When Hillary Clinton--dressed in her power-red pantsuit--sauntered over the stage to greet Donald Trump last week in their first presidential dplaceholderebate, her body language spelled power.
"Executive presence" is what coaches and management experts call it. If you desire any chance of being recognized as a leader, you must have it.
There are a few ways you can exude that executive presence, even if you're not running for higher office. Below are some of the most common:
1. Assume a power pose
You know that classic "feet on the desk, hands behind the head" pose? Experts call that a power posture. You're commanding the room. Another is standing with your arms out to the side (yes, think Donald Trump when he walks up the stage with his arms outstretched). Hands on your hips is another power pose. Research shows those types of poses when done for a length of two minutes or more can actually help increase levels of testosterone and decrease levels of cortisol--a stress hormone. In other words, you can fake the power until you feel it.
2. Remove barriers
Ever notice how speakers like to step away from the podium onstage? Eliminating a clunky barrier is the easiest way to exude confidence and build up trust with your audience. It shows you're open, listening, attentive. When talking to someone one-on-one, look for objects that are standing in the way of your conversation and take them out. Things like coffee cups, flower vases, even papers. The more open the space is between yourself and others, the more you're creating a comforting atmosphere for everyone.
3. Shake hands
We've all gotten germophobic to the point that many of us don't like shaking hands. However, this simple greeting is the easiest way to exude confidence. Paired with a confident smile, few things make a better first impression. Just carry around a bottle of Purell if you are so inclined.
4. Keep your voice down
Did you notice how Clinton kept her voice low and steady during the debate? Sounding more authoritative means finding that deeper register in your voice and avoiding the human tic to "upspeak" at the end of sentences when you're unsure of something. I do it a lot, and I always cringe when I find myself turning sentences into questions unnecessarily. Keeping your voice steady and calm lets people know you're thinking clearly.
5. Get handsy
Some might disagree, but I think talking with your hands helps executive presence. You don't want to overdo it to the point that you're distracting, but having distinct hand gestures gives you an identity and keeps people's attention. Think of every politician on the campaign trail and you'd be hard pressed to find any who don't use hand gestures to articulate points. You don't want to look like you're inventing another sign language, but you do want to use your hands to help your mouth.
And on another note, another critical trait for any leader is having a powerful memory and ability to consume information fast. If you haven't watched our Radiate video series with memory guru Jim Kwik on how to boost your memory, please do--his simple tricks really do work. The more you can remember, the more productive you'll be!