Feeling a little invisible at work? Looking for ways to stand out and distinguish yourself from the crowd? It’s difficult to create a strong executive presence if no one knows who you are or what you do. Here are some strategies for building your visibility:
Nurture your network by making one non-required contact each day. Make a call or send a note.
For the required meetings you go to, ask what you can bring or how you can help, like taking the meeting minutes.
Find out if there are other meetings you can attend outside of your department. You’ll benefit from other perspectives and can build your business acumen and value to the organization.
Attend events in your industry both large and small. You can reap different rewards from each.
Volunteer for your professional organizations and be more than a good volunteer, be great. Consider volunteering first for the membership committee. You get to know everyone and can serve as the master connector.
Search out the associations your clients belong to and go to those meetings, too, to stay current on happenings in their industry.
Arrive early to any meeting, if you can. It’s a prime opportunity to introduce yourself to the board members and speaker. Volunteer to help them with setting up or with the registration table.
Get your name in print. Write for trade publications, op-ed pieces, client newsletters.
Consider attending an event outside your industry. Be the only one there who does what you do!
Attend at least one conference in your field. Conferences provide valuable relationship-building opportunities and can bring you national and international visibility.
Do a presentation or panel discussion at the conference. Opportunities abound for those who can deliver a solid presentation.
Additional Ideas –
Volunteer for a special project or task force.
Chair a committee (and chair it well!)
Develop a diverse network of people, including people from all areas within your organization. Be the person who knows where to go to get answers.
Adapted from “It’s Your Move: Dealing Yourself the Best Cards in Life and Work,” by Cyndi Maxey and Jill Bremer.
With apologies to Liam Neeson, team presentations require a “very particular set of skills.” They shouldn’t be thrown together at the last minute or delivered without a work-through to figure out how all the pieces are going to fit together. To be successful, team presentations need to factor in all of the following techniques.
- Plan to rehearse all together in-person at least once, if you can. You may not need to go through it word-for-word, but you do need to practice how you’ll handle the presentation introduction, #speaker transitions, conclusion, as well as any planned and unplanned Q & A. Figure out where everyone will stand (or sit) while they wait to speak, how they’ll pass the remote clicker to each other, which direction they’ll exit the space after speaking, etc. A quick walk-through will prevent fumbling and bumping into each other.
- As you’re waiting on the sidelines for your turn to speak, stay focused on the speaker. Your side conversations and phone scrolling will pull focus. Whatever you look at, we’ll look at, so make sure that’s the speaker.
- Whoever kicks off the presentation at the top should include a self-introduction, as well as an intro of every team member waiting in the wings. They should wave or nod when they hear their name called so the audience can start to put names and faces together.
- “Lectern #etiquette” says that the speaking area should never go unoccupied. Each team member should wait to surrender the space to the next speaker. As you transition to the next person, stay in place until they reach you, then walk away. I recommend taking a step back as you exit so you don’t walk right in front of them.
- Good teams turn speaker transitions into an art form. What not to do: “So I’ll turn it over now to Bob.” Preferred: “And now I’ll bring up Bob, who’ll talk about the best restaurants in Chicago—so you’ll always know the right place and the best price. Bob?” What makes the second example better? The speaker not only shared Bob’s name, but also set him up for success by teasing his topic and the audience relevance. You’ve done the heavy lifting for Bob and all he needs to do is deliver on your promise.
- If you plan to end with a formal Q & A, all team members should reconvene front and center. You don’t want someone answering a question from the side wall. Don’t talk over each other during Q & A, either. If two people start answering at once, one person will need to let the other continue. If you disagree with a teammate’s response, please don’t throw them under the bus in front of everyone. “But John, don’t you remember? This was already agreed upon last week!” Instead of “but”, use the old trick of “yes, and”. “Yes, and I’d like to add to John’s answer that the board did vote to move forward last week.”
© 2017 Jill Bremer
I mean, c’mon, what use do they serve? I realize this might be a shocking idea or make you nervous, but ask yourself—are title slides really necessary?
Every slide presentation I’ve ever sat through has always started with a title slide up on the screen. And what’s the problem with that? The problem is that it forces speakers to stand off to the side so they don’t block the screen, which conveys, right off the bat, that the slides are going to be the most important element of this presentation. The screen becomes the all-powerful god for the audience to worship while we stand out of the way. The opening of the presentation is the prime opportunity for speakers to connect with the audience and establish credibility. This is the time we should be setting ourselves up as the primary message-giver.
The power position in any room is always the center point upfront. And rooms are staged so that screens are in the center with projectors aimed right at them. Audience chairs are set so they can’t help but look at that center front spot, too. So whatever is front and center will be what the audience will focus on. And at the start of your presentation, shouldn’t that be you?
Instead of using a title slide, BE the title slide! Have a black screen behind you and use the opening of your presentation to set up your topic, objectives, key points, and the audience relevance. Don’t hide behind a lectern or table. Come out from behind the furniture, stand center, make eye contact, and engage the audience. Then, when it’s time to show the first slide of consequence, back up as you click the clicker and stand to one side of the screen as you speak to what it says.
- Feel free to add a title slide to the handout you give them, just delete or “hide” it for the live presentation.
- If you like, use a title slide as people enter so they can confirm they’re in the right place. Then go to black as you start speaking.
- Eliminate the “Thank You” or “Q & A” slide at the end of your programs. Just like the beginning, it’s best to end on another black slide so you can once again be front and center for the Q & A.
Do everything you can to have a dynamic start to your presentations. Take that moment in the spotlight for yourself. Don’t let yourself look like an usher in your own movie theater!
© Jill Bremer 2016
That’s the question every person in your audience is asking—“what’s in it for me?” Too often, we construct our presentation content around what we think is important, what we believe needs to be covered and why. We develop key points, find data and examples, and create visual aids to support our viewpoint and recommendations. But we often forget what our listeners most want to know – What does it mean to them?
What is this going to cost in terms of time, money, effort, or resources? Or what is it going to save? Is this going to benefit the organization, the company, them personally? If you fail to articulate this, you fail to make your content relevant to them.
“…And you’ll see that the cost savings will be significant, over $40,000.”
“…And if you agree to the 3-point plan I’m going to lay out, you’ll see bigger bonuses as a result.”
“You’ll be able to experience a 25% reduction in man hours.”
“Doing it this way will help the company expand into other markets in record time.”
If we mention the W.I.I.F.M. at all, it’s usually at the end of the presentation. But I’d like to suggest that we share the relevance sooner, in the opening remarks. When we do it up front, we get their mental buy-in to continue listening to us. They’ll be thinking, “I like the sound of that, tell me more!” You’ll get more heads-up-and-off-their-phones-and-handouts listeners. Plus, they may even hold their questions and interruptions because they don’t have to force this very one into your content.
Think there’s no good W.I.I.F.M. to share? It’s going to cost a boatload of money or make everyone work overtime? Spin the W.I.I.F.M. until you find the silver lining: “It will cost $1.6 million upfront to implement, but the cost savings long term will be significant.”
Clear, concise presentations and reports should always be the objective. Developing key points, support, and a logical structure are good starting points. But also take time to craft a compelling “what’s in it for me”. If you don’t know what it is, no one else will either—and your presentation will end up being a nice-to-know instead of a need-to-know. Articulate the relevance to your audience and you’ll have an easier time selling your ideas!
® Jill Bremer 2016
Executive Presence is a hot topic these days, but few can actually define what it is. In the past 30 years, I’ve been hired by many companies to coach an employee’s EP and most will tell me, “I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but I’ll know it when I see it!” So I developed a four-facet model for Executive Presence—Communication, Confidence, Charisma, Image—and those that want to convey a strong EP should work to develop all of these areas.
Speak to Influence – Today’s leaders must be able to listen effectively, ask the right questions, distill key points, and build consensus—and do it all with grace and gravitas. How well do you share your ideas, drive the discussion, and move others to action?
Master Your Nonverbal – Body language is a dominant force in your communication and can be more persuasive than words. Those with EP have mastered their nonverbal messages and use this silent language to convey confidence and influence those around them.
Present with Impact – Doors open to those who can stand (or sit) and deliver a good presentation. EP masters know how to tailor their content and deliver it in a way that keeps their audiences engaged.
Be Authentic – A strong EP aligns the inner self with the outer expression. Are your beliefs, values, and principles reflected in your behavior? Are you authentic, empathetic, and able to show vulnerability and humility to others?
Act with Integrity – When you have EP, you have the courage of your convictions and are able to stand your ground in the face of opposition. You’re able to speak assertively and truthfully, as well as take responsibility for your failures.
Command the Room – Those with EP have excellent “people skills” and are able to develop rapport quickly and easily. Their ability to connect and share their vision helps them build a strong network of relationships that will be valuable to them both now and later
Project Social Savvy – How you treat others demonstrates EP and can set you apart as someone with class and sophistication. You understand the finer points of business and social etiquette, including client/colleague courtesies, techno-etiquette, and dining skills.
Manage Your Reputation – How are you perceived by others? Do people think of you as credible, reliable, consistent? Do your words match your actions? Those skilled at EP are able to craft and control the stories people tell about them and, as a result, develop a reputation that will serves them well.
Dress to Impress – A strong EP means you’ve learned how to package your appearance so that you always look appropriate and polished. Your wardrobe and grooming choices are appropriate to your industry, role, and corporate brand.
If you’d like to learn more about Executive Presence, click here to receive “Seven Strategies to Develop Your Executive Presence.”
© 2016 Jill Bremer
Here’s a quick quiz to test your presentation skills savvy:
1. It’s impactful to walk around as you present. True or False?
2. It’s important to try to make eye contact with each set of eyes in the audience. True or False?
3. It’s a good idea to put an entire idea on a single slide. True or False?
4. Don’t waste time adding in transitions from point to point. Just get on with it! True or False?
5. Articulating the relevance of your topic to the audience is crucial. True or False?
Click here to see the answers (Hint: scroll to the bottom of the page).