Six Practical Tips for Increasing Your Executive Presence
- Stand up straight. "Even if you're not walking onto a real stage, you're entering the business stage — so make it a leading role," Tez emphasized. That means pulling your shoulders back, looking up, and not slipping into a slouch.
- Take several deep breaths. Exhale slowly after each breath, letting go of any nerves or anxieties in the process. Taking a deep breath but not expelling it places more strain on your nervous system and triggers your body's fight-or-flight response.
- Smile and make eye contact. Look at the other people in the room as equals, even if they hold more senior positions. "Remembering that everyone else in the room is human levels the playing field," Tez noted.
- Pause before beginning your remarks. Take a few seconds — or even a half-minute — to collect your thoughts. "One of the biggest mistakes people make is rushing into their remarks without giving themselves time and space to think," observed Tez. "The audience can wait while you compose yourself."
- Slow down. Nerves or high anxiety typically prompt people to race through information they're presenting, which can leave the audience baffled and confused. To defuse internal tension, make a conscious effort to speak slowly and continue breathing.
- Keep hands loose at your sides. Tez often works with executives who clench their hands behind their backs or keep their hands stuffed into their pockets. Her advice to them: literally shake off such mannerisms. "Letting go of your hands helps you relax and gives you more freedom to express yourself. That physical release could add some dynamism into your voice and help you project more confidence — because you're not standing there like a robot but becoming much more yourself," Tez said.