Create a Powerful Executive Presence When You Speak – Guest Blog by Dianna Booher

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As CEO of Booher Consultants, Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase their effectiveness through better business communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and cross-functional.  Dianna is a prolific author of 45 books, published in 24 countries, and in 17 languages.  Her latest:  Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader; The Voice of Authority: 10 Communication Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know; Communicate with Confidence: How to Say It Right the First Time and Every Time.  800-342-6621.


The perception of “personal presence” dictates decisions and actions every day.  Buyers make purchases based on the personal presence and persuasiveness of the salesperson. Negotiators with the strongest personal presence, not necessarily the strongest argument, walk away with the best deals. People often start—or decline—a dating relationship based on first impressions. Organizations and nations often elect their leaders based on the power of personal presence.

So instead of resisting that fact, why not understand how to make it work for you rather than against you?


The Essence of Presence

People with presence look confident and comfortable, speak clearly and persuasively, think clearly even under pressure. They act with intention.  People with presence reflect on their emotions, attitudes, and situations and then adapt. They accept responsibility for themselves and the results they achieve.  People with presence are real.  They present their genuine character authentically.  What they say and do matches who they are.


The Power of Presence

Presence can help you get a date, a mate, or a sale.  Presence can help you lead a meeting, a movement, or a revolution. Presence may be used for noble purposes or selfish goals.  Wherever you are and wherever you want to go, presence can help you get there.

Way back in the fourth century, Aristotle identified three essentials of persuasive communication—a big component of personal presence:

––logical argument (the ability to articulate your points clearly)

––emotion (the ability to create or control emotion in your listeners)

––character (the ability to convey integrity and goodwill)


Times haven’t changed all that much.  Being a skilled communicator—whether online or in person––still grants influence.  In fact, communication makes leadership possible––in politics, in the community, in the workplace, in the family.  Think how often pundits and voters alike point out a candidate’s speaking ability and social skills—or lack thereof.  And I’m betting the election cycle and chatter of 2012 will prove no different.

Not only do we expect our presidents and celebrities to speak well, but also that’s the expected norm for CEOs, systems analysts, and soccer coaches.


The Perception of Presence

Although substantive core concepts are involved, you can never measure presence in the same sense that you can measure someone’s heart rate or their running speed.  Subjectivity comes into play.  At work, the limiting label generally comes down to a supervisor’s statement around a conference room table that the person under discussion lacks “polish”….

––“Brilliant.  But not well liked.  Just doesn’t connect with people.”

––“Doesn’t always use appropriate language—too flippant, too laid back.”

––“Too stiff, always looks a little nervous, with that deer-in-the-headlights look.”

––“Comes on too strong. Too intense. Needs to dial it back.”

––“Doesn’t dress appropriately.  Just not what I call classy.”

-–“Rambles.  Knows her stuff, but gets off track and down in the weeds too easily.”

––“Has difficulty facilitating a meeting with a lot of strong personalities in the room.”

Whatever the comment, the superstar hits a wall for a reason, and he or she has no idea what it is or how to “fix it.”

How do you make sure that you develop that certain mystique of personal presence? Day by day, present yourself with awareness and intention.

Seemingly small things can make a big impact.  And it lasts a long time.


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