Executive presence may be difficult to define, but we know it when we see it. Someone walks into a room, and heads turn. Conversation opens up to include them. When they ask, people answer. When they speak, people listen. When they lead, people follow.
Wherever you want to go and whatever you want to do, personal presence can help you get there. Consider these attributes, skills, traits, habits, and attitudes with the intention to incorporate them into your life.
1. Make your body language congruent with your words to build trust and credibility. When there’s a contradictory message, remember that body language trumps.
2. Walk, move, and gesture with energy. Your passion about ideas, projects, and life in general engages others.
3. Be professional, not professorial. Strive for simplicity. Never use a long word when a short word will do. Express your core idea with strong verbs and precise nouns. Use active voice. Don’t let diction and dialect detract.
4. Heed the highlighter principle. Use your voice—inflection, tone, intensity, pacing, pausing, volume—as a powerful tool to engage others, lead a conversation, command a crowd, and create a culture.
5. Moderate your emotions. Learn to say the right thing at the right time and leave unsaid the wrong thing at the emotional moment.
6. Think strategically. Sort the significant from the trivial. Look beyond the how to the why—or why not. Move a conversation forward toward clarity, decision, or action.
7. Cut through the clutter to focus yourself and others on key ideas and goals. Summarize succinctly. Say it in a sentence.
8. Take a point of view. Few decisions are irreversible. Recommend or make a decision. Then if necessary, make it right. Commit to what you communicate, take ownership, and be accountable for results.
9. Think like Hollywood. Create memorable themes, slogans, and metaphors. Learn to tell great stories to increase mindshare for your ideas and your message.
10. Make what you say and do match who you are. Act with sincerity and intention. Engage emotionally with others by being approachable and demonstrating concern toward them. Learn to listen.
Excerpted from Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader (Berrett Koehler) by Dianna Booher
Dianna Booher, an expert in executive communications, is the author of 46 books. Her work has been translated into 23 languages. Her latest books include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate with Confidence, Revised and Expanded Edition. National media such as Good Morning America, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, CNN International, NPR,Success, and Entrepreneur have interviewed her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues. As CEO of Booher Consultants and as a high-caliber keynote speaker, Dianna and her staff travel worldwide to deliver focused speeches and training to address specific communication challenges and increase effectiveness in writing skills, presentation skills, interpersonal communication, and organizational communication. Clients include 22 of the top Fortune 50 companies. www.booher.com 1-800-342-6621
- Body Language: How Loud Does Your Walk Talk? (booher.com)
- Communication Skills: Can You Persuade People by Asking Questions? (booher.com)
- Customer Service Communication: How Responsive Are You to Your Customers? (booher.com)
- Developing Executive Presence (hbr.org)
- Get Personal to Get More Business (success.com)