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3 Steps To Boost Your Executive Presence


No one ever taught me how to become an executive.

I did my best to learn from observing others, but I wish someone told me sooner that I needed to work on my executive presence.

These two words—executive presence—represent an “it” factor that is hard to explain. It’s a combination of skills that results in exuding confidence, professionalism, and influence in a way that commands respect and inspires trust among colleagues and stakeholders.

And while I’m sure most of you could identify executive presence when you see it, do you have a plan to help you develop it?

If the answer is no, I want to share 3 simple yet effective ways to develop your executive presence on purpose.

The 3Cs of Executive Presence

At its core, executive presence is a tool for driving influence at scale. It’s all about how you communicate to get your ideas across, gain support, and drive action.

Sounds simple in theory, but how do you develop these vague skills?

You start with the 3Cs of executive presence: clear, concise, and confident communication. These key elements of effective communication will elevate your perception and position you as a leader.

Here are 3 specific actions you can take to develop the 3Cs.


1. Become more clear

Ever found yourself speaking with a stakeholder and realizing you lost them? They start looking around, you lose eye contact, and they clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

That is a sign that you need to be clearer. You shared too many details, and there was no context or clear ask.

How can you fix unclear communication?

Use the "BLUF" method.


BLUF stands for "Bottom Line Up Front." This approach involves starting your communication by first stating the main idea or key message, followed by supporting details or context. It helps to capture the stakeholder’s attention immediately and clarifies the conversation's purpose from the outset.

For example:


“I want to propose a partnership opportunity with [Company Name], which could lead to a 30% increase in revenue and solve [problem], and I need your support sponsoring this initiative.”

After you explain your goal, walk them back through the problem this idea could solve, alternatives or considerations, what it would take, and end with what you need from them.


2. Become more concise

Being concise doesn’t mean being short.

To quote Wes Kao, "Concision is about the density of value." Your goal is to be effective, so you should use as many words as possible—no more, no less. In some cases, it could be a paragraph. In others, it could be 50 slides.

But how do you know where this magical sweet spot is?

You use "AIC" - your audience, your intent, and your content - to determine what is needed to get your message across.

Audience: Who is your target audience? What do they already know about the topic? How much context is required? The more knowledgeable your audience is, the less context you need to provide.

Intent: What is the core takeaway you want your audience to remember? What is the desired outcome? Are you seeking feedback, approval, decision-making, or action? Make your goal simple and clear.

Content: What information is essential to support your key message? Information that doesn’t directly contribute to your goal is probably not required.


3. Show up more confident

I’ve worked with plenty of professionals who knew their stuff and could confidently discuss a proposal when speaking to friends and colleagues. However, when the audience changed to senior leaders, they often froze in fear.

One simple tactic that helps reduce the stress of speaking with higher-ups (and, as a result, appears more confident) is to divide and conquer. Instead of speaking to a cold audience who knows nothing about your proposal, warm up your stakeholders by running your ideas by them in advance.

Speak to each stakeholder individually and get feedback. You’ll get to test drive your idea, remove objections, and have a supporting audience when you finally make the big pitch.


Your next steps

Developing your executive presence is much easier when you know what it takes.

The first step is to level up your communication skills and deliver a clear, concise, and confident message.

You don’t need years of training to communicate like an executive; just consistent action to improve your 3Cs over time.

Start implementing the three shifts we covered today, and you’ll notice an immediate shift in your perception.


I believe in you, and I’m rooting for you.

Maya ❤️

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