There’s no doubt that effective leadership requires a level of executive presence – and this comes into many categories of what’s required to achieve it.
In its simplest form, executive presence is the ability you possess to inspire confidence from people. It’s about inspiring confidence in the people you lead that you’re the one they want to follow and that you’re capable and reliable; most importantly it’s an ability to inspire confidence from other senior workers that you can achieve great things as a leader.
Part of the role of leadership, and your ability to inspire this confidence from people is public speaking, such as giving presentations and communicating with people either individually or as a group/team.
As the saying goes: “All of the important decisions about you will be made when you’re not in the room”.
This saying is very true, and it’s what makes executive presence so important. The decision could be about whether to give you an opportunity or to give it to somebody else. It could be about giving you a promotion or acknowledging your achievements. Executive presence is vital in leadership roles because, behind closed doors without you being there, you have to be able to be present in people’s minds.
It is crucial that you inspire the confidence out of not just your workforce but also the decision-makers, and you have to be memorable. Public speaking is crucial in this because it’s when you’re at your most visible – and thus most memorable.
But what do you do when you have anxiety around speaking publicly?
1. Baby Steps
If you have a fear of speaking in a public environment, throwing yourself in at the deep end is not going to help you and it could make your anxieties surrounding such situations even worse. Starting small is a crucial part of overcoming your fear. Work your way up gradually. If you are a leader with much public speaking responsibility, start small by speaking first to a group of colleagues. Practice your speeches and/or presentations with confidants before going on to presenting them to rooms of strange faces.
2. Power of P
It’s highly important that you prepare, prepare and prepare, especially if you are nervous about something. Preparation is well known to calm nerves and fears that things could go wrong because it alleviates the possibilities of any mistakes happening. It’s okay to be anxious and nervous about speaking publicly, but preparing yourself properly for it through conducting necessary research and having your notes well written and planning what you’re going to say will help calm any fears you may have.
3. Stop Using Slides
Many business presentations are boring and monotonous affairs; filled with things people have heard time and time again and subject points that, frankly, could have been sent in an email. Avoiding PowerPoint presentations can free you from the monotony of repeating what people can already read for themselves and will allow the focal point to be what you actually have to say. Use your notes instead (not read them). This links to executive presence too – it will be you that people are focusing on rather than a PowerPoint slide that they’re trying to read before you move on. Ultimately, be engaging and you will not feel so anxious about people being bored or, worst-case scenario, leaving early.
In conclusion, it is more than possible to overcome any fears and anxieties you have surrounding public speaking. Having such fears does not have to stop you from developing an executive presence that people will remember you for and will make you a great leader that inspires confidence.
Global Conference Speaker, Trainer & Mentor on Executive Presence | Storytelling | Sales Presentation – Inspiring Trust & Compassion To Achieve ROI – Delivery Experience 25+ Years | Best-Selling Author®