I’ve been writing about executive presence and how to develop a stronger leadership impression. Here’s another tip: Before entering into a stressful presentation or difficult conversation, I often suggest leaders prepare by aligning thoughts, feelings, and micro-actions with their most worthy intentions.
When I’m coaching leaders, we use a checklist before any important event:
- Humans trust actions above other forms of communication. Learn to observe your micro- and macro-actions: your body language, vocal tone, and most importantly, your priorities.
- Before engaging in an important conversation, practice your favorite pre-game ritual, a repeatable process for getting yourself in your intended zone. It could be listening to music or an affirmation, meditating, or reading a favorite quote or something funny to put yourself in a good mood.
- For clarity in your communications, ensure alignment between your intention and your actions. Make known your beliefs, values, and the things you do to advance your intentions. Let people know who you are by letting them know why this issue is important to you.
- Use actions that signal comfort. You already know how to have perfectly aligned body language in situations where you feel comfortable. Observe how you behave when at ease and put those same actions into play when you begin to feel stress.
- Breathe deeply. This sends a signal to your nervous system to relax.
- Focus on your core values and beliefs.
- Make eye contact with people.
- Smile more: 99% of people who see themselves videotaped at work agree they need to smile more. It improves your presence to others and reinforces good thoughts for yourself.
- Pause and refocus Ask questions and make sure you’re tracking with your audience/listeners.
Often, making a good impression and the ability to influence others depend on how well we manage our emotions and physical actions. Whatever you feel, don’t fight it, don’t resist. That only makes it worse. Instead, own what it is you feel. You wouldn’t feel anything if you didn’t truly care.
Manage your actions and reactions by aligning with your highest intentions. Let others know what truly matters to you. Your executive presence will be seen, heard, and felt.