“You might just have a premier college degree and fabulous work experience but to reach a senior leadership position, you need to have a very high credibility quotient. Whether it’s a one-on-one business meeting or a presentation to a room full of people, you need to project a credible presence in order to be accepted and even more important, be respected.” This is what the CEO of a leading bank in New York told his team last week in Mumbai. So when the regional director of this bank called me up today he wanted to inquire if projecting more credibility required a big training intervention. Well I stated that it’s just a bit of tweaking to the presence your high potential talent already possess and that can alter how stakeholders perceive them in a more credible manner. What is comforting and most important is that all these behavioral tips are very doable so it is well within the capabilities of your team.

Let me share 3 practical tricks that can help you project a powerful executive presence and other’s can perceive you as confident-credible-charismatic!

Projecting professional credibility

Projecting professional credibility

Your body posture is so important here and one of the first things you need to look at is how you hold your head. You need to hold it level – which means you hold your chin at a 90° angle to your neck. Make sure you practice this and do it right through the time you are talking or presenting. What it says about you is that you are confident leader but not aggressive. You can do this by standing straight, making your back straight and holding your head high without lifting it too much. When you want to turn, only turn your neck, not your whole body. You also need to focus on your hands. Keeping them still by your side will make you seem wooden but waving them around excessively can also take away from what you are saying. Observe from alpha leaders around you. They make all gestures in the area in front of their chest, without going below the level of your hips. Alpha men also use bigger gestures that are wider than the width of their shoulders. This is the power zone where they gesticulate and co-ordinate their actions with what they are talking about.

The next thing to look at is how you modulate your voice. Many people tend to speak too softly or too loudly. Moreover, so many have a problem of becoming soft at the end of their sentences. Many people end their sentences with a high inflection making it sound like every sentence is a question which could be off-putting to the audience. It is so important to modulate your voice like a preacher to hold your listeners’ attention and yet not put them off by being too loud. It is really so easy to adjust the volume of your voice – all you need to do is to find the optimal level and then practice. Your voice must carry power but it should also denote control. If in doubt, being a little louder might be better than being too soft and not being heard. In order to make your voice powerful and sound like a leader, you could do some diaphragm-strengthening exercises every day because this is the muscle that controls the volume and power of your voice. Try and set aside five minutes a day to do some form of diaphragm exercise, maybe counting out or reciting the days of the week.

Make sure your eyes connect with each team members but not so quickly that they skim over your audience. Hold a few people’s eyes for a few seconds as your eyes go over the crowd. This serves to connect with the people before you and it also helps you hold their attention. If you are not looking at your team to whom you are addressing and looking at some distant point above their heads will give them the feeling that you are not interested in connecting with them or lack confidence. If you want to carry them along with the strength of your convictions and the power of your presentation, you need to hold their gaze – at least some of them – for a while before you move on to the next.

Vikram Kalloo
Executive Coach