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March Madness Teaches You How to Command The Room With Your Next Speech

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It’s that time of year again: March Madness gets down to the Sweet 16. High pressure scenarios like this can make us or break us. March Madness is no different: it tells us much about leadership and performing. Both are essential to elevating your presentation skills with executive presence.

So what exactly is executive presence and why do you want it? Executive presence establishes you as a compelling speaker, someone to be followed and listened to. There’s a reason the March Madness coaches and teams command the court as they do.

Do you want to exude confidence and inspire action like the teams that make up the Sweet 16? You need executive speaking presence.


It’s a fact: people make a snap judgment within the first few seconds of meeting you.

Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy says one of the first questions a people asks themselves upon meeting you is whether or not they respect your capabilities. Would you trust a clean and put-together person or someone sloppy with your finances? How about your project management? What about anything business-related?

March Madness basketball teams all wear their customary uniforms, but their coaches do something out of the ordinary. Donning suits and other formal wear, the coaches dress for a business meeting instead of a basketball game. Dressing for success inspires confidence in the players and can intimidate opponents.

Take a leaf out of these coaches’ playbooks and suit up for your big day. Clean yourself up and show your audience that you mean business.


You’ve seen the March Madness teams take the court. The players don’t slouch out with slumped shoulders–they saunter out. The only thing with more confidence than the players is their self-assured coach, dressed for a mental as well as physical battle of skills.

Cue social psychologist Amy Cuddy once more. Through her intense study of body language, Cuddy has discovered the ability of strong body language to transform a person’s behavior. By striking power poses before, during and after a game or performance, a person can boost their confidence and others’ perception of them.

What that means for you: raise your arms above your head in a “V” for victory before you walk on stage. Cuddy’s statement “Don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it” resonates with anyone who wants to exude confidence from the inside out. If you play the part long enough, you’ll become it.


First, what is gravitas? Think of the most respected and well-versed speakers you know. Gravitas is what enhances their credibility. It’s what separates the players from the winners. Poise, confidence and certainty meld together to form the nebulous characteristic that magnetizes a speaker: gravitas.

Gravitas comes with practice and persistence. The best basketball coaches have statistics to back them up, proven results. They also have the confidence and know-how to make these results possible. This equates to gravitas.By dressing the part, walking the walk and talking the talk, you too can join the ranks of successful speakers. Let March Madness serve as your visual playbook for a successful speech and you’ll be sure to get nothin’ but net.

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