Executive Presence Made Easy

by Mary Jane Mapes


Did you ever wonder why certain people enter a room and, without saying a word, others notice them and think to themselves, “Now there goes someone with star quality!”

What is it about some people that allows them to not only grab, but maintain that kind of attention and almost instant credibility? Personal presence.

Want to be that person? Consider the following:

Be Present

Capitalize on that brief, but powerful moment on stage or in a meeting—when you’re being introduced or expected to speak. If on stage, for example, at an IAAP Summit, come downstage center, pause for a moment, and make an eye connection at random with members of the audience (do the same around a conference table); remain unhurried and confident while focused on them. In the first few seconds, listen for the sound of silence, as every eye and ear turn toward you, waiting for the first words out of your mouth. Then, with your eyes still on the audience, speak carefully chosen words that grab their attention, heighten anticipation, and introduce the topic you’ve prepared and practiced. Allow the audience to experience the fullness of your presence and the power of your message.

When meeting someone for the first (or the tenth) time, it’s also important to get present. Did you know that if you shake hands upon first meeting others, they are twice as apt to remember you? Did you know that if you don’t do a few other things to accompany that gesture, you might be remembered, but not for the reasons you’d like? Being present is critical to being remembered in the most positive way.

Be Interested

See, Smile, Lean In, Touch, and Repeat their Name

Psychologist Robert Caldini, in his book, Influence, discusses the impact seemingly simple gestures have on our ability to influence. For example, if you meet people for the first time and look them in the eyes when taking their hand, give a firm shake, smile, and say something positive like, “Nice to meet you, Mary. I’ve heard good things about you,” while still shaking their hand, you’re more apt to positively impress. Then, if you raise your eyebrows upon seeing the person (a gesture that lights up your face), as if it were a pleasure to meet them, you’re apt to be found that much more likeable. If you take time to chat for a few moments, and lean in just a bit, keeping your focus on that person, you just might wow. Finally, if you add just one more little gesture—lightly touch that person’s forearm while repeating their name again before departing—you will clinch the introduction, making yourself unforgettable in the most positive way. Your presence will surely be felt because you’ll have made yourself so present to the other person.

Be Real

Being real involves being present, listening deeply to others, and making yourself vulnerable by sharing something of yourself so that people experience you as authentic. Your body language, coupled with a genuine interest in others, is key to being seen as someone with executive presence—someone with star quality!

IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event.

Mary Jane Mapes | Leadership | Relationship Strategist
Founder and President, The Aligned Leader Institute, LLC
maryjane@maryjanemapes.com | Office: 269-324-1847; Cell: 269-720-6398; Fax: 269-324-1848


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