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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Speak It and Look It - Carry Your Executive Presence



I’m passionate about helping people cultivate the concept of an “executive presence.” I’ve written a lot about that, so check my blog for some other content around this topic. Today I want to talk about how important communication and appearance are for cultivating that “IT factor” in your work life.


Be clear

Most often, it’s not what you say but how you say it that matters most. Communicating effectively is key in the workplace. We need to, above all, be clear and concise in the way we communicate in the workplace so that what we say can carry the maximum amount of effectiveness. If you’re messy, disorganized, and careless with your speech, that leeches over into your executive presence and weakens the impact of what you say.


Admit when you’ve made a mistake

Another way to communicate powerfully is to admit when you’re wrong. If you messed up, if you’re fully authentic in your apology and if you can say, “Hey, I’m sorry, I gave some bad advice/wrong data/careless input,” you’ll be making an incredibly powerful statement about your integrity and professionalism. You don’t have to fake it till you make it! Just be honest.


Keep it simple

I love keeping it simple when it comes to expressing myself. You don’t have to use a $5 word to sound impressive. We’ve all met people like that, right? They throw formal words around but still fail to make themselves understood. If you exude executive presence, you say exactly what you need to say, in as few words as it takes to say it, and not one word more. Be clear, not pretentious.


Read the room

Effective communication is an art, not a science, and that means that you have to be able to shift your communication skills on the fly. If you’re presenting something and you feel like it’s not connecting, shift it up! Maybe you need to break out into small groups, or maybe you need to just send what you’re trying to communicate in an email instead. Whatever it is, take it on the chin with a little humor. Change is natural.


Be mindful of appearance

I’m not talking about buying designer everything when I say that appearance matters. You want to look nice, sure, but it’s also about body language and posture. Be properly groomed, but more importantly, you should look at the part of your appearance that impacts how people communicate. What are you projecting to others? Do you slump in your chair? Never smile? Arms crossed? You might be keeping people from connecting with you purely by accident. “Looking like” a leader is not about having a great outfit, it’s about looking attentive, focused, and deliberate in what you do in the workplace.


Cultivating these factors can help you generate a stronger executive presence in the workplace and help set you up to get that seat at the table. Not sure where to start? Click here to schedule a free consultation to jumpstart your professional growth.



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