Simply Said
Simply Said
Simply Said is the essential handbook for business communication.

Executive Presence


The learning and development world is abuzz: "The King's Speech," a movie about King George of England conquering his fear of public speaking, is a blockbuster. For our part, Exec-Comm just hosted an Executive Presence Panel Discussion in New York, with four distinguished panelists and over 100 guests. Here's what our panelists shared on this hot topic:

Defining the term

Professor Terrence Maltbia of Columbia University described executive presence as: “The totality of a leader’s presentation and related impact across all the senses.” Martha Stark of Baruch College and former Commissioner of Finance for NYC, said it’s about “loving what you do and getting others to love it as well.” Kathy Kavanagh, Managing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, pointed out that "presence is really grounded in self-awareness” of how you come across to an audience. At Exec-Comm, we say that professionals with executive presence focus more on the audience and less on themselves; they clearly convey their ideas with passion and impact.

Exploring the benefits

A leader’s executive presence engages the audience and helps them remember the message. Kevin Ryan, CEO of Covenant House, related that “The core of executive presence is the ability to persuade.” He influences potential donors through storytelling. Like the story he told of how a $7 mosquito net saved one child from malaria, while other family members in the same room perished from this preventable disease. Kevin concluded, “Stories carry us so much further than other ways of communicating.”

Developing the skills

Kathy of PricewaterhouseCoopers told the story of a technically outstanding senior manager with the firm who lacked executive presence, and, like King George, it was hindering his career. He worked with a coach to build skills in three key areas: presentation, facilitation and interpersonal skills. Kathy shared that because he openly accepted feedback he grew in many ways. By improving his executive presence, she told us, the manager not only made partner, but also became a senior leader with the firm.

You don't have to be royalty to develop your executive presence. You need a passion for what you do, self-awareness and practice. Please visit our new website to view a video with highlights from our Executive Presence panel discussion to learn more about how we can support your development.

Best regards,

What's your message to the world?

Back to list