developing executive presence skills, as well as mentorship and networking
opportunities to support entrepreneurs in their growth journey.
executive presence skills, it's important to master your inner dialogue, speak
with conviction, be authentic, know your audience, think fast, and deal with
uncertainty, and ace your body language. Here's how you can work on each of
1. Master your inner dialogue:
The voices in our heads can help us plan, reflect, encourage, and make sense of our daily surroundings and experiences, but they can also criticise, tear down and ultimately cripple our own self-worth. By transforming this internal dialogue into one that serves you in a positive way, you can improve your confidence and self-assurance. For instance, Oprah Winfrey is known for her daily affirmations that have helped her to overcome challenges and stay focused on her goals.
2. Speak with conviction:
Effective communication is about understanding and believing what you're saying. Use less 'ifs,' 'mights,' 'I think/believe,' and more 'when,' 'will,' 'I know/trust' whenever you're confident of your knowledge. For example, in his speeches, Martin Luther King Jr. used a powerful and convincing tone that conveyed his passion and conviction for civil rights.
3. Be authentic:
Authentic leaders are true to themselves, passionate about living their purpose, and adding value to others. Executive presence shows your audience how you walk the talk. Any level of dishonesty is a detriment to you, your brand, and to your audience. For instance, the founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, has built a billion-dollar company by being authentic, humble, and relatable.
4. Know your audience:
One of the best ways to elevate executive presence is to know your audience. As you prepare for any business communication, anticipate questions you might get. This is particularly important when facing executives. If you have thought through potential questions and points of contention, you will be well-prepared to respond. For example, when Elon Musk presented his vision for SpaceX to the National Press Club, he knew his audience was sceptical, and he prepared a clear and detailed presentation to win them over.
5. Think fast & deal with uncertainty:
Acting in the face of uncertainty is easier said than done. Nevertheless, leadership requires courage. You must be willing to act even without what you consider to be complete information. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many entrepreneurs had to pivot their business models quickly to stay afloat.
6. Ace your body language:
From the moment you walk in the door, step up to the podium, or sit down at a conference table, your body is busy telling people all about you. By being aware of your body language and making sure it's confident and purposeful, you can enhance your executive presence. For instance, the former CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, was known for her commanding presence and strong body language.
To ace your body language and enhance your executive presence, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Stand tall:
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. This conveys confidence and openness.
2. Keep your head level:
Avoid tilting your head up or down as it can convey arrogance or insecurity. Keep your head level to show that you are focused and engaged.
3. Position your chin properly:
Keep your chin level to convey strength and confidence. Avoid tucking your chin in or jutting it out.
4. Walk in a calm, purposeful way:
Your walk should be smooth and purposeful, with a steady pace. Avoid walking too quickly or too slowly.
5. Make eye contact:
Eye contact is crucial in conveying confidence and credibility. When speaking with someone, maintain eye contact to show that you are engaged and interested.
6. Use facial expressions to reinforce your interest:
Smile when appropriate and nod your head to show agreement or understanding. These small gestures can help to reinforce your interest and engagement.
7. Offer a firm handshake:
A firm handshake conveys confidence and respect. Make sure your handshake is neither too weak nor too strong.
8. Use gestures to reinforce communication:
Gestures can help to reinforce what you are saying and convey confidence and enthusiasm. Use them sparingly and purposefully to avoid distracting from your message.
9. Cultivate a pleasing, yet strong presence:
Your body language should convey a balance between approachability and strength. A warm smile, open stance, and confident posture can all contribute to a pleasing, yet strong presence.
By practicing these tips and being mindful of your body language, you can enhance your executive presence and become a more effective communicator and leader. Remember that your body language should be consistent with your message and the impression you want to convey. By paying attention to your body language, you can ensure that you are presenting yourself in the best possible light and making a strong impression in the workplace.
Entrepreneurship courses, skills training and mentorship can provide valuable support in developing executive presence skills and other skills for entrepreneurs, as well as opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences. For instance, the Creo Incubator offers a range of courses and programmes designed to help entrepreneurs grow and succeed in their businesses.
Ultimately, developing executive presence and other skills for entrepreneurs requires practice and perseverance. By continually working to improve your communication, leadership, and problem-solving abilities, you can become a more effective entrepreneur and leader. The more you practice these skills, the more confident you will become, and the more successful you will be in your business ventures.