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The Sounds of Executive Presence: How Your Voice Can Help You Attain More Presence in the Workplace

Picture it: You’ve got a big meeting scheduled with your boss where you know your future will be discussed. You are ready for your next promotion. Your recent ideas have been top notch, your work has been outstanding - they agree. Then come two dreaded words: everything is great, but you need to develop more ‘executive presence’. Meeting ends and you leave not only without a promotion, but wondering what exactly is executive presence, and how do you find it?

Executive presence is a combination of characteristics and behaviors that contribute to a person's perceived leadership and influence in a professional setting. It encompasses your ability to project confidence, credibility, and authority, while effectively engaging and inspiring others.

Some key elements that contribute to executive presence: confidence, poise, composure, effective communication, authenticity, emotional intelligence, influence and impact.

Now you’re probably thinking, "I’m confident and composed! I communicate clearly and effectively, and my work has been so top notch. Why haven’t I received this sort of feedback before?"

When you arrive at this moment, here at Peacock Voices, we think this might be a sign to check in with your speaking voice. Confidence, poise and composure, effective communication, authenticity, emotional intelligence, influence and impact are all characteristics that can be impacted by the sound of your voice.

We wanted to take a moment to break down the above categories and give you tactical vocal choices that might aid in bolstering your executive presence.

Confidence: In your voice, the sound of confidence is influenced by your diction, volume, inflection, speed of speech, and use of silence. We also suggest thinking about your pitch home (the natural pitch where your speaking voice centers) and resonance or the space created to make your sound either bright or rich and dark.

Poise and Composure: While this is situational, use of speed and silence are two vocal characteristics that can really make you appear poised and composed. Volume and resonance can also be contributing factors.

Effective communication: We think it’s safe to say that a strong mastery of all vocal attributes will lead to the most effective communication. You need to have clean crisp diction, natural but excited inflection, balanced silences, a healthy resonance and pitch home for your voice to be effective and ‘executive’ as your career evolves.

Authenticity: As we said in our blog post about how to get the yes, this one is totally up to you! What are the markers of YOUR vocal brand and think about what you want to capitalize on as you develop your executive presence?

Emotional intelligence: At Peacock Voices, we think this is such an interesting characteristic to express vocally. At the core, we’re talking about the manipulation of your voice to reflect the emotions you are trying to communicate. Ultimately, this will help your voice create the workplace culture and tone you’d like to set among your colleagues. If you have full command over your voice, you can command any culture you want to, even if it’s in opposition to what you are actually feeling!

Influence/Impact: Vocal inflection is one of the primary tools you can use to be influential and impactful when you speak. Having strong command of silence and speed, along with rich resonance will also help you wield influence and impact.

As you look at the above list, take an inventory of your current tendencies in one-on-one conversations with your boss and when you lead a presentation or conversation in a larger meeting. If you find there are areas (such as understanding how to effectively employ silence or add a bit more vocal inflection to your speaking) your voice is there to help!

We also would suggest grabbing a coffee with a trusted work friend and ask how they hear your voice (again, voice - not ideas) during meetings, pitches, etc. Their feedback, particularly when they’ve got knowledge of your work culture and climate might help uncover vocal blindspots that have been standing in your way.

Having knowledge of the vocal traits that can help you exude Executive Presence will, we hope, help you navigate tactical vocal choices you can be making at work with your colleagues to lead to your next promotion!


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