Helping Find One’s Executive Presence
The old adage “image is everything,” is especially important for today’s CEOs. The way a corporate leader presents themselves has a profound impact on how a company is viewed. A CEO with confidence and the ability to command a room is seen as a leader. A chief executive lacking confidence, and the skills to communicate effectively, is often on shaky ground.
The key for a successful executive is to develop the right combination of confidence, credibility and conviction. Together these characteristics make up one’s “executive presence.”
A leader with executive presence speaks clearly and articulately, communicating with passion and energy. They stand tall, make eye contact and exude confidence with an authoritative voice.
One-on-one coaching is the most effective way to develop executive presence. Through a series of coaching sessions, Edelman’s Corporate Affairs team has helped numerous CEOs build their assertiveness and executive presence. It often comes down to mastering three components:
- Act the Part: Through a series of exercises, an executive can learn how to take control of a room, carry themselves on stage and project poise under pressure. Lessons also focus on eye contact, body language and posture. A key component is instruction on the “power pose,” an open expansive pose that projects confidence and leadership.
- Sound the Part: It is essential to instill confidence in an individual. Through a series of exercises, an executive coach can strengthen the way a CEO delivers his or her life narrative and the story of the company, ensuring they are delivered with clarity and confidence. Through a series of workshops, presentation skills are strengthened and refined. A “podium presence” is instilled, where the podium becomes a presenter’s island but he or she is able to freely walk the stage with confidence. The executive is also taught how to interact with an audience and is prepared to answer questions and get a message across using techniques such as bridging, flagging and repetition.
- Look the Part: An executive’s professional appearance makes a powerful and lasting impression on clients, business partners, stakeholders and employees. Appearances say something about who a person is and the company they represent. Mismatched, ill fitted clothing and a bad haircut can send a message of a poor work ethic. If an executive wants to be seen as a CEO, he or she has to dress the part. For men, conservative, well-tailored suits, a crisp white shirt, a solid “power tie” and a simple pair of wing tips. For women, the executive look can include dressy slacks a perfectly cut jacket and pumps. The key is to always focus on the fit. A too-big garment looks sloppy, while too-tight pieces are inappropriate for the workplace.
Through a combination of personal consultations and professional workshops, C-suite leaders can learn the art of “executive presence” and project an image of confidence and power.
Sean Neary is an executive vice president, Corporate Affairs, in Edelman D.C.