5 Steps to Build your Executive Presence

It’s not what you say, it’s HOW you say it. That’s right. In fact, it goes back to the days of ancient rhetoric and Aristotle himself, who said: “Delivery is of the utmost importance, but it shouldn’t be”. This is what executive presence is all about.

In my practice, I coach and train executives, leaders and high-potentials in all facets of leadership and communication. My clients work with me because they want to be more influential leaders and communicators, and they want their people to be too. And with good reason…soft skills like communication have been ranked as the most important skills that companies hiring college grads are looking for in the next 5 years. Moreover, a company’s culture or workplace environment is built through everyday communication moments. Poor communication skills prevent healthy cultures and act as a barrier to proactive, productive leadership.

If you feel that your skills may be lacking, I’ve put together a list of simple steps you can take to raise your game and powerfully boost your executive presence:

  1. Sharpen your listening skills. If you aren’t fully listening, you may be missing part of the problem or what may be a bigger issue. How can you coach someone effectively if you can’t pay attention? You can’t. There are many ways to become a better listener…take brief notes, signal your brain to listen by nodding your head or slowing down your own rate of speaking, ask follow up questions or paraphrase. Pick 1 or 2 of these to focus on over the next year. Listening is a skill you must practice to get better at.
  2. Have a mini game plan. Effective communicators focus on responding rather than reacting. And they know how to make the most of key communication moments by pausing with intention, getting a proper read on the situation and then communicating effectively. The simple act of slowing down helps leaders avoid emotional landmines and rambling. Stick to clear, concise bullets; less is more.
  3. Act as if. If you want to be perceived as a leader who influences, you must appear confident. Confidence is a mindset, and it comes from doing. Seek out everyday opportunities to share your opinion or ideas, to take the lead on a new project or any opportunity to speak in front of others. I’ll repeat: Confidence comes from doing. If you don’t believe in yourself as a leader, how can you expect others to follow you?
  4. Master the non-verbals of leadership…this is where the rubber meets the road! Non-verbals are everything in your communication EXCEPT the words…facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, volume of your voice, rate at which you are speaking. This is where the bulk of the meaning of the message comes from! If you aren’t selling your communication with your non-verbals, people won’t buy YOU.

Dry, monotone speaking that lacks enthusiasm and conviction won’t get it done. This doesn’t mean you need to            have the charisma of a celebrity. It does, however mean that you want to communicate with authenticity. When it comes to your tone of voice…speaking with conviction and emotion is a good thing. People are moved to action through compelling, genuine and sincere messages, not impersonal, formal corporate agendas.

  1. Conduct a language check-up. Many companies have CORE VALUES. Are you a steward of those values that you and your company have agreed to during your interactions? Consistently? Are you holding true to those in your language and how you communicate?  When it comes to the language of leadership it’s about changing the dialogue – and as leaders – IT STARTS WITH YOU!
  • Instead of: “What if we run out of resources?” Change to… “What is the best way to use our resources?”
  • Replace: “What if we don’t win the contract?” try … “What can we do to win the contract?”
  • No more: “We can’t , he can’t, they can’t” or … “that’s how it’s always been done.”
  • Weaving core values into your everyday language is HOW you translate core values on a whiteboard into everyday communication; building a healthy, positive and productive culture.

Communication and your executive presence is the expression of your leadership. Follow these steps and you can quickly and effectively uplevel your results in 2019!

For more leadership and communication tips, I invite you to connect with me further on Facebook at Stevens Coaching & Consulting, Instagram @bizcoachmaria, or email me at