You know it when you see it. You can even probably recall those occasions when a leader wielded exceptional, positive control over an important meeting. And you know the ability to command a room directly enhances leadership power and influence.
So why is this leadership skill so elusive? Why is that some people consistently get attention, communicate clearly, and drive a group forward while others fight to get a word in, struggle to convey their points, or fail to be noticed at all? What exactly are the tactics you need to increase your executive presence and command a room?
Great leaders use these 9 tactics to command a room:
- Show up early or precisely on time--never late. Walking in late means you need an apology and an excuse before you say anything else. It's not a strong starting position, and it can be difficult to overcome no matter how great your reasons might be.
- Enter the room with intention. As you arrive at the door, pause for a moment with your head up to survey the scene. Move purposefully toward the seat you want, which will vary depending on the purpose of the gathering and the room arrangement.
- Ground yourself by putting both feet on the floor and sitting squarely in your seat. Plan to slouch later.
- Use your polished "go to" introduction to say who you are without fluff or mumbles. Tip #1 in this recent post.
- Each time you speak, project your voice to the farthest person in the room. No, you're not shouting. It just feels like that.
- Complete all requested prework ahead of time. If you do, you'll be able to answer a definitive "yes" when the presenter asks, "Did everyone get the materials and read them?" Completing preparatory work will differentiate you from most other people in the room and sets the bar higher for the group in future meetings.
- Bring both your knowledge and curiosity. Use a tactic from the professional coach's playbook and ask open-ended questions to encourage discussion.
- Have an opinion. Having an opinion demonstrates that you've been paying attention and that you care.
- Concisely state your perspective. If you typically have an opinion (as suggested in #8) but struggle to articulate it in a compelling way, write it down beforehand. Be prepared to also clearly say why. Know upfront what you feel passionate about and what you can live with if it doesn't go your way.
You can command a room and get more of what you want and need in a group setting. The ability to have influence in meetings--especially large groups or gatherings of senior leaders--is a critical stepping stone in your career. It only takes a few (often only one) of these meetings when you have complete control of your presence and your contributions, with an aim toward the right outcome for the organization, before you're noticed for something greater.