A few weeks ago I had the privilege to attend a workshop called In Search of Executive Presence. The workshop was given by the inspiring and motivating Shann McGrail. Shann is the co-founder of DEVREVE, a company that specializes in developing communication strategies to help businesses connect with customers, partners, and employees (amongst other things). In the workshop, Shann explained the principles of Executive Presence: that secret ingredient that can propel you forward in your career, in your life and enable you to crush all your goals!
If you want to stop being “that girl” that didn’t get the promotion or the job because there was that “little something” missing, read the following tips Shann shared with us:
Stand in Neutral: Want to convey a calm, powerful presence? Stand in Neutral. How you ask? Stand up – plant your feet hip width apart. Put your hands above your head, and then let them drop to your side. Where they land is what your standing natural neutral position. This will likely seem uncomfortable at first. Practice it while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to get coffee etc. And notice your fan base bow to you (Just kidding! Or am I?)
Three second rule: A lot of us (meaning ME) tend to start talking and forget to take a breath when presenting or conversing. Give yourself three second to respond before answering in a conversation. When presenting to an audience, practice holding eye contact for three seconds per person (if a large room, per area of the room). This projects confidence and builds connection.
Commit: An audience never wants to watch uncertainty. They want to experience commitment and see that you enjoy what you are doing. Here’s an exercise to try – pick something that you have to do. Let’s say it’s going to the bank to discuss your mortgage. Before you step in the door – commit to a position. Maybe you’re excited that you are getting your first mortgage – go with that and hold on to that emotion for the meeting. See everything that comes up in the meeting with excitement.
“I’m Awesome”. Cut the negative talk – it is a waste of time and energy. Here is a simple exercise – leave your next meeting or work function and repeat to yourself “I’m awesome” (or any other positive phrase that clicks with you) at least 3 times and keep in your mind one great thing you did. Take out the space the negative takes up and replace it with positive.
Be Brief, be quiet and learn to interrupt: cut down the number of words you to use. We are conditioned to often fall into “hostess mode” and make small talk so others feel comfortable. The more words you speak to explain, the more you confuse your message. Get to the point, you don’t need to explain the journey. Try this – select a topic, engage a colleague/friend and have a conversation using only 3 words each time you speak. Play around with this and you will notice you can get to the point in far fewer words than we normally use.
Silence is powerful. If you can keep quiet during a difficult moment, it conveys that you are in control. It is especially powerful when there are tough messages or you say something that needs to land and be processed.
Breathe – Exercise: put your hand on the top part of abdomen, deep breath in so that you are pushing out the rib cage. Slowly release on a count of 5. Inhale deeply so that the chest and stomach are filled with air. Calms and quiets you down so you can focus. It also forces you to use silence.
I stepped out of the workshop with a tool box that I knew I could put into practice right away, and I have! The workshop has given me an extra boost of confidence to put my ideas across effectively in meetings and presentations (and when I want to get my kids to clean their room :P).