Top 8 Communication Blunders that Destroy Executive Presence

Executive-PresenceAccording to Sylvia Ann Hewlett from CTI (Center for Talent Innovation) in Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, there are several communication blunders that can destroy your executive presence  when you speak:

  1. Signs of nervousness, such as breathlessness, sweating, trembling or stammering
  2. Constantly checking your phone for latest messages
  3. Signs of boredom, foot-tapping, doodling
  4. Being long-winded, rambling and repetitive instead of getting to the point
  5. Relying too heavily on notes or other props
  6. Signs of strong emotions such as crying, anger, frustrations, etc.
  7. Lack of eye contact
  8. High-pitched or shrill voice

How can you tell you’ve wandered into one of these communication traps? Experts suggest listening for coughs, clearing of throats, and fidget factors. Are members of your audience checking their notes, phones, nails, or adjusting their sitting positions? Do they maintain eye contact with you, or are their eyes wandering elsewhere. All these are signs that your presentation is loosing their attention.

It may seem that the tonality of your voice is innate and uncontrollable, but it’s not. First, you’ll need to get some brutally honest feedback on your voice. Research confirms that a high-pitched voice, particularly for women, is a career-buster. A voice in the lower-frequency range will encourage others to see you as successful, sociable, and smart, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Voice.

You can and should do something about your voice. Deeper voices are seen as more attractive and better for leaders. After controlling for experience, education, and other factors, scientists found that a drop of 22 Hz in voice frequency correlated with a $187,000 bump in compensation.

Margaret Thatcher struggled with sounding like a shrill housewife during her leadership of Great Britain. She was known to use warm water and honey to lower her tones, especially after speaking for long times under stress. The lower your voice, the greater your leadership presence and the likelihood of running a large organization.

What are you doing to improve your communication skills? The devil is in the details, as they say. I’d love to hear your thoughts You can contact me here and on LinkedIn.

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