Confidence and grace under fire is one of the top aspects of gravitas, according to research from The Talent Foundation. Today’s question in this series is about being heard. Timing is everything. If you can make a well researched point strongly, particularly in the tough times, you will boost your gravitas and executive presence.
Get in the Game for Gravitas
Q: I get the feeling that other senior leaders are not really listening to what I say when we’re round the table. Yet someone else will make the same point and it’s accepted. Infuriating. It’s worse when I’m with very loud people. How do I change this dynamic?
A: This is about developing your professional presence. It’s hard to know exactly what’s happening here without seeing you in action. But there are three easy things you can try out now and see what works for you. It’s good practice for when you really need to make a key point in the tough times. Do the homework below, practice out loud for 15 minutes and then use one or two of the approaches in an easy meeting and see what happens.
- Work out a clear point of view and call to action that you can deliver succinctly and with conviction. Then practice. If you ramble, repeat yourself or use words like maybe or perhaps you are undermining yourself. A point of view is a 30 second nugget of good thinking that supports the objective. The call to action is your 15 second advice on what should happen next. It’s the point you would make if you only had 45 seconds. It’s useful to start by saying “To be successful… or To achieve x we need to ….”
- Get in the game. This means that before you even speak people need to be aware of your presence. Walk in tall, sit up, lean forward to listen to someone else talking, ask a question, look involved, interested and relaxed. Sit in a power position in the room – in easy line of sight of the key players and avoid being hidden.
- Use an easy vocal strength tip. Before you speak, take an intake of breath or use the current speaker’s name to signal you are about to make a point. Then emphasise the consonant at the beginning of the first word of your sentence and the first word e.g. the W in what. Then decide which are the ‘money words’ in your point – essentially the key words you need to emphasise in the sentence. Underline them in rehearsal. This will slow down your delivery and make it more impactful.