Forte Connect
Early Career

Command Attention and Leave an Impression at Work

Being present is difficult in a fast-paced world, but strong executive presence is the key to professional and personal advancement, according to Sandra Corelli, vice president of Corporate Class and presenter of the Women Lead webinar, “Executive Presence: How to BecomeIt and How to Achieve It.”  Corelli says that executive presence is “the ability to connect authentically, build confidence in others and inspire them into action.” She explains how to cultivate your impact on others, change how people experience you, and develop your personal brand.

Corelli’s four pillars are: first impressions, communication skills, workplace action, and appearance.

First impressions matter

First impressions are “fast, firm and very, very sticky,” Corelli said. Formed in just three to seven seconds, first impressions are based on how you make others feel about themselves, and the positive or negative vibes of the overall interaction. First impressions initially focus on how likeable or trustworthy someone seems – if they appear warm and friendly – with credibility or competence coming second.

Formed in just three to seven seconds, first impressions are based on how you make others feel about themselves, and the positive or negative vibes of the overall interaction.

Each interaction leaves an impression, and Corelli emphasises that cultivating a good impression is part of cultivating a personal brand. Determine who you are, what you do and how you add value, and work on conveying this in all interactions.

To make networking in the boardroom or graduate career fairs easier, Corelli recommends preparing small talk topics. These topics could cover current headlines, or what’s trending on Twitter, but definitely steer clear of politics! She also advises having a self-introduction ready to immediately establish how you want to be perceived.

Communication and commanding the room

We overwhelmingly focus on non-verbal communication. Only 7 percent of our judgment is based on what someone says, while 93 percent is based on how they look, act and sound.

Therefore, body language should be consistent with your verbal language. Be confident and commanding, maintain eye contact and good posture, and align your shoulders with whoever you speak to.

Only 7 percent of our judgment is based on what someone says, while 93 percent is based on how they look, act and sound.

Effective communication should demonstrate warmth – smiling can vastly improve your presence within an interaction.

Think about the effect you want to have. Corelli recommends:

  • Taking a moment before entering a room to consider how you want to appear
  • Arriving early before a meeting to reflect on your intentions
  • Choosing a seat where you can make eye contact with as many people as possible
  • Using powerful language – not passive – in both verbal and written communication
  • Listening in a way that evaluates the speaker’s verbal and non-verbal communication, and takes in the atmosphere of the whole room

Appearance: It’s all about grooming

While appearance only makes up 5 percent of executive presence, Corelli emphasizes the importance of demonstrating pride in yourself and respect for those around you. Grooming is imperative and, according to Corelli, more than twice as important as factors like physical attractiveness.

Clean clothes and good grooming are crucial since your presence comes from how you package and present yourself.

For more detailed information, including Corelli’s tips on the 10 elements of style and eight ways to increase executive presence, watch “Executive Presence: How to Become It and How to Achieve It.”

A full library of previous Forté webinars are available to Premium Access Pass members. For $50/year, Access Pass members receive exclusive invitations to Women Lead webinars.  If your company is a Forté sponsor you may be entitled to free Access Pass.  Check our sponsors to see if your organization is involved.  Access Pass members also have exclusive use of the Forté Job Center; you can browse positions and post your resumé to be seen by leading companies seeking top talent.

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