Your ability to connect with others is the critical difference between average and great results. Your style – your executive presence – affects your ability to have the impact you want in any situation, from one-to-one interactions and group meetings to stand up presentations.

The term executive presence can be confusing. Some see it as leadership, others as communication skills, still others as presentation skills.

The best place to start is to consider how you recognize presence. It is difficult to define but most of us know it when we see it. It usually involves being able to connect with others, having a clear and compelling message, and expressing that message with energy and conviction. In our experience, lack of presence is THE most commonly named factor keeping high potential leaders from going to the next step.

Are there consistent, learnable, measureable qualities that characterize a person who shows up in a way that we would define as having presence? Yes. And each of these qualities has to do more with emotional intelligence and less with the content being delivered! The qualities are about how you engage with others. Because 80% of most communication is non-verbal, this means that your audience relies on things other than your message to determine how credible you are.

Where to start?

  • Your ability to connect with your audience is preceded by your ability to connect with yourself (self-awareness). Start there.
  • Take any and all opportunities to get feedback on how you are perceived and the impact you are having (use the videocamera, enlist others for specific feedback on your performance).
  • Get a coach who can be there to guide you.
  • Practice, incorporating the feedback, then practice more.

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