Innovation You: Stand and deliver to get ahead
Friday, April 17, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
"When you're saying the same thing as your competition,
it comes down to how you say it," leadership coach Mary Civiello told more
than 100 NEW members at the fourth NEW Innovation You webinar, "Executive
Presence," April 15, 2015.
"For many women, executive presence — or lack
of it — is a roadblock," Civiello noted. The career expert urged
listeners to examine three core factors of executive presence: gravitas,
communication and appearance.
Gravitas, "the feeling that you deliver," is
bolstered by credibility and confidence. Even a simple posture of 'leaning in'
when delivering a message shows that you're engaged.
Be aware of "your look, the lean-in, firmer gestures
and firmer eye contact," Civiello advised, noting factors that convey
"The biggest piece of gravitas is confidence,"
Civiello said. "Think about what 'confidence' looks like — and
fake it until you make it."
To enhance communication, deliver your message as three
slices of pizza to three sections of your audience. "Deliver with your eye
contact. Finish your first sentence on one part of the audience. Finish your
second on that second part of the audience. Finish on the third."
PowerPoint is a valuable tool, which brings with it unique
considerations for executive presence. "Interpret," Civiello advises,
"because they can read." Otherwise, by reading every word one can
fall into what some call "corporate karaoke."
It takes an audience nine seconds to get distracted, says a
recent study. "That does not mean a complete tune-out," Civiello explained,
"that just means people start thinking about other things. That makes it
incumbent on us to re-engage, such as asking questions, to stay
Women can train their vocal impact to executive levels,
without resorting to "mimicking" men. "In general, we want to
lower our range. The good news is that we women have a big vocal range, the bad
news [is] we can get squeaky when we get nervous." Using a lower vocal
range while remaining natural is ideal.
Don't use "up-speak," bring your voice down with
conviction, Civiello said, adding that "vocal fry," the low, popping
vocalization trend considered by some a disorder, is a sure way to irritate
When it comes to appearance, you are your own best visual.
"That can be a challenge—because we have so many
choices!" Civiello remarked She offered three criteria to best
present yourself visually: Anything that distracts detracts, dress for the job
you want and look among the best in the room.
What about when things go wrong? "Women get less input
from their bosses," Civiello observed. "They just do. In part,
because many have male bosses and they are afraid of women getting angry,
defensive [and] emotional."
"Don't say the first thing you think," Civiello
advised, adding that it's important to calmly ask what someone's criticism
means, "while pulling executive presence together. Your face should say 'I
hear you/I'm considering.' Speak slowly, lower your tone."
The NEW Innovation You learning series of eight webinars led
by popular career experts continues with "Courageous Leadership" on
May 20, 2015. The series is free to NEW members. Non-members may view webinars
for $99 each. Join
Mary Civiello of Civiello Communications Group