Executive presence counts (in just two seconds)

Win hearts and minds through executive presence

You have just two seconds to make an impression. Two seconds to make a lasting impression that counts.

In the first two seconds of meeting you or watching you speak, people will get a gut instinct about you. And research shows that initial gut instinct is usually accurate and permanent.

So when you want to make a great impression, those two seconds might be the most valuable you will ever spend.

But what can you do in two seconds?

You can speak six words. For example: “Our product is innovative and successful”. Will that get you buy-in? Probably not. Two seconds really isn’t very long.

It is, however, long enough for you to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere and an aura of professionalism. This is executive presence at its best.

What is executive presence?

Executive presence is an invisible force field around you. At its most basic it consists of your voice and body language. But there is much more to it than that. Executive presence is person-to-person chemistry.

In the same way that we are drawn to friends and potential partners on a social basis, we are also drawn to powerful people on a professional basis.

By allowing your inner self to shine – bringing traits like honesty, integrity and authenticity to the fore – you are likely to stimulate a warm, open response. And that response is almost immediate. It certainly takes place within two seconds.

Seriously – two seconds?

If you have ever locked your car doors at the traffic lights because of someone dubious on the pavement nearby, or if you’ve swapped seats on a train because you felt uncomfortable about sitting too close to a particular individual, those judgement calls are down to gut instinct. And negative gut instinct takes just a couple of seconds to kick in.

Similarly if you have ever been at a party where an attractive person smiled at you from across the room, sparks might have flown. You might have had an uncontrollable desire to speak to him or her. Positive gut instinct also takes just a couple of seconds to appear.

And so we come to the business side of things. The principles are exactly the same. It takes two seconds to make an impression. Good or bad.

Here are ten very different speakers – take a look and decide within a couple of seconds who draws you to them through executive presence, and who doesn’t.

  1. A politician
  2. A young lawyer
  3. An entrepreneur
  4. A student
  5. The COO of a major international organisation
  6. A finance executive
  7. A prime minister
  8. A sound expert
  9. A vice-presidential hopeful
  10. A Chancellor
  11. A Nobel prize winner

Achieving executive presence

Some of the speakers above engender trust through a truly authoritative executive presence. An executive presence that grabs and holds attention and gently persuades people to listen.

These speakers feel comfortable and powerful within themselves. They have vocal gravitas. They are physically convincing and they create a strong, inclusive atmosphere. They own the space around them.

Some people naturally demonstrate executive presence. Others have to learn.

At the root of executive presence is a skillset built around personality aspects which we all possess. If you can engage with those elements of your personality and acquire the skills to support them, you will start to draw people to you as your executive presence grows.

All my programs include some elements of executive presence – the most comprehensive by far being my one year Reputation Raiser program, aimed at ambitious business leaders who want to shine.

If this matches your goals, let me assure you that – with the right guidance – achieving your ambitions is just one step away. Do call for a chat about your aims and aspirations, and let’s make them a reality as soon as possible.