How to Command the Room as the Keynote Speaker

conductorYou often hear someone say after a conference, “Wow, the speaker really took command of the room.” If you ask him what he means by “take command,” he might have trouble explaining the concept. That’s because it’s not easy to describe the subtle techniques that great speakers use to command the audience’s attention during their presentation.

From the Moment You Enter

One technique to use to become a great speaker is to plan your entrance. You immediately begin to establish your authority by striding in with a sense of purpose, your head held high while …Read more…

What is That Elusive Something Known as “Executive Presence?”

Executive presence requires gravitas, appearance and communications

Executive Presence?

As former United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said when he couldn’t find words to describe obscenity in a film, “I know it when I see it.”

That’s how you feel when you’re in the presence of someone with “executive presence.” You can’t describe it; you just know it when you see it.

What is Executive Presence?

Author Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her book Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success has “cracked the code,” as she calls it. …Read more…

News Flash: You Can’t Fake Being Authentic

A lot is being said and written about being authentic these days because so many people aren’t.Negatives Positives Computer Keys Showing Plus And Minus Alternatives Analysis And Decisions Think about a police chief who fudges his department’s response to a crisis. Or, government and corporate leaders that promise one thing and then do another.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being real or genuine, and telling the truth. You can’t tell someone you’re being authentic. You have to demonstrate it by your behavior. You have to be who you say you are.

Employees value a CEO who is honest and not afraid to open himself up and show some emotion. We coached a senior partner of a law firm for several years. One day he was asked to speak to the partnership about what the firm meant to him.

When talking about the firm in rehearsal, he was overcome with emotion and had difficulty getting the words out. He kept practicing because we knew that once he was able to manage his emotions, he could hold his own on stage.

On the day of the meeting, Jim got through his remarks with a catch or two in his voice and just a few tears in his eyes. His ability to show emotion may have surprised some of the partners, but they were very touched by his authenticity and his love of the firm.

A few years later his peers elected him the managing partner. Jim had built a level of trust by his openness and authenticity. He was a leader they wanted to follow.

You can’t be a good speaker by wrapping yourself in bubble wrap. You can’t be a good leader by withholding your feelings.

Mingling With Employees

When your name is on the door, you can never be just “one of the guys.” Counterfeit Authentic MagnifiedIt’s a delicate balance between being aloof and developing a genuine rapport with employees.

Bill Hewlett and David Packard, the founders of Hewlett Packard, practiced management by walking around, a concept popularized in the blockbuster book In Search of Excellence. This means making spontaneous visits to employees to learn first hand what’s really going in the company and getting valuable feedback from employees. These visits are a great morale booster.

But you can’t just drop into the company cafeteria once a year and pretend that you’re interested in your employees. That’s just going through the motions. It’s not authentic.

Good leaders meet with their employees regularly. One CEO we work with invites a different group of employees to dine with him in the cafeteria every other week. He learns more than he would by sitting in his office and it demonstrates his genuine commitment.

The founder and now retired CEO of Costco, Jim Sinegal, was labeled a “retailing genius” in a CNBC special about the retailer (below). A shirtsleeves leader, he spent most of his time on the road visiting his warehouse stores. He wanted to know from store managers what was working and what wasn’t. Sinegal could then apply what he learned to the entire network.

Everyone from the newsstand vendor to regular employees knew the late Allan “Ace” Greenberg, chairman of Bear Stearns in the 1990s, who retired long before the firm went under in the financial meltdown.

He was quite the character and much to everyone’s surprise enjoyed his training sessions in preparation for the firm’s IPO. One day, Ace invited me to sit next to him, on what was referred to as his throne, overlooking the trading floor. He said, “Come on over and sit down, Joyce,” and then proceeded to call new employees.

Welcome to Bear Stearns. We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team and I know you’ll do a great job. Here’s my phone number. Use it! If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up but let me know about it immediately – and don’t make the same mistake twice.”

That was being authentic! Ace never wore a jacket at work, his shirt sleeves were always rolled up, and he knew everyone in the firm by name.

Authenticity is engrained in our DNA. If you’re not being authentic your inner voice will tell you. If you’re a speaker, your audience will sense it in your demeanor.

If you’re a PR person talking to the media, you will be found out if you’re not being authentic with the news about your company. The reporter will go to another source in your company, or to a competitor, or search the web.

It pays dividends to be authentic. Authenticity is more valuable than currency, because you can never go broke no matter how much you spend.

Talk About What You Know and What You’re Known For

Being a panelist is hard work, stop, say no. illustration designespecially if you have a moderator who doesn’t show leadership and who can’t make up his mind about the agenda. Talking about subject matter areas where you don’t have any expertise can be damaging to your professional life.

Getting on the Same Page

It’s surprising how often a panel moderator doesn’t take charge of the program until the last minute. If you have this experience, take action immediately. As a speaker, you want to …Read more…