But in the finals what distinguished one from another was all of the nonmusic stuff. The way they walked onto the stage, the cut of their clothes, the set of their shoulders, the spark in their eyes, and the emotion that played on their faces. All of these things established a mood either of tedium and awkwardness or of excited anticipation.
We learned that EP rests on three pillars:
How you act (gravitas)
How you speak (communication)
How you look (appearance)
One surprise finding of our research is that, when it comes to communication, eye contact matters enormously. Being able to look your coworkers in the eye when making a presentation, or being able to make eye contact with the audience when making a speech, has a transformative effect—on your ability to connect, to inspire, to create buy-in.
Once you’ve demonstrated that you know how to stand with the crowd, you get to strut your stuff and stand apart. It turns out that becoming a leader and doing something amazing with your life hinge on what makes you different, not on what makes you the same as everyone else.
Like Bob Dudley, he or she projects an aura of calm and competence
Gravitas alone won’t secure you the corner office, of course: You’ve got to have the skill sets, the experience, and the innate talent to qualify for the job.
You will make mistakes. You will suffer the mistakes of others. Accidents completely out of your control will befall you. Each of these represents, however, a monumental opportunity to acquire and exude gravitas: to reach within yourself, at the height of the storm, for that eye of calm, and to speak and act from that place of clarity. Because when you demonstrate that your confidence cannot be shaken, you inspire confidence in others. At worst, you’ll win their forgiveness and forbearance. Very possibly, you’ll win their trust and loyalty.
“You want brutal optimism. Great leaders are brutally optimistic.”
But born leaders are made, oftentimes through their own systematic efforts. They live intentionally, guided by a set of values or a vision for their lives that compels them to seize every chance to put their convictions into practice. We gravitate to them because they telegraph that they know where they’re going—a rare and intoxicating certainty that most of us lack.
Stick to what you know
Be generous with credit
Surround yourself with people who are better than you
Empower others’ presence to build your own
Snatch victory from the jaws of defeat
Drive change rather than be changed
First, communication is not so much what you say but rather how you say it. And this you can condition and control. The tone and timbre of your voice; your choice and use of words; your inflection, articulation, and delivery; and even your body language determine what and how much your listeners take in—and what overall impression of you they will form and retain as a result. Other people’s perceptions of you are very much yours to shape.
Your communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal, are what ultimately win you the attention and mindshare of colleagues, clients, and friends.
what makes a speaker persuasive are elements such as passion (27 percent), voice quality (23 percent), and presence (15 percent)
Executives I interviewed cited inarticulateness, poor grammar, and an off-putting tone or accent as examples of verbal tics that undermine EP.
“Maybe it’s the weight of history or the depth of ancestry, but a British accent adds to the impression of heft,”
And here’s why: “Shrill voices have that hint of hysteria that drives men into a panic,” says Suzi Digby, a British choral conductor and music educator. “Women with a high-pitched tone will be perceived as not only unleaderlike but out of control.”
It’s imperative you cut to the chase, be highly selective with your data, and whenever possible share an illustrative story.
constantly referring to lists, reading your notes, using eighty-seven PowerPoint slides, shuffling papers or flip charts, and putting on your glasses the better to see what you’re reading are all actions that detract from your gravitas because they focus attention on your lack of confidence.
Know your material cold so that you needn’t rely on notes, and needn’t rely on your glasses to read notes. This will free you up to establish eye contact with the audience. And nothing is more important than eye contact
Demonstrating that willingness impresses people: It shows you have absolute command of your subject matter, and it signals to your audience that you’re so invested in the importance of your message that you’ll scuttle your carefully prepared speech to make sure they grasp it. That’s a recipe for engagement.
In this regard, professionals of color may hold an edge. In focus groups we conducted, countless participants confirmed that being a minority is itself a relentless exercise in reading others in order to anticipate and overcome reflexive bias or unconscious resistance.
“It’s the conversation before the meeting that establishes whether or not you’re worth listening to in the meeting,” one senior executive pointed out—a skill she refers to as “mastering the banter.” It shows, she explained, that you’re part of the larger conversation, someone who’s “one of the tribe.”
No one even bothers to assess your communication skills or your thought leadership capabilities if your appearance telegraphs you’re clueless.
In interview after interview, senior leaders told me that failure to come through on the grooming front signals either poor judgment or lack of discipline.
The signature look of the rock stars of this advertising extravaganza comprised two-day-old stubble, bespoke shorts, and designer flip-flops.
“Pick the most senior nonexecutive member of the board”—the director named the member—“and pick a fight with him. Make a challenging remark. Point out something as absolute rubbish.”
Her manager explained that, by never asking for help and not explaining to others what she was doing, Buck Luce was inadvertently signaling that (1) her agenda was more important than theirs and (2) she didn’t value other perspectives.
BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND THAT GRANTS YOU LOTS OF LATITUDE TO BE YOU—AND BE RELENTLESS IN PROJECTING IT
“It’s so easy to think that every slight might have something to do with your background or gender. It’s not to say there are no real snubs, but I’ve found that more often than not somebody’s coming from a place of ignorance rather than bigotry. If you’re overly sensitive to the possibility of intentional slights and withdraw as a result, you freeze yourself rather than move forward.”
Take a deep breath, walk into the meeting, and present with composure and professionalism, while exhibiting graceful gra
Ignore their questions, hoping they will eventually stop interrupting you and catch up with the rest of the
Standing up to speak with integrity, clarity, and confide
color with the speech impairment because she is clearly the better choice, as her performance measu
You have a glass of water just before you are announced and approach your audience with a welcoming smile, stand
this situation as a professional team
Initiate an off-the-cuff and off-the-record, casual conversat
assertive when speaking in front of the panel as they will find her grace and sub
The authentic and appropriate golf shirt which brings attention to what you migh
More than anything, how we look translates into respect—for ourselves, for others