Developing Executive Presence

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People are not born with executive presence.

Our CEO, Jessica Chen, struggled with developing executive presence because of two values taught to her while she was growing up: 1) to not draw unnecessary attention to oneself, and 2) to act more demure and reserved, because women should not come off as “too aggressive.”

For years, she carried these ideas of how she should act, and thought that her work would just speak for itself. She followed this formula to a T until she realized that it just simply did not work.

Digging deeper led her to the recognition that executive presence wasn’t just spontaneously reserved for those who were leaders. But rather, those cultivate it are those who are then seen as leaders.

Here’s the secret: having executive presence does not correlate to how much or how frequently you talk. In fact, you can carry gravitas without speaking much at all. And when you do speak, you speak slowly, even lowering your pitch a bit.

Additionally, you project your voice and speak through your diaphragm, vocalizing your thoughts with certainty and conviction. Projection isn’t about being loud and disturbing those around you, but rather stating your points slowly and intentionally.

Jessica recently practiced these techniques with a Soulcast Media client who was entering the world of venture capital. She worked on lowering her voice to a deeper – but not unnatural – pitch, talking at a slower pace, and speaking with more poise. That change alone dramatically increased her presence. As a result, she admitted to feeling more confident in her speaking, as she could now choose her words thoughtfully, without rushing through them.

So – what do you think? Is executive presence something you’ve mastered? Or is this something you’ve been wanting to work on? Let us know by commenting your experiences below – looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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