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A Guide to Mastering Executive Presence in Meetings

Learn how you can inspire confidence in others by sharpening your executive presence with these 12 practical tips.

By Brier Cook  •   June 20, 2023  •   7 min read

Picture what qualities come to mind when you think of the world’s greatest leaders. Maybe you first think of self-awareness or integrity. Or perhaps you picture an individual who leads with courage, respect, and empathy. While each of these traits is associated with good leadership, there is one skill that sets good leaders apart from excellent ones: an executive presence. 

Read on to learn about what executive presence is and why it’s important and explore how you can use it during meetings to win over others.

What is executive presence?

Executive presence is one’s ability to inspire confidence in others. Those with an executive presence exude a calm confidence that makes them both inspiring and approachable. The world’s most outstanding leaders have an executive presence that helps them manage workplace challenges. Additionally, those with an executive presence are emotionally intelligent, meaning they can understand, use, and positively manage their emotions. To have an executive presence, leaders must be able to use their emotions to communicate effectively, diffuse conflict, and overcome workplace challenges. 

Run efficient meetings, come to a decision, and get back to work

Have an executive presence in meetings by boosting engagement and productivity with a collaborative meeting agenda. Try a tool like Fellow!

How to have an executive presence in meetings 

1Be prepared 

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Prepare for meetings in advance so you present as organized to others. Before each meeting, take a moment to compose yourself so you aren’t frantic or flustered as the meeting begins. If you’re using software for the first time, test your technology before the meeting starts so you feel confident in your ability to navigate the tool. 

Fellow enables you to show up prepared to meetings by sharing a collaborative meeting agenda with team members in advance, populated with your own talking points to guide the conversation and ensure no important information or updates are left out. Before each meeting, you can also use Fellow to send out automated pre-meeting reminders. Try our 500+ ready-to-use meeting agenda templates to get started today!

2Start and end the meeting on time

Your colleagues should feel confident that their meetings will run on time so they can promptly begin tackling action items once the session ends. If you plan carefully, you should have a good idea of how long each talking point will take to discuss before the meeting begins. Try our meeting timer to stay on track and receive a warning five minutes before your meeting should end. 

3Use your body language

Body language is one way to exude an executive presence without speaking. Nonverbal cues can make up to 93% of our overall communication. During meetings, maintain an upright and open posture by facing the person speaking. Keep track of your hand movements to show that you’re engaged with the group. Before speaking up, take several deep breaths to lower your heart rate and reduce any existing anxiety. When in doubt, smile! Smiling is the fastest and easiest way to communicate openness and warmth with other attendees during meetings. 

4Speak up

Demonstrate calm confidence by speaking intentionally during meetings. Asking relevant questions, practicing active listening skills, and being confident in what you say are some of the most effective ways to raise your visibility and build solid relationships with your peers. 

Fellow makes it easy to speak up during meetings. Instead of waiting for the right time to jump into the conversation, add your talking points in advance and feel prepared to talk when your time comes. 

5Delegate meeting roles

Defining clear meeting roles is another way to organize productive and delightful meetings. The eight most common roles include an organizer, host, note-taker, time-keeper, decision maker, the voice of the customer, optional attendees, and informed participants. If you’re the host or organizer, determine which roles must be delegated in advance so everyone feels ready to do their part once the meeting begins. 

6Assign action items

Action items are the next steps needed to work towards short- and long-term goals. If you want to have an executive presence, you must be able to confidently delegate action items during meetings. Each attendee should leave the session with new tasks based on the meeting outcomes. All action items should have an assigned person and a deadline as well. 

Did you know that you can assign, visualize, and prioritize all your meeting to-dos in one place with Fellow? Once you make clear decisions about who is doing what, add your action items to Fellow, check to-dos off as you work, and carry forward any incomplete items into your next meeting to drive accountability. 

7Keep the meeting on track 

Demonstrate your executive presence by keeping the group on the topic during each meeting. Use the parking lot method to set aside ideas that fall outside your meeting’s main theme. Your meeting parking lot should include “parked” ideas that may be important to reference at a later date but aren’t beneficial to discuss at your current meeting. Our tip: Create a meeting parking lot within your meeting notes in Fellow to improve meeting productivity. 

8Send a meeting summary 

A meeting summary is an email or document that is circulated to all attendees following a meeting with a general overview of the discussion. It’s meant to serve as a reminder of what action items have been assigned so that everyone is held accountable. 

One of the easiest ways to send a meeting summary is by using Fellow. With our tool, you can take detailed meeting notes, highlight key decisions with different colored labels, assign clear action items during the meeting, and share the meeting notes with all attendees. 

9Dress appropriately

As superficial as it may seem, a big part of rapport building involves looking the part. Aim to dress for the impression you want to create with your team. Follow your company’s dress code policy to ensure you don’t stand out from your peers. Make sure you’re appropriately dressed during remote meetings as well to avoid wardrobe malfunctions when taking virtual meetings. Try not to adjust your look during meetings and interactions with colleagues. Habits like re-adjusting your tie and collar, fixing your jewelry, or tightening your shirt straps can be perceived as rude if you do so during important meetings, presentations, or conversations.

10Communicate clearly 

Clear communication can go a long way in making an impact with your peers. Stick to the planned topics as much as possible and ask questions that bring other attendees into the conversation whenever possible. In meetings, speak at a measured pace and enunciate your words. Keep distractions to a minimum by muting notifications on your devices. During and after a meeting, ask follow-up questions or host a Q&A session to make sure everyone is on the same page. Be concise in your pre- and post-meeting communications, too. 

11Ask thought-provoking questions 

A thought-provoking question should offer teammates an opportunity to provide feedback about what they like about a meeting topic, what they don’t understand, and what tools and resources they require to complete their tasks. During meetings, ask thought-provoking questions to show employees that you care about their understanding. Questions like, “How can I best track success as we work towards the next project milestone?” and “How can we as a team contribute to the company’s long-term strategic vision?” are great ways to check in and make sure everyone feels like they can confidently move towards the same shared goals. 

12Avoid multitasking 

Multitasking during meetings will only harm your productivity and rapport with colleagues. Because multitasking is often counterproductive to the meeting’s purpose, it shows your peers that you care little about the ideas and topics at hand. If you want to have an executive presence, show up to every meeting with the intent to participate fully. 

If you’re easily distracted by other tabs during your meetings, try Fellow’s Chrome Extension. Our extension brings your meeting notes and agendas directly into Google Meet and Google Calendar so you don’t have to leave the tools you’re using during a meeting. 

Parting advice 

If you think that mastering an executive presence in the workplace will be an impossible task, think again. In reality, anyone can exude executive presence by building great meeting habits. If you want your colleagues to listen when you speak and respect your ideas, follow our 12 tips to radiate confidence during each meeting. 

Our suggestion: Take note of your behavior, body language, and commentary during each meeting. Ask your peers and managers for positive and constructive feedback regularly to level up your meeting habits, too. Before you know it, colleagues will be turning heads when you walk into a room. You’ve got this!

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