Leaders demonstrate executive presence in the way they show up. This is hard enough to do in a conference room, but much more challenging in a video conferencing environment.
Executive presence can mean different things to different people, but it is generally about demonstrating self-confidence, clarity and credibility. When one has it, they are perceived as polished, poised and prepared. Beyond their overall competence and expertise, their executive presence reveals leadership.
Other elements of executive presence may be things such as:
- People notice when you enter a room
- People find you likeable, trustworthy and want to build relationships with you
- You are perceived as important and respected
- You ask timely, relevant and thought-provoking questions
- You are socially aware and able to read the emotional field in a room
- You relate equally well with people throughout the organization
- You are fully engaged and make people feel important
Now that many business leaders are forced to conduct business in a virtual environment due to Covid-19, it’s important to practice leadership presence behaviors that can help overcome this obstacle. Given that you are likely to be doing more and more via video conferencing, it’s important to find ways to optimize your overall executive presence.
Here are suggestions to best demonstrate your executive presence in a virtual environment:
Visual Representation – Fill the frame with your head and shoulders to show you are fully present. When speaking, look directly into the camera like an actor or newscaster as you will appear to be speaking more directly to others. Ensure there is adequate lighting in front of you to fully illuminate your face and be mindful of what is behind you, so it isn’t distracting. Dress similarly to how you would at work, so you look and feel like you’re in a working frame of mind. Don’t get distracted and attempt to multitask as this will be magnified when others are watching you in this environment.
Audio Representation – Talk with a bit more volume as if you are speaking in a large conference room. Your voice will more likely come across as authoritative, confident and credible. Actively listen so that others feel heard by leaning in, nodding and paraphrasing or asking good follow-up questions. When you’re not speaking, ensure you are muted if there’s any potential for distracting noises, such as kids or pets. And don’t forget to unmute yourself before begin speaking.
Leverage Technology – Take advantage of the technology in Microsoft Teams, Zoom Meeting or others by using the chat window to provide useful links to other resources that can elevate the discussion. This will further demonstrate your credibility by expanding the conversation beyond what is directly discussed. Closely watch the people in the video windows and seek understanding when you see strong reactions to what is being said. This can help reveal your empathy for others and strengthening all relationships.
It’s important to first acknowledge that your executive presence is being compromised in this virtual environment. Then accept that even after this pandemic, we are likely to be using video conferencing more and more often. Take the steps listed above to show up in a way that best demonstrates your executive presence, so you continue to rise in your leadership in spite of the environment you find yourself in.