This is the third chapter of our four-part series, tips for Speaking to Decision Makers.
We hear a lot about Executive Presence these days--that amalgam of trust, temperament, competency, and gravitas. One aspect of executive presence is how your personal, authentic style comes through. Are you commanding in your delivery? Do you demonstrate command of the room? In today's blog we look at 10 key tips to create that presence.
- Take a stand.
- Balance your weight over your feet with your feet under your hips. Avoid a wider “macho” stance. Even a slightly wide stance can be perceived as overly authoritarian. Release any tension in your knees to get grounded.
- Stand tall.
- An easy way to adjust your posture is to: a) raise your shoulders straight up, and then b) press them straight back, and then c) drop them down. A tall posture makes you look and feel more alert and more confident.
- Illustrate content with descriptive gestures.
- You can use your body as a visual aid. Make lists, show time progression, illustrate scale (large and small numbers, for example) with your hands. Be sure to get your arms up and away from your body, so your descriptive gestures will be seen.
- Avoid a cover up.
- Holding your hands in front of you, clasping them in the “fig leaf” position, crossing your arms — all these “coverup” gestures make you look scared. Relax your arms when you are not gesturing to look confident and be free to make gestures.
- Get into Zone 2 with your body language.
- You are in Zone 1 if your hands and arms are close to your body, perhaps below the belt. Zone 3 is the opposite: your arms are hyper-extended, perhaps above your head. Generally, stay in Zone 2 (with your arms comfortably away from your body and above your belt) for that look of confidence and presence.
- Open your mouth.
- If you are holding stress in a clenched jaw, you may be inhibiting your ability to articulate. So loosen up before you speak. Stretch out your jaw as if you are yawning. Your vowels will sound rounder and richer as a result.
- Look people in the eye.
Steady eye contact (interaction) with individuals is not only a credibility booster, it will provide cues for reading the audience reactions. Try to include each decision maker strategically. Maintain eye interaction if challenged.
- Sharpen your articulation.
- Speakers who pronounce consonants crisply may be rated as smarter. Listen to a recording of yourself speaking so you can identify sounds you are not pronouncing well. Then exaggerate those sounds when you are practicing on your own (in the car?). Soon your muscles will be trained, and you’ll have crisper articulation without even thinking about it.
- Warm up your voice before you speak.
- Don’t let your opening words be your warm up. Vocalize low pitched sounds (privately) before it’s your turn to speak. Your voice will immediately sound more resonant, and you’ll find it easier to project without screeching.
- Boost your confidence with the Power Pose.
- Amy Cuddy’s research at the Harvard Business School suggests that if you stand for 2 minutes in a “power pose,” stretching out into all your personal space, you’ll lower the stress hormone cortisol in your system and feel more courageous. Try it.
Related Blog Posts: 16 Tips For Improvisational and Listening Skills, 16 Tips For Creating A Winning Organizational Framework, 6 Strategies for Surviving Executive Presentations, and Avoid Slide Misinterpretation