The Three V’s of Executive Presence

Many businesspeople have asked over the years how they can project more “executive presence” in their meetings and presentations. Mastering the three V’s will give them presence when they must be in front of people.

The three V’s of executive presence are:

  • Visual: How you look
  • Vocal: How you sound
  • Verbal: What you say

When asked to lead a meeting or give a presentation, many people tend to focus most of their time and effort on the verbal. They often agonize over what they are going to say while giving little thought to the visual and vocal components. However, study after study has shown that the two areas with the greatest impact on an audience are visual and vocal-how you look and how you sound when delivering the verbal.

Individually, each speaker should be the subject matter expert (SME) of their content. Therefore, I will focus on the visual and the vocal components.

VISUAL (How you look):

  • Be dressed the same as or one notch above your audience.
  • Look people in their eyes when speaking to them.
  • Gesture appropriately, above the waist and away from your body.
  • Balance your stance with your feet apart about inside width of your shoulders.

VOCAL (How you sound):

  • Vary your volume between 5-8 on a scale of 1-10.
  • Pause and breathe at the end of every sentence.
  • Use inflection to emphasize key words or points. Let your voice be your highlighter.
  • Eliminate filler words or sounds. (Ums, ahs, like, you know, okay).

By doing the visual and vocal skills listed above, coupled with your subject matter knowledge, you will convey the “executive presence” so many speakers strive to achieve. In addition, you will also achieve several other benefits.

Benefits of Visual and Vocal Skills:

  1. You will look and sound like you want to be there.
  2. You will be perceived as confident, knowledgeable, professional, and credible.
  3. You will connect with your audience by making eye contact.
  4. Your gestures will allow you to “own your space” and help the audience to stay engaged by you being emphatic or descriptive.
  5. Pausing to breathe will reduce filler words. It will also give you time to think about what you want to say next, while also giving your audience time to process what they have just seen or heard.

These are just some of the skills that will help convey executive presence in front of an audience that so many strive to project.

For more information on conveying executive presence, check out Executive Presentation Skills®, as well as Delivering Memorable Presentations™. Both are delivered as in-person and virtual programs.


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