In our recent Tips, we have been focused on the topic of Executive Prescence. Each month we are looking at four key elements that contribute to executive presence, and this month’s focus is Communication. We know how important communication skills are, and we know that communication goes beyond the words we use. Many studies have uncovered the fact that how you sound and how you look make a much bigger impact than the message you share.
When considering executive presence, communication is key because it creates credibility in the eyes of others (or detracts from it). Here are ideas and best practices to consider regarding communication:
- Your verbal delivery includes the words you use and how you sound when you deliver them.
- Pacing is important – speak too quickly and your message feels rushed. Speak too slowly and your message feels ponderous. Crisp and clear delivery is optimal.
- Listen-Talk Ratio
- Many executives with strong presence do not feel the need to be the only person talking in a meeting. When others talk, these executives are attentive. By being selective about when they choose to speak, they strengthen the impact of their statements.
- Listening skills are key, as people appreciate a leader who authentically listens to others and considers other viewpoints.
- Presentation Skills
- Strong presentation skills make a big impression, and poor presentation skills make a bigger impression.
- Making good eye contact, moving comfortably in the setting, using hand gestures naturally, and modulating your tone are all best practices.
- Eliminating Distractions
- When it comes to delivering a message or presentation, most people have inherent distractions – filler words they over-use (“um”, “uh”, “like” …) and movements they make (pacing, fiddling with jewelry or clothing, etc.). Identifying what your distractions are and working to eliminate them increases communication effectiveness.
One last element of communication is written communication in the form of email and slides. For many effective executives, the rule “Less is more” is a good one to live by.