Executive Presence Training: Be A Leader Who Commands Attention

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Confident Executive Presence

Have you ever wondered how you tap into the emotions of an audience? How do you make the executive decision of what they’re going to feel before you’ve even met them? Simple enough—you tell a compelling story.

Stick around on the Moxie Talk Blog. We are going to discuss how to bring emotion back into executive presence.

Hi everyone, I’m Fia Fasbinder and welcome to Moxie Talk, where we help you find your voice, share your message, and lead with confidence.

Today we are talking about how to bring emotion back into your executive presence. Now, stories are the oldest vehicle for human emotion. If they’re told well, they’re impossible to ignore.

Stories are attention magnets

This is an amazing technique to boost your executive presence. Stories let you reel your audience in so you can inspire a full range of emotions—joy, courage, fear, relief—they are all emotions that are felt when we tell stories.

Ask yourself, What sort of stories can you tell that will reel your audience in and help your executive presence?

Stories you can tell: Your own experience

Don’t be shy about sharing your own experience. A lot of people think, “Oh! I can’t tell an audience that!” But audiences relate to your experiences and even dry lists of facts or lists of events become fascinating when you relate them to a story.

You might not know this but audiences retain more information if they experience emotion through your talk and your authentic experience is the surest way to make sure that they retain the information. We’re hard-wired for stories that’s why we remember the information when it’s told through a story.

Stories you can tell: Found stories / Anecdotes of others

If you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t have any stories the audience can relate to,” think about if you can use the experiences of others. If you speak to enough people and if you hit up google long enough, you’re going to find an anecdote to sprinkle in your delivery to keep your listeners hooked.

Stories you can tell: Your mistakes

You can also humanize yourself by sharing some stories about your mistakes. Audiences love to laugh at our mistakes and there’s an old saying in speaking which is:

If they’re laughing, they’re listening.

So portraying yourself as a leader doesn’t mean that you haven’t made mistakes or you haven’t learned from your past errors. This will actually increase your appeal because you’re real and you’re authentic. People can relate to that.

The conviction that no leader has ever done wrong and no mistake has ever been made by anyone in history is totally false. I mean, this is why world wars started, right?

Make sure to balance out your stories by making sure you have some stories about your mistakes but also some stories about your successes. Convey the rush of triumph, the endorphins you felt when you were successful—especially after you made a lot of mistakes on the way.

They say the difference between a know-it-all and a subject matter expert is that the subject matter expert has made mistakes and learned from them.

OWNING YOUR SPACE WITH EXECUTIVE PRESENCE

Your emotions are a great way to reel in an audience. But it’s not enough to own the room. That would be nice, but we also have to own the space we’re speaking in.

Own the space!

A lot of executive presence is actually the way we use our bodies. If you’ve watched some of my other videos, you know that I am a big proponent of a presentation power pose.

All of us get nervous,even leaders. The problem is if the audience can see that nervousness in your body they start to undermine you or feel sorry for you—which is exactly the opposite of executive presence.

Once you have your stories, once you’ve decided what you want to convey to that audience, it’s really important that you practice powerful body language.

Don’t leave power poses to chance — PRACTICE!

The audience only knows you’re nervous if you show them you’re nervous. That means your heart might be beating out of your chest but if you are moving with conviction, if you are using eye contact, if you have powerful body language and fluid hand gestures, they will be none the wiser.

If you’re wondering how to do this, please-please-please watch my video on body language and presentation power posing.

 

CRAFTING A PRESENTATION FULL OF EXECUTIVE PRESENCE

Let’s move on now to crafting a presentation with executive presence. This is super important to make sure that the stories you’re telling and the presentation you’re giving drive the point home.

It’s like driving a race car and making sure that that race car is on a track to the finish line. If you don’t plan out your presentation, that race car is gonna go off track, it’s gonna derail, it’s gonna be slow, the timing’s not going to be right—it’s the same as crafting your presentation.

Most presentation crafting is actually a process of elimination. This is what I call:

Murdering your darlings.

Most of us think that in order to show that we’ve been working, to show all the data, to show all the statistics, we need to put it all into our presentation, right? But executive presence is not that.

Give the right information, not all of the information

Executive presence is making sure you give the right information so that your audience understands why that information is important and what they’re supposed to take away from it, and the synthesis is done for them.

The best leaders know how to give us information that’s not blind information. They give us the information but then they tell us why this information is important, why it matters to us.

Give meaning to the material that makes the cut

There are countless guidelines on how to give information and organize it in a way that makes sure there are takeaways, there’s synthesis, and there’s persuasion.

We also have a video on this if you are confused about What do I leave in? What do I take out? How do I make sure I’m not giving them too much or too little information? Check out some of my videos on how to structure the content of your speeches.

Now, I have been a TEDx speaker coach for a long time and one of the things I learned early on is that TED speakers know how to organize information in a way that persuades us, that motivates us, that inspires us, that sometimes even gives a rise of anger—which is what they want.

I know that boardroom presentations are not TED Talks. However, the way TED speakers organize their information—what they choose to put in their talks and leave out—is crucial to the way we should present when we’re giving any kind of executive presentations.

Again—watch the video, learn how to organize your information, murder some darlings to make sure that you finish your presentation on time, that you’ve given just the right amount of information and, most importantly, you’ve given the why this information matters.

POLISH YOUR EXECUTIVE PRESENCE WITH PRACTICE

How do you make sure that you have all that powerful body language that we spoke about? That your presentation is structured in a way that is persuasive and resonates with the audience? That you’re using all the perfect stories?

The answer is simple—it’s practice.

Now, I know a lot of us don’t like to practice because we don’t know how. We feel other people aren’t practicing. Maybe we feel silly practicing. Or we can put off that big presentation we’re nervous about if we don’t practice it, right? But practice really does make perfect.

The only way to make sure that you are presenting with confidence and executive presence is to practice.

Now, I have a very easy practice strategy that I’m going to share with you.

STEP 1: GESTALT MEMORIZATION

The first step is memorization. When I say memorization, I mean just becoming familiar with your talking points.

If you don’t write down talking points, you need to start writing down talking points—because winging it never works. At Moxie, we are not big fans of memorizing verbatim but write down your talking points.

Make sure you’re familiar with the order!

Make sure that you are familiar with the order. If this is in a slide deck, make sure that you are not going to have that deer-in-the-headlights look when a slide comes up because you can’t remember why that slide was in the slide deck. That’s what happens when you don’t practice.

So you’re going to practice and make sure you’re familiar with the order, and memorize the journey of your talk.

STEP 2: YOUR DELIVERY 

Next work on your delivery, your body, and your voice – to make sure you’re not doing anything that will undermine your executive presence.

Examples include speaking too fast, using filler words, mumbling, having wishy-washy body language, or getting small because you’re nervous. All of these are things that could undermine your executive presence so you want to make sure you’re delivering with confidence. Practice!

Then (I know you’re not going to like this) you have to watch yourself back. It is the most accurate rear view window that you have into your own delivery style.

“Reflect” on your delivery with a video, not a mirror

Anybody that says to practice in a mirror does not know what they’re talking about. Please-Please-Please do not practice in a mirror. If you practice in a mirror, you spend all of your time criticizing yourself and judging yourself.

When doing so, you’re not present and you’re not in the moment. However, if you deliver your talk and you record yourself and watch it back, then you’re really going to see how you present.

STEP 3: GET FEEDBACK 

So you’re going to make sure you’ve memorized the journey, you’re going to do a couple of rehearsals on your delivery style, and then, if there is time: Get feedback.

There is nothing better than getting some feedback from a trusted advisor, a presenter that you really admire, someone in your team, a colleague, or a spouse even. Feedback is the way to go from good to great.

If you’re thinking, “I do not have this kind of time to practice,” any practice is better than no practice.

3 main points

Here is my down and dirty practice schedule: Jot down your 3 main points, and if you’re wondering what those 3 main points should be, check out my video on organizing your content.

You might want to have

  • What?
  • Why?
  • How?

You might want to organize your 3 points into

  • Past
  • Present
  • Future

There are a million different ways

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Benefit

So you’re going to jot down your 3 main points, you’re going to get on your feet, and you’re going to say it out loud to make sure that it sounds the way you wanted to say it.

Then you are going to (if you have time) record yourself. Great! Watch it back once. If you don’t have time, go in and give that presentation. But simply getting one or two practices in will ensure that you give the presentation that you intended to give.

You have a window of 7 seconds

Another great reason for rehearsing is first impressions. Now, the studies say that your audience makes a first impression of you in 7 seconds. By first impressions, I don’t mean necessarily this is the first time they’ve ever met you.

That first impression could be:

Wow! Roger seems really nervous. I’m not sure if I really want to listen to what he has to say.” Or…

Oh! Here he goes again. This is going to be so boring.” Or…

Wow! Fia’s really, you know, her eyes are darting all over the place. She looks like she really didn’t practice and she’s unconfident about what she’s going to say.

Those are first impressions. You want to make sure that within the first 7 seconds you give an impression of,”I know what I’m gonna say,” “I know what I’m talking about,” “You should listen to this and I’ve got a solution that you can trust,“—that only happens when you practice.

The worst is to apologize for not having practiced. So get in those couple of down and dirty practices, and go in there with confidence.

GRACEFULLY HANDLING BLUNDERS

Last but not least, let’s say you go into your presentation and you’re asked a question by the executive team that you weren’t expecting or something goes wrong and you mess up – do not spend all your time thinking about this mess-up or that one question.

Take a deep breath. Remember, you are the subject matter expert. They asked you to speak for a reason—and go on with confidence.

Look, when I was an actor, there was a hard and fast rule that if you dropped something that you weren’t supposed to drop or, you know, your bobby pin fell off and your wig came off… fix it immediately. Wing it, improve it, and fix it immediately.

Make it look like you did it on purpose or just move on.

Do not spend the rest of the play thinking about that mistake that you made. It is no different with your presentation. If something goes wrong, take a deep breath and move on.

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of executive presence. There are so many other facets to executive presence that will ensure that you are commanding a room and people are listening to you, people trust you, and people want to hear what you have to say.

If you want more information on executive presence, I have a couple of other videos that I highly suggest you check out. If there is someone on your team or a colleague that you know has a presentation coming up, please make sure to share this with them.

I hope you liked this blog and found it informative and relevant. Subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel to see all those other great videos that I spoke about.

If you want to take a live class where you can get feedback in real-time from a Moxie Master Trainer, check out our website: moxieinstitute.com. You can sign up right there for one of our live online classes. We’d love to have you!

Let’s meet on the next blog.

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