When Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals elevated its mission and defined a vision last year, it did so to gain influence within the meetings and events industry as well as to position its meetings professional members to gain influence (and respect) within their companies. The association more recently changed its name from Planners to Professionals to demonstrate that meeting planning is a bona fide profession that can add bottom-line value and improve company performance.
If our industry is to prove its value to corporate leaders, meetings professionals can help their cause and enhance their brand by maximizing their influence and executive presence skills. Individuals are judged by every action, mannerism, and behavior, and humans have the ability to process lots of information within seconds. Our intuition serves as a reliable guide when evaluating others’ body language, mannerisms, verbal and non-verbal communication, and other cues.
I recently attended a keynote presentation by Stacey Hanke, author of Influence Redefined. She argues that you might not be as influential as you think, but you can improve your skills by practicing from Monday to Monday. Hanke says that your team is only as strong as your influence and that many leaders are unwillingly and unknowingly sabotaging themselves and their influence.
Influence—the ability to motivate people to take action—can be directly linked to one’s executive presence. Following are 10 qualities that can help you elevate your executive presence if you apply them consistently throughout your career:
1. Be genuine, open, and straightforward. Cut to the chase and always tell the truth.
2. Exude passion. It shows that you have conviction about what you do—that you care.
3. Be clear. Communicate thoughts, feelings, and insights with clarity, brevity, and simplicity.
4. Demonstrate your intelligence. There’s no way to hide it!
5. Provide insight. Dig beneath the surface and provide depth. Your ability to relate complex concepts and large amounts of data in understandable terms will provide value.
6. Express determination. Be driven to achieve, be full of purpose, and be focused.
7. Project confidence but with enough self-doubt to be objective. Avoid being overconfident.
8. Show humility. Be willing to make and admit mistakes. Misjudgment, fear, and uncertainty—even a small dose of self-deprecation—is endearing.
9. Have courage. Take calculated risks and take a stand when you have a firm belief in something.
10. Have a sense some humor and don’t take yourself too seriously. The right amount, and in the right measure, brings down other’s defenses.